Nostalgia for 4th Ed

As some of you know I am no fan of 4th ed overall but I do actually miss aspects of it. Over the last few months I have been rereading my 2nd, 3rd and 4th ed books and trying to be a bit more objective in terms of things like concepts as opposed to the mechanical implementation of things. Put simply was this a good idea even if the mechanics were wonky or if the implementation was not to my liking.


One can see elements of 3rd ed for example in 2nd ed as far back as 1989, just like one can see elements of 4th ed in various 3rd ed material. It is kind of interesting. Anyway today I will be going through the 4th ed PHB and mining it for ideas as I have recently converted various feats etc from it for use in Pathfinder. Rather than pick apart the things I do not like from 4th ed I will focus on the things I do like and try to keep the comparisons to 2nd, 3rd and D&DN somewhat useful. Also the 4th ed PHB will be looked at as just a PHB independent of DDI.


Chapter 1&2.
Nice an simple, brief and concise. The start of a new PHB is rarely exciting being honest but this is laid out very well. The book also looks attractive and overall a great job for something that is not the best. An improvement over 2nd eds and probably 3rd eds efforts. D&DN seems to be going down this path as well. Simple is good IMHO.


Chapter 3 Races.


One may not like things like Eladrin, Dragonborn or racial powers but the layout of the book is very good and the races are interesting enough relative other PHB. The races section is never really an exciting part of a PHB either. Each race gets 2 pages, it is well laid out and I like racial powers so overall a good job here.


Chapter 4 classes.
 Ruh roh. 125 pages of classes. This chapter more than anything caused me to pass on 4th ed. Never the less I will focus on the things I did like. Some of the classic daily resources like turn undead and smite evil work better as an encounter power IMHO and my players have indicted if they had a choice they would like that in other versions of D&D. Classes concepts like the Warlord also score highly and I hope the D&DN warlock is a blend of the 3.5 and 4th ed warlock. Other changes such as the Cleric heal+hit and laser cleric are a good idea and have made it to D&DN although in a different way mechanically.Other things I like are various small things like Rogues having a bonus to hit with daggers as they kind of sucked as a weapon in 3rd ed and they were quite good in 2nd ed at least as a thrown weapon. Various powers would also make a great class abilities gained at XYZ level for various classes. Most of the artwork here also looks good.


Chapter 5 Skills. Skills are skills. I would have preferred an evolved version of 4th eds skills to be used in D&DN using elements of Star Wars Saga and 2nd eds bounded accuracy here over what we have in D&DN. Scale the numbers down, make class abilities interact with skills better like SWSE, and something similar to the Pathfinder skill list would be my ideal skill system for D&DN. Overall 4th ed is one of the better d20 based skill systems around. D&DN skill development is still in flux though so there is still hope perhaps.


Chapter 6 Feats.
Feats are feats more or less. I like them and D&DN probably would not interest me if it did not have them. Would probably prefer something like 4th ed and D&DN feats or better yet SWSE over 3rd eds feats. I will assume most of us know what feats are though. Hoping D&DN ends up with more than 4 feats. Less feat bloat from 3rd and 4th ed would be nice though.


Chapter 7. Equipment.
4th ed weapon properties I feel are a big hit and I liked them a lot. 4th ed continues D&D traditions of making armor a bit meh mechanically although I did like the why they tied it to different classes and you could cast spells in it. It is better than D&DN which has terrible armor rules. Magic items also ended up in the PHB and I am not a fan of 4th ed magic items being blunt. Pathfinder also has made a few mistakes here IMHO and I would prefer something between 2nd and 3rd eds magic items here. With the exception of the magic items one of the better equipment sections in recent years although it is hard to get excited about equipment.


Chapter 7. Adventuring.


Short, concise and relevant. Very well done here.


Chapter 8 Combat.
More or less the guts of any version of D&D 4th ed was a massive improvement here compared to 3.5 and PFRPG combat chapters. D&DN seems to be going down this path as well. Not that much to say about it really except it is really good.


Chapter 9. Rituals.


Hard to evaluate these due to various reasons. I did not like them as substitutes for the classic D&D spells. However the concept is a great one and compares very favorably to what came before it. 2nd ed for example had true dweomers in the high level hand book, and Dragon Kings had level 10 spells that were more or less an epic ritual to turn you into a Dragon King. 3rd ed provided the Epic Level Handbooks epic magic system that was blatantly terrible and the less said about it the better. Ritual magic similar to 4th eds could come back IMHO and hopefully the gold part will not be there. If you need to levitate a mountain top, ward a temple or location, summon an avatar etc I think ritual magic is better for that than the traditional vancian spell slots. If D&DN has non combat feats non spell casters could also get this which could be useful. Magic item creation could also be tied to rituals. Bruenor Battlehammer of the Drizzt books fame is a Dwarven fighter that created a magical warhammer for Wulfgar. Preventing an evil sacrifice during a ritual ceremony also makes a great plot hook that I recall from 1st ed Dungeon adventures.
In conclusion that is more or less it. I tried to keep it brief and positive for the most part. Overall a great players handbook with the exception of chapter 4 which made me pass on 4th ed.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I am having nostalgia for the first and second playtest packet.  No feelings for 3/4E yet.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

What packet had the Sorcerer and Warlock in it? That was the packet I liked the most.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

What packet had the Sorcerer and Warlock in it? That was the packet I liked the most.



I would say packet2.5

My favorite so far.

That playtest started something like this....

"Gaerfur had just taken off his armor and sat down in his worn and rickety bed.  Several female gnolls, Gaefur's alpha mates, soon joined him and attended to his bumps and bruises.  He growled at them as they took delight in making him wince once or twice from licking his wounds.  He was not angry enough to hurt them but he could very well bite one if it pleased him. 


As they worked on him, he looked at the table in the room where sat his three heirs.  They lowered their heads in respect and did not make eye contact as it was their custom.  Gaerfur then addressed them.

"I will have that Kobold Chieftans heart for my mid morning meal tomorrow, hear me"  He barked in the gnoll language.

The three heirs growled an acknowledgement, for Gaerfur rarely would not make good on his words.  And that meant that the heirs would be able to prove themselves in battle or find a clever, covert way to get rid of one another.   Which was also one of their customs.


 


Then the sound of gnolls yelping and yipping from outside the room and down the corridor pricked their canine ears.  Something was amiss in the common hall.


 


Gaerfur sprung from the bed and began barking orders"




"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Thats the one I started with. That one and the last packet have been the best ones so far.

 D&DN seems to be fun at level 1-4 and kind of falls apart after that. At least in testing so far.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Which packet was the one before the skill dice ?
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102912 Had a straight +3 for trained skills then 121712 had Skill Dice

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

None of them rose above "kill it with fire" to me, though the first one was the worst.
...whatever
 I hate the skill dice.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Skill dice is the most foreign concept and I am surprised it has not recieved alot of flak. Considering that with Advantage/Disadvantage in 5E, one thing I did not like from 4E was keeping track of different dice combinations depending on what the character is doing. That along with micro managing conditions every round was the biggest deterent for new and old school players (1e/2e) when playing 4E.
102912 Had a straight +3 for trained skills then 121712 had Skill Dice


Thanks!

then, I loved the 102912
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Chapter 4 classes.
 Ruh roh. 125 pages of classes. This chapter more than anything caused me to pass on 4th ed.




Out of curiosity, does anyone know how long the 3.x class section is, once you add in the spell list (which is the one and only reason the 4e one so long)?  I can't get to my 3.5 stuff right now, but my PF PHB has 55 pages of class material and 149 of spells.  Even if you throw the rituals in to 4e's class page count, that's more than 4e.  So why is it that moving the class powers to a different section of the book makes it more palatable for you?  Or is it just that martial characters were short?

Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.
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The difference ids the spell lists in 3.5 also were used in new classes so if you include them page count goes way down. Each new class in 4th added another 111-15 pages f bloat, new 3rd ed classes used 3-5 pages. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

The difference ids the spell lists in 3.5 also were used in new classes so if you include them page count goes way down. Each new class in 4th added another 111-15 pages f bloat, new 3rd ed classes used 3-5 pages. 

This is definitely one of the things that could feel tough from a design standpoint (as my mind has been going over how I would write a rulebook), and on one hand, some people really like having all of their spells/abilities in one place, and keeping the class section and overall page count (via re-using spells/abilities) down. OTOH, one of the things I LOVED about the 4e books was that all the information for each class was contained right there in the class description - no need to look at your class, then check your class spell list in the back, and then flip to the actual spell entry in the alphabetical spell list. However, keeping all of a class' abilities, even with repeat entries (like both wizard and sorceror have fireball or something), with each class leads to really massive page bloat. In the end I know that I am totally okay with the extra size, as the new format is very appealing, but I don't know how others feel on this topic.

Chapter 4 classes.
 Ruh roh. 125 pages of classes. This chapter more than anything caused me to pass on 4th ed.




Out of curiosity, does anyone know how long the 3.x class section is, once you add in the spell list (which is the one and only reason the 4e one so long)?  I can't get to my 3.5 stuff right now, but my PF PHB has 55 pages of class material and 149 of spells.  Even if you throw the rituals in to 4e's class page count, that's more than 4e.  So why is it that moving the class powers to a different section of the book makes it more palatable for you?  Or is it just that martial characters were short?

Setting aside whether it's a great measure of anything, the 3.5 PHB has 33 pages of classes, not counting PrCs, which are in the DMG. (If you're counting PPs for 4e, you should count those, probably.) It has 15 pages listing the spells that each class gets, and then 107 pages of spells, a small number of which require material from a third book (the Monster Manual). Note that 3.5's spell section is much denser than 4e's class section; a randomly chosen artless page from 3.5's spell section has 1190 words on it; a randomly chosen artless page from the ranger class section in 4e's class secton only has 730. (Pathfinder's spell section has about 840, which partially accounts for the reason that it's spells section is longer than 3.5's.)
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 Reading spells is boring though. Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun? Powers are about the same to read and every class has them. They made every class boring to read in effect. See previous point about the 3.5 spel list being a consolidated list for every future spellcaster to draw on. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun?



*Raises Hand*
 Reading spells is boring though. Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun? Powers are about the same to read and every class has them. They made every class boring to read in effect. See previous point about the 3.5 spel list being a consolidated list for every future spellcaster to draw on. 



Uh? Why do you have to read ALL the powers for a class?
Class descriptions fits in 2 to 3 pages in the 4e PHB. Then you can check at-wills and 1st level encounter powers. 4-5 pages at most in total is all you need to get a grasp of the class and create a character.
Then at level up you go and check powers for it, which normally fits in 1/2 page (bar splat books use). 
Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun?



*Raises Hand*




*another hand goes up*


Of course, those spells are readable and not simply mechanical combinations.


The difference ids the spell lists in 3.5 also were used in new classes so if you include them page count goes way down. Each new class in 4th added another 111-15 pages f bloat, new 3rd ed classes used 3-5 pages. 




For me that's one thing I'm glad will not be the case with 5e.    I always wanted to create new 4e classes, but the amount of work required prevented me.       

The problem right now is that the designers have sorted the spells by name and not by level &  name.       When I want to create a new character I only want to read the spells that I can use.    If the designers can at least go back to listing the spells like 2e did, those who liked the 4e players handbook won't have a problem, they'll only have to skip to the back of the book, which shouldn't be a big deal. 




 


Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun?



*Raises Hand*




*another hand goes up*


Of course, those spells are readable and not simply mechanical combinations.


I did too. lol Some interesting stuff in them too. 4E spells lacked some of the awe inspiringness from earlier editions.
Things I hope I will see again after 4E:
Racial Powers. Rituals. Healing Surges. Clear-cut status conditions. Easy to use rules. Interesting choices on the battlefield. Amazing ease in altering monsters to fit encountes. Simplicity and ease in DMing - especially encounter building. A system to almost completely remove magic items without changing player power.

Things I will not miss from 4E:
2-hour long combats (seriously my biggest complaint with 4e).

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

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Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun?



*Raises Hand*




*another hand goes up*


Of course, those spells are readable and not simply mechanical combinations.





And yet another hand goes up, I remember going back to 1st ed reading all the spells.

Racial Powers as optional features would be welcome. While I loved the 4e power structure, there were too many overall and too much duplication. If they had merged all the powers by power source, the volume would have dropped considerably. Similiarly, I hope the spells in DDN can be made a bit more generic for core, allowing for changing the damage types in many cases, and having scaling rules for casting spells in higher slots.

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the awe inspiringness from earlier editions.



I remember that well: it used to send shivers down my spine when I was reading those as a DM...
Interesting choices on the battlefield.

That's my favorite part about 3E and 4E. For all that people say the 3E fighter only had a basic attack (or, later, a full-attack), the grid and flanking and opportunity attacks all served to make for many interesting choices in combat.

The metagame is not the game.

None of them rose above "kill it with fire" to me, though the first one was the worst.




The best, also had great fluff in the Bestiary.
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.
Who reads the 2nd ed spell encyclopedias or the 3.5  spell compendium for fun?



*Raises Hand*




Me too, 4th Ed books are not fun to read; perfunctory.
Interesting choices on the battlefield.

That's my favorite part about 3E and 4E. For all that people say the 3E fighter only had a basic attack (or, later, a full-attack), the grid and flanking and opportunity attacks all served to make for many interesting choices in combat.



 Making the effects of choices reasonably valuable compared to "enemy down" (or  "ally up" ) - so they are useful is tough... so it is quite a balancing act.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
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Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
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Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed
Also, 4th Ed is not particularly tactical, play Squad Leader or Kampf Gruppe Piper if you want that, 4th Ed is an Operational Board-Game (nothing wrong with that, lots of fun).
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.


Do you deny 3.x casters had incredibly lengthy class entries? And how long spell entires were(entire books devoted to them).
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.


Do you deny 3.x casters had incredibly lengthy class entries? And how long spell entires were(entire books devoted to them).




No, and I despise the empowerment of 3rd Ed Casters, and? 
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.


Do you deny 3.x casters had incredibly lengthy class entries? And how long spell entires were(entire books devoted to them).




No, and I despise the empowerment of 3rd Ed Casters, and? 


So my fix statement is totally on the ball.
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.


Do you deny 3.x casters had incredibly lengthy class entries? And how long spell entires were(entire books devoted to them).




No, and I despise the empowerment of 3rd Ed Casters, and? 


So my fix statement is totally on the ball.




How does that work (this should be fun...)?

Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.


Do you deny 3.x casters had incredibly lengthy class entries? And how long spell entires were(entire books devoted to them).




No, and I despise the empowerment of 3rd Ed Casters, and? 


So my fix statement is totally on the ball.




How does that work (this should be fun...)?



Considering casters had entire books full of class powers, they had plenty more bloat than any 4e class.
Funnily enough, the idea of huge sections dedicated to classes were what sold me on 4e. It always rubbed me the wrong way that so much of the 3.x PHBs were dedicated to spells.




Like every 4th Ed class and 3.x caster had to have a ridiculous class entry to accommodate the absurd, redundant, power bloat.


fixed




Please don't try to "fix" things to contort to your twisted view of D&D.


Do you deny 3.x casters had incredibly lengthy class entries? And how long spell entires were(entire books devoted to them).




No, and I despise the empowerment of 3rd Ed Casters, and? 


So my fix statement is totally on the ball.




How does that work (this should be fun...)?



Considering casters had entire books full of class powers, they had plenty more bloat than any 4e class.




You're right, every class in 4th Ed bloated up the game with spell-lists, thanks for that, so glad we agree. 
Considering casters had entire books full of class powers, they had plenty more bloat than any 4e class.




You're right, every class in 4th Ed bloated up the game with spell-lists, thanks for that, so glad we agree. 


Although the fact you have to compare every class in 4e with one or two 3.x classes to determine 4e is bloated is telling.