I care more about quality than specifics

One thing that seems like a big misconception to me is that 4e players will be happy if they're tossed some tactical stuff and the game isn't blatantly broken. I am a 4e fan, but I do not care very much about how tactical combat is or anything like that.

What I care about is whether or not what they do produce is of good quality. In other words, I want it to be well-thought out. To understand my distinction, imagine someone says they really like The Hangover. This doesn't mean they like all comedies, and it doesn't mean they only like comedies. It may just mean that they thought there was a high level of execution in the writing, directing, and actingin that particular film. They may be just as happy watching a good drama, or a good action flick. And they would hate a crappy comedy.

My like of 4e is based on what I perceive as it's elegance and clean execution. Its combat is actually somewhat clunkier and more involved than I would like, but that is of secondary importance to the game's overall powerful design structure. I can nitpick a hundred things I don't like, but in the end the game is balanced, fun, playable, intuitive, and elegant (at least when compared to other games I see on the market).

When I look at D&DN, I am looking for evidence of solid design, something that I felt was severely lacking in the entire 3e game structure.

I am torn right now on whether or not the design is actually solid. Their stated design goals of being the one true game for everybody seem absurdly ambitious to me, and very likely to result in a game that cobbles together a lot of mediocre systems. Also, their use of a more-or-less 3e style base system does not seem to me like it lends itself to actual modularity.

On the other hand, the game seems like it may end up reasonably balanced, and I like the way things are somewhat simpler while still being interesting. Toning down magic and beefing up martial was an important change to make 3e playable in my eyes.

Bounded accuracy is a great idea that should have come long ago. It means that characters expand qualitatively more, while expanding quantitatively less.

It also seems like the system is made to slip into the background of a gaming session. It takes away a lot of the mechanical crutches, and tells players to start roleplaying if they want to stand out. The DM's guide is very good at emphasizing that not everything needs to be a check, and that improv is the rule, not the exceptions. The skill system is reasonably flexible, and I especially like untying skills from abilities. The game is meant to run smoothly and not intrude upon the flow of a good session.

So I feel like they're missing a lot of notes on their stated design goals, but hitting a lot of good notes in other important areas. This might not be a bad thing at all. They could still come back and make modularity happen, although I find it unlikely myself. I am a little bitter that they're scrapping 4e's elegant system for a clunky one, but that won't bother me if they make it work well. The point is to make a fun game that fills a need in the market, and I think they are well on their way to that. It may not beat PF or win over devoted 4e fans, but it will definitely contribute something of substance to an increasingly competitive market. I am excited for it, but cautious in my expectations.

Sorry for the slightly long, slightly rambly post. Have a nice day!

 
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar

One thing that seems like a big misconception to me is that 4e players will be happy if they're tossed some tactical stuff and the game isn't blatantly broken. I am a 4e fan, but I do not care very much about how tactical combat is or anything like that.

I can't comment as a 4e fan but I think much of the resistance to the "there's an app for that" argument when someone says the game is missing something is that there's a feeling that ad hoc modules are inherently inferior. It's like native vs ported software.
My like of 4e is based on what I perceive as it's elegance and clean execution. Its combat is actually somewhat clunkier and more involved than I would like, but that is of secondary importance to the game's overall powerful design structure. I can nitpick a hundred things I don't like, but in the end the game is balanced, fun, playable, intuitive, and elegant (at least when compared to other games I see on the market).

Yeah I like the core system a lot. I actually like that it's clunky. I don't have a good reason for that. Something about imperfection that makes it appealing - like irregularities in a person's face.
When I look at D&DN, I am looking for evidence of solid design, something that I felt was severely lacking in the entire 3e game structure.

huh. That's not something I really notice in 3e. "Solid design" could mean a lot of things though.
I am torn right now on whether or not the design is actually solid. Their stated design goals of being the one true game for everybody seem absurdly ambitious to me, and very likely to result in a game that cobbles together a lot of mediocre systems. Also, their use of a more-or-less 3e style base system does not seem to me like it lends itself to actual modularity.

I've got my doubts as well, but one of the things that the 3e-style design offers is that somewhat cantankerous ad hoc approach that actually is really easy to expand in all directions. The major difference I see in 5e from 3e is the desire to make rules that truely add on, rather than change or rewrite. Much more like 2e's approach of "here's a new thing. It works with everything else. Wanna use it?"

I realise there's gonna be crying bloat for that, but on the whole I think it's the best way for everyone to get a piece of the pie.

On the other hand, the game seems like it may end up reasonably balanced, and I like the way things are somewhat simpler while still being interesting. Toning down magic and beefing up martial was an important change to make 3e playable in my eyes. 

I guess. I think a lot of the power differential there is in peoples heads and not actually real, but it's a point of debate and it's not like my game is harmed through their changes in that arena.
Bounded accuracy is a great idea that should have come long ago. It means that characters expand qualitatively more, while expanding quantitatively less.

I'd love to see the qualitative expansion. I don't really agree with you because I think their approach to the boundaries are just trading one devil for another. I also see BA as a reaction to a distinctly 4e issue of totally transparent number growth. Previous D&D games do have the same number growth, but they're not as open about it and the growth is justified with enough fluff that many people simply don't understand what BA is attempting to solve in the first place. Basically, there's a feeling in some quarters that it's not broken and they're fixing something ephemeral that never mattered in the first place unless you wanted it to matter.

I would love more horizontal growth: more abilities, more uses for existing abilities and generally more options available as you level. Right now, I don't see nearly enough of that.

It also seems like the system is made to slip into the background of a gaming session. It takes away a lot of the mechanical crutches, and tells players to start roleplaying if they want to stand out. The DM's guide is very good at emphasizing that not everything needs to be a check, and that improv is the rule, not the exceptions. The skill system is reasonably flexible, and I especially like untying skills from abilities. The game is meant to run smoothly and not intrude upon the flow of a good session.

This is, to me, the playtest's greatest strength. It's also the thing that keeps me quietly confident that I'll be able to make 5e my game in spite of the daft things in it that get in my way.
So I feel like they're missing a lot of notes on their stated design goals, but hitting a lot of good notes in other important areas. This might not be a bad thing at all. They could still come back and make modularity happen, although I find it unlikely myself. I am a little bitter that they're scrapping 4e's elegant system for a clunky one, but that won't bother me if they make it work well. The point is to make a fun game that fills a need in the market, and I think they are well on their way to that. It may not beat PF or win over devoted 4e fans, but it will definitely contribute something of substance to an increasingly competitive market. I am excited for it, but cautious in my expectations.

This is pretty much my feeling too. It's a new thing. We're all ready to see a new thing. Whether it's a better thing is really sort of a pointless argument because better is so much in the eye of the beholder. I like that they're bringing new ideas to the table, and one of the great things is they're sharing their ideas so even if I don't buy 5e, I remain a fan of D&D which means the goodwill they're generating now is going to pay off eventually. Maybe I won't buy all the books, but I might buy one or two 'cause I want to integrate elements they've come up with. So it's pure win.
Sorry for the slightly long, slightly rambly post. Have a nice day!

I like these kinds of posts. I enjoyed reading it.
I am certain 5E will stand on its own ground, and has a method to the design. What is crucial and very hard to determine at this point is how modularity works, and how that will allow for different styles of play. I expect this will be hard to execute if they do not include features of every version of D&D in the rules starting from basic and moving forward. Or be clear on how basic/standard/advanced relates to modularity.
Thank you Kadim for such a thoughtful response!

The reason I call 3e clunky and such is the same thing you cite as helping its expandability. The ad hoc nature of its rules is, to me, inelegant and inherently difficult to balance. This is part an aesthetic judgment, but I do feel it is objectively true that it is easier to balance under a 4e style rigidity. The aesthetic part is that I find it more elegant and intuitive. I've noticed that new players tend to find 4e's design very intuitive, while players who started with different games often find it extremely unintuitive. I'm not sure how to interpret that fact, but it's interesting.

The ad hoc system seems to me like it makes expansion more difficult. There's not really a baseline, so the only way to get something right is to playtest it a lot. A rigid baseline means almost anyone can throw something together that will be pretty close to balanced, even without much playtesting.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
I've noticed that new players tend to find 4e's design very intuitive, while players who started with different games often find it extremely unintuitive. I'm not sure how to interpret that fact, but it's interesting.



Largely because 4E plays closer to other games that people have played, because everything is defined and the improvisation elements are heavily downplayed. There's also a heavy emphasis on mechanics and none on flavor text.

For instance, attacks of opportunity in previous editions were things like "Casting a spell in melee". In 4E it's because you used an area or ranged attack. This means you can cast a thunderwave in melee combat without problem, but you can't cast a fireball. If you think of it from a flavor standpoint, it's rather unintutive. If you treat it like a board game and ignore the flavor text entirely, it seems pretty simple to pick up.

I've noticed that new players tend to find 4e's design very intuitive, while players who started with different games often find it extremely unintuitive. I'm not sure how to interpret that fact, but it's interesting.



Largely because 4E plays closer to other games that people have played, because everything is defined and the improvisation elements are heavily downplayed. There's also a heavy emphasis on mechanics and none on flavor text.

For instance, attacks of opportunity in previous editions were things like "Casting a spell in melee". In 4E it's because you used an area or ranged attack. This means you can cast a thunderwave in melee combat without problem, but you can't cast a fireball. If you think of it from a flavor standpoint, it's rather unintutive. If you treat it like a board game and ignore the flavor text entirely, it seems pretty simple to pick up.



See I find the flavor of being able to cast thunderwave in melee while not being able to cast fireball makes a ton of sense. The whole point of thunderwave is it's a powerful blast that knocks enemies back. That is a strong fantasy trope, and it makes no sense for that sort of attack to not work perfectly well in melee.

Just because the flavor is different doesn't make it worse.

Also, every single power has flavor text paired with it. The difference is, the flavor text is treated as inspiration rather than rule. This does to a certain extent emphasize mechanics over flavor. But it really only does that because people interpret it that way. If you want to you can approach the flavor text as rules content, it just goes against the player-empowerment vibe the game gives off.



"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar

See I find the flavor of being able to cast thunderwave in melee while not being able to cast fireball makes a ton of sense. The whole point of thunderwave is it's a powerful blast that knocks enemies back. That is a strong fantasy trope, and it makes no sense for that sort of attack to not work perfectly well in melee.

Just because the flavor is different doesn't make it worse.


The utility and balance makes more sense, but the actual flavor reasoning doesn't. The spell takes the same time to cast as magic missile, and presumably both involve you standing there waving your arms about making arcane gestures. So why would thunderwave not provoke but magic missile would? If you're sitting there casting the spell for the same amount of time, you'd be leaving yourself open to attack with either of them.

Often when teaching 4E to people from prior editions, I have to tell them to stop thinking about it as an RPG, and just analyze it like a board game, becuase that makes it way easier to understand. You can't think about what's actually going on in the story, you have to consider what's going on mechanically.


Also, every single power has flavor text paired with it. The difference is, the flavor text is treated as inspiration rather than rule. This does to a certain extent emphasize mechanics over flavor. But it really only does that because people interpret it that way. If you want to you can approach the flavor text as rules content, it just goes against the player-empowerment vibe the game gives off.



Yeah, the vibe is something that really throws off players of older editions, but is meant to welcome players of board games and competitive games like Magic the Gathering where the rules are sancrosanct, and the flavor text is ignorable.
The flavor text has ALWAYS been ignorable in D&D.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
This is moving into edition war territory, so lets let it go. Calling 4e board gamey is a pretty touchy subject, and is distracting from the main point of the thread. Agree to disagree?
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar

Bounded accuracy is a great idea that should have come long ago. It means that characters expand qualitatively more, while expanding quantitatively less. 


    Now what does that actually mean?  On the face of it, bounded accuracy is quite the reverse.  It tries to limit your qualitative growth by making your chance of hitting almost the same at 10th level as at 1st.  And the claim seem to be it will make up for this by increasing your damage, your quantatitive aspect, more.  [the given reason seems absurd.  Who want to be fighting orcs at 10th level?]


 improv is the rule, not the exceptions. 


   In other words, our rules are very incomplete.






Bounded accuracy is a great idea that should have come long ago. It means that characters expand qualitatively more, while expanding quantitatively less.



I'd love to see the qualitative expansion. I don't really agree with you because I think their approach to the boundaries are just trading one devil for another. I also see BA as a reaction to a distinctly 4e issue of totally transparent number growth. Previous D&D games do have the same number growth, but they're not as open about it and the growth is justified with enough fluff that many people simply don't understand what BA is attempting to solve in the first place. Basically, there's a feeling in some quarters that it's not broken and they're fixing something ephemeral that never mattered in the first place unless you wanted it to matter.

I would love more horizontal growth: more abilities, more uses for existing abilities and generally more options available as you level. Right now, I don't see nearly enough of that. 




I struggle with the way Bounded Accuracy feels.  And they have very simply put damage at the fore in terms of scaling instead of accuracy.  The issue that arises is that Accuracy is easier to counter whereas damage just has to be absorbed.  Currently, the damage scaling is far too high for my liking, but hopefully that will change.

I also don't see any horizotal growth.  There is less focus on OOC rules and class features than there was in 3e, and things look pretty bare in each class list.  As a pathfinder player it is very hard to look at DDN and see horizontal variability... because in comparison it just isn't there.  In PF I can make 10 fighters that are mechanically distinct.  This just isn't true (yet) for DDN.

I can only hope that things will improve, because I will not be waiting around for 15 modules to see a good game.  The core needs to be engaging enough in its own right.  So far, there isn't a set of innovations here that I can really get behind, and neither can the rest of my group.  
Ibelieve( its been awhile, I could be wrong) that earier editions burning hands could be cast in melee. That might be a better comparison.

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.


Bounded accuracy is a great idea that should have come long ago. It means that characters expand qualitatively more, while expanding quantitatively less.



I'd love to see the qualitative expansion. I don't really agree with you because I think their approach to the boundaries are just trading one devil for another. I also see BA as a reaction to a distinctly 4e issue of totally transparent number growth. Previous D&D games do have the same number growth, but they're not as open about it and the growth is justified with enough fluff that many people simply don't understand what BA is attempting to solve in the first place. Basically, there's a feeling in some quarters that it's not broken and they're fixing something ephemeral that never mattered in the first place unless you wanted it to matter.

I would love more horizontal growth: more abilities, more uses for existing abilities and generally more options available as you level. Right now, I don't see nearly enough of that. 




I struggle with the way Bounded Accuracy feels.  And they have very simply put damage at the fore in terms of scaling instead of accuracy.  The issue that arises is that Accuracy is easier to counter whereas damage just has to be absorbed.  Currently, the damage scaling is far too high for my liking, but hopefully that will change.

I also don't see any horizotal growth.  There is less focus on OOC rules and class features than there was in 3e, and things look pretty bare in each class list.  As a pathfinder player it is very hard to look at DDN and see horizontal variability... because in comparison it just isn't there.  In PF I can make 10 fighters that are mechanically distinct.  This just isn't true (yet) for DDN.

I can only hope that things will improve, because I will not be waiting around for 15 modules to see a good game.  The core needs to be engaging enough in its own right.  So far, there isn't a set of innovations here that I can really get behind, and neither can the rest of my group.  


I think you're mixing up two somewhat different ideas. My point is that as you level, instead of becoming more accurate, you gain access to more cool abilities and options, hence qualitative expansion. The ability to qualitatively differentiate two level 1 fighters is a different issue entirely from being able to qualitatively differentiate a level 1 fighter from a level 10 fighter.

"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
Totally agree with OP. Well put!
For instance, attacks of opportunity in previous editions were things like "Casting a spell in melee". In 4E it's because you used an area or ranged attack. This means you can cast a thunderwave in melee combat without problem, but you can't cast a fireball. If you think of it from a flavor standpoint, it's rather unintutive.

Well then what's the difference between a melee weapon attack and a ranged weapon attack?  They're both weapon attacks that presumeably take the same amount of time and concentration to execute.

The difference is that one is designed to be used in melee, and the other is designed to be used at range.  The same goes for spells.  Spells, at least those that physically attack a target, are weapons; we can assume that their form matches their function.  You can easily cast thunderwave in melee but not fireball for the same reason that you can easily attack with an axe in melee but not a longbow.

I don't see any problem with having a distinction between "melee spells" and "ranged spells" just as we distinguish different types of weapons.  That's actually a categorization that might benefit 5e's spell system.

(edited for clarity) 

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan


I think you're mixing up two somewhat different ideas. My point is that as you level, instead of becoming more accurate, you gain access to more cool abilities and options, hence qualitative expansion.


     But what are "cool abilities"?
     If they are some form of +1 to hit and/or damage, you are just talking about a different way to become more accurate. 
     If you are talking about being able to attack while standing on one leg, why shoud the player be thrilled with that?
Thank you Kadim for such a thoughtful response! The reason I call 3e clunky and such is the same thing you cite as helping its expandability. The ad hoc nature of its rules is, to me, inelegant and inherently difficult to balance. This is part an aesthetic judgment, but I do feel it is objectively true that it is easier to balance under a 4e style rigidity.

One way of classifying RPG systems that I find helpful is "list based" vs "effects based."  All RPGs try to model something, whether that something is realistic or fantastic.  How they go about modeling new things is where the distinction becomes noticeable.

In a list based game, each thing that gets modeled is given its own mechanics ("ad hoc" as it's been put), and those mechanics are added to the list of things the game models.  Adding something to such a game is 'easy 'in the sense that you have free reign in how you design it.  It is very hard, though, if you want to make sure that your addition doesn't harm the game as a whole, and gets harder the more you've added already.  

In an effects-based game, you have mechanics that resolve the effects something you model might have, and as you add new things for the game to model, you pick from, combine, and perhaps fine-tune those effects.  It's harder to add things to such a game, because you are constrained in how you can model them, mechanically.  But, its much easier, in the sense that you just have to pick from existing mechanics, so you're less likely to disrupt the game's mechanical balance.

Prior to 4e, D&D was strictly a 'list based' game, and 'bloat' and 'power creep' were both inevitable as each edition was added to.  4e shaded just a bit towards effects-based, though the use of "exception based design" guaranteed that it would always be possible to expand its list of effects arbitrarily.  It still bloated noticeably, but its balance wasn't thrown as badly out of whack by that expansion of options as it could have been had it still been entirely list-based.

5e's Bounded Accuracy is an example of a somewhat effects-based mechanic.  Everyone is attacking in a wide variety of ways and with different levels of skill, talent, and experience, but the modeling of all those variable is kept mostly to one effect:  how much damage you do.  Most of the rest of 5e is very strongly list-based.  Characters choose from a list of classes, races, backgrounds, and specialties (or feats if the DM allows).  If they play casters, they choose from long lists of spells.  If not, they may be able to choose from shorter lists of manuevers.  The DM chooses from long lists of monsters for them to fight, and from long lists of items with which to reward them.


List-based games are fine if there's little impetus for the lists to grow.  If the game is covering a very specific setting or liscence or very narrow genre, for instance.  They can be put together, carefully balanced and playtested, and played as intended very successfully.  Well-done, they deliver a very 'authentic' experience, since they don't need to compromise as much in modeling the bits and tropes of their source material.  Adding to them can even be done, just advisedly, with each 'expansion' effectively re-designing the game to function at a new, higher level of complexity and balance differently.

Effects-based games are ideal for broader games, like multi-genre or 'generic' RPGs.  Games with multiple settings, that cover more than one genre, or that are otherwise highly customizeable, whether at the DM/campaign level or the player/character level.  DMs have more room to come up with their own setting, adapt the system to a new setting, change the tone of the game, or whatever.  Players have more room to define their characters as they like, in terms of description, connection to the campaign/setting and so forth, since they need to worry about mechanics only in what the character can do in mechanical terms, not how he does it, what it looks like, or why he can do it.  



 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

One thing that seems like a big misconception to me is that 4e players will be happy if they're tossed some tactical stuff and the game isn't blatantly broken. I am a 4e fan, but I do not care very much about how tactical combat is or anything like that.

What I care about is whether or not what they do produce is of good quality. In other words, I want it to be well-thought out.  

An excellent point.  4e is not just a little different from prior eds, it's well balanced and well done in ways that D&D hasn't ever put much emphasis on before.  Prior to 4e, classes were never really balanced (at all) and the game didn't remain playable at higher levels, for instance.  Those are issues of quality.  It's not that D&D tried to be imbalanced, just that they didn't try as hard, and failed to varying degrees.  

5e could use Vancian casting or modular multiclassing and still be a game that 4e fans could get behind - if it could be well-designed enough to be as (or more) balance and playable at all levels.  If the quality is there, the exact details don't matter much.

With the right underlying structure, for instance, 3e style modular multi-classing could be very well balanced, indeed, and incidentally deliver robust class balance, as well.  'Vancian' is often criticized as impossible to balance (and, when used as a synonym for the imbalances between casters and non-casters in old-school D&D, it is, by definition), but, there's no reason 'daily' powers can't be balanced, if 'day' is defined tightly enough in mechanical terms.  For instance, in 13th Age, you get a recharge of your dailies every 4th encounter.  That may be arbitrary, 'unrealistic,' and even "dissociative" but it does make balancing dailies remotely possible.

5e design, though, seems to be mostly about mashing together 'popular' details of each prior ed, rather than creating a cohesive whole.  



 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

This is moving into edition war territory, so lets let it go. Calling 4e board gamey is a pretty touchy subject, and is distracting from the main point of the thread. Agree to disagree?



{shrugs}  Well, it's true.  It IS very board game like. 
But it's also not very good at being a dungeon crawl/monster hack board game.  Because when I want that?  I'll go play Descent, or Tomb.
 

One thing that seems like a big misconception to me is that 4e players will be happy if they're tossed some tactical stuff and the game isn't blatantly broken. I am a 4e fan, but I do not care very much about how tactical combat is or anything like that.

I can't comment as a 4e fan but I think much of the resistance to the "there's an app for that" argument when someone says the game is missing something is that there's a feeling that ad hoc modules are inherently inferior. It's like native vs ported software.


The problem that some 4th players see with the "there's an app for that" aproach is the folowing.

If you look at the basics of 4th edition there isen't actualy that much difrence between 4th edition and 3rd edition played using a grid.

The difrences arose becouse the game asumed the grid being there so many class abilities,feats and special attacks (spells and manuvers) made use of the system.
So class abilities feats and special attacks would give you acess to things likes slides pushes pulls bonusus when flanking and the like.

but as a result of 5th edition having the tactical modual as somthing optional this would mean all classes, feats,spells and manuvers would have to be designed asuming the tactical modual is not used.
meaning the tactical modual would not be used to it's full potential, unless they also offer alternative class features re designed spells and manuvers and new feats/specialties to use when you use the tactical system.

Without this deep interaction between the design and the tactical system there would be litle left, what wou would be left that is not coverd in the base rules of the playtest would be the folowing

explaining what a combat grid is, explain a bit about model sizes and area of effects on a grid and adding rules for flanking.
no need to explin things like slides pushes pulls becouse there woulden't be any feats spells or manuvers using them anyway.



I think you're mixing up two somewhat different ideas. My point is that as you level, instead of becoming more accurate, you gain access to more cool abilities and options, hence qualitative expansion.


     But what are "cool abilities"?
     If they are some form of +1 to hit and/or damage, you are just talking about a different way to become more accurate. 
     If you are talking about being able to attack while standing on one leg, why shoud the player be thrilled with that?


I mean new spells, new maneuvers, new skill tricks, and new class features. These things expand your options in interesting ways, making growth about more than just "I am more accurate and do more damage."
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar

Bounded accuracy is a great idea that should have come long ago. It means that characters expand qualitatively more, while expanding quantitatively less.



I'd love to see the qualitative expansion. I don't really agree with you because I think their approach to the boundaries are just trading one devil for another. I also see BA as a reaction to a distinctly 4e issue of totally transparent number growth. Previous D&D games do have the same number growth, but they're not as open about it and the growth is justified with enough fluff that many people simply don't understand what BA is attempting to solve in the first place. Basically, there's a feeling in some quarters that it's not broken and they're fixing something ephemeral that never mattered in the first place unless you wanted it to matter.

I would love more horizontal growth: more abilities, more uses for existing abilities and generally more options available as you level. Right now, I don't see nearly enough of that. 




I struggle with the way Bounded Accuracy feels.  And they have very simply put damage at the fore in terms of scaling instead of accuracy.  The issue that arises is that Accuracy is easier to counter whereas damage just has to be absorbed.  Currently, the damage scaling is far too high for my liking, but hopefully that will change.

I also don't see any horizotal growth.  There is less focus on OOC rules and class features than there was in 3e, and things look pretty bare in each class list.  As a pathfinder player it is very hard to look at DDN and see horizontal variability... because in comparison it just isn't there.  In PF I can make 10 fighters that are mechanically distinct.  This just isn't true (yet) for DDN.

I can only hope that things will improve, because I will not be waiting around for 15 modules to see a good game.  The core needs to be engaging enough in its own right.  So far, there isn't a set of innovations here that I can really get behind, and neither can the rest of my group.  


I think you're mixing up two somewhat different ideas. My point is that as you level, instead of becoming more accurate, you gain access to more cool abilities and options, hence qualitative expansion. The ability to qualitatively differentiate two level 1 fighters is a different issue entirely from being able to qualitatively differentiate a level 1 fighter from a level 10 fighter.




Nah I was just making two different statements regarding two different ideas.  

The sum of those two ideas being that I don't see enough vertical (attack bonus scaling/power gain, due to BA) OR enough horizontal progression.(New maneuvers, special attacks, abilities, utility powers etc. etc.).  To keep the level gaining process (a cornerstone to the PC reward structure) exciting and engaging, you need to have at least one of these.  I prefer both, but will take the second if I can't have them simultaneously.


Thank you Kadim for such a thoughtful response! The reason I call 3e clunky and such is the same thing you cite as helping its expandability. The ad hoc nature of its rules is, to me, inelegant and inherently difficult to balance. This is part an aesthetic judgment, but I do feel it is objectively true that it is easier to balance under a 4e style rigidity. The aesthetic part is that I find it more elegant and intuitive. I've noticed that new players tend to find 4e's design very intuitive, while players who started with different games often find it extremely unintuitive. I'm not sure how to interpret that fact, but it's interesting. The ad hoc system seems to me like it makes expansion more difficult. There's not really a baseline, so the only way to get something right is to playtest it a lot. A rigid baseline means almost anyone can throw something together that will be pretty close to balanced, even without much playtesting.

Well here's how I think when I mod.

I've got a system in front of me and I play with it. I observe through gameplay that it doesn't do a certain thing that I'd like it to do. I then go and make something that uses the existing framework but introduces elements that are totally different to achieve the thing the framework isn't doing very well. I play with it; it changes with gameplay but the important thing the framework has to do is allow me to use totally alien mechanics that do things the existing mechanics don't do very well.


Games that are designed to be cut from a whole cloth and not deviate very much from that model get in my way here because when I mod a game, I'm expressly interested in introducing something that the model doesn't do well. My ability to expand the game in this way is hindered by the grand unification theory being applied to that game.


The other reason I mod is because I want to try something totally different, like a con-based freeform caster or whatever off-the-wall idea floats across the room that seems interesting. I'm not saying that something designed around a unified model that doesn't encourage you to deviate much can't do it, but it's not as open to change in its presentation and people who are used to seeing the grand unification theory in action resist change more. So again, systems that are cut from a whole cloth get in my way.



3e's design is sprawling and inconsistent, but it's more consistent in its expansion than 2e is. It does use certain central concepts to resolve things, but does not seek to impose a structure on the way classes access their abilities (I understand that 4e loosened this up, but I also understand that their efforts were largely met with unhappy faces so I take that as the exception that proves my point). So in this way, 3e is vastly superior from a modder's point of view because it allows for totally different mechanics that don't adhere to the core design at all to exist and interact with the core design in a way that isn't disruptive. It also creates an atmosphere among the community that this kind of crazy is OK and it's presented in such a way that encourages folks to delve into the guts of the system and play around with it. 4e's every bit as moddable as 3e, but it's not presented in such a way that encourages people to do it and most of the annecdotal evidence I read on these forums regarding 4e modding says it's largely restricted to campaign setting/fluff manipulation and a new power tree here and there, which is the difference between keyhole and open heart surgery.


And this is a major change for D&D, because every single version of D&D previously was designed in such a way that encouraged and required the players to mod the game to get exactly what they wanted from it. I'm not opposed to major changes, per se, but not being encouraged to change the fundamentals of the core system after going for years doing just that was more than a little jarring, to say the least.



Anyway I don't really wanna dump on 4e. It's a good system, it's just not my game and this was a really important point as to why it's not my game.

Anyway I don't really wanna dump on 4e. It's a good system, it's just not my game and this was a really important point as to why it's not my game.

I, on the whole, prefer 4e to 3.5, but if you told me to sit down and design a class, I'd be many times more interested in doing it for 3.5 than for 4e. There's just way more knobs to turn and directions to go. I've created custom material for 4e and enjoyed doing it, but 3.5 is much more fun for that.

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.
Anyway I don't really wanna dump on 4e. It's a good system, it's just not my game and this was a really important point as to why it's not my game.

I, on the whole, prefer 4e to 3.5, but if you told me to sit down and design a class, I'd be many times more interested in doing it for 3.5 than for 4e. There's just way more knobs to turn and directions to go. I've created custom material for 4e and enjoyed doing it, but 3.5 is much more fun for that.

Exactly

I've noticed that new players tend to find 4e's design very intuitive, while players who started with different games often find it extremely unintuitive. I'm not sure how to interpret that fact, but it's interesting.



Largely because 4E plays closer to other games that people have played, because everything is defined and the improvisation elements are heavily downplayed. There's also a heavy emphasis on mechanics and none on flavor text.

For instance, attacks of opportunity in previous editions were things like "Casting a spell in melee". In 4E it's because you used an area or ranged attack. This means you can cast a thunderwave in melee combat without problem, but you can't cast a fireball. If you think of it from a flavor standpoint, it's rather unintutive. If you treat it like a board game and ignore the flavor text entirely, it seems pretty simple to pick up.




The improvisation in 4E is not downplayed. They literally put rules in to handle improvisation (I'm pretty sure it was the first time too). So they uplayed it not downplayed it. Previous editions you improvised because you didn't have the option not to. 4E gave you the option to improvise or not...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.

See I find the flavor of being able to cast thunderwave in melee while not being able to cast fireball makes a ton of sense. The whole point of thunderwave is it's a powerful blast that knocks enemies back. That is a strong fantasy trope, and it makes no sense for that sort of attack to not work perfectly well in melee.

Just because the flavor is different doesn't make it worse.


The utility and balance makes more sense, but the actual flavor reasoning doesn't. The spell takes the same time to cast as magic missile, and presumably both involve you standing there waving your arms about making arcane gestures. So why would thunderwave not provoke but magic missile would? If you're sitting there casting the spell for the same amount of time, you'd be leaving yourself open to attack with either of them.

Often when teaching 4E to people from prior editions, I have to tell them to stop thinking about it as an RPG, and just analyze it like a board game, becuase that makes it way easier to understand. You can't think about what's actually going on in the story, you have to consider what's going on mechanically.


Also, every single power has flavor text paired with it. The difference is, the flavor text is treated as inspiration rather than rule. This does to a certain extent emphasize mechanics over flavor. But it really only does that because people interpret it that way. If you want to you can approach the flavor text as rules content, it just goes against the player-empowerment vibe the game gives off.



Yeah, the vibe is something that really throws off players of older editions, but is meant to welcome players of board games and competitive games like Magic the Gathering where the rules are sancrosanct, and the flavor text is ignorable.



This is true of any edition. Your brain has two parts the logical math side and the emotional art side. When first learning math and logic that side of your brain takes precedence so people find it hard to role play. The only reason you didn't see this when switching from 2E to 3E is that 2E and 3E's core is very similar so they weren't really learning a whole lot of new math or logic...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
This is moving into edition war territory, so lets let it go. Calling 4e board gamey is a pretty touchy subject, and is distracting from the main point of the thread. Agree to disagree?



{shrugs}  Well, it's true.  It IS very board game like. 
But it's also not very good at being a dungeon crawl/monster hack board game.  Because when I want that?  I'll go play Descent, or Tomb.
 



Its no more board game like than any other edition. You are using language that elicits an emotional response which is edition warring.

Now if you felt that 4E was too tactical and the power system was too homogenized that's fine, but please quit using insulting language to incite edition warring...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Lokiare, I appreciate the defense, but this is territory we've covered a million times before, and it's not even relevant to the thread. Defend 4e somewhere else, it's just going to derail this thread.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
Lokiare, I appreciate the defense, but this is territory we've covered a million times before, and it's not even relevant to the thread. Defend 4e somewhere else, it's just going to derail this thread.



I'm not defending 4E. I'm pointing out the edition warring language, something that the moderators won't do, so that we can have a better discourse. Seriously just tell us specifically why you didn't like it instead of using hot button phrases that start arguments. We'll keep going over it until you stop starting edition wars...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
*cough* so anyway yeah. I think that 4e's design was fine but the reason we're looking at a more 3e style design is because modding it is more fun and one of the objectives is to let folks mod and have the module picking process be fun.
I guess I just don't care about how easy it is to make what I would consider a bad mod.

That's a mean way of putting it, but it summarizes my feelings. It's true, making a class in 3e is very easy, and lots of people did it. But making a balanced class in 3e was difficult, to the point that professional designers failed hard at it regularly. As far as I am concerned, imbalanced is automatically bad. If a class isn't at least somewhat balanced, it isn't really worth considering its other virtues. All the content pumped out for 3e was like spam email. A nuisance, not a useful feature.

I'm being a little hyperbolic of course. Ultimately what matters is balance in play at the table, not theoretical balance. Nevertheless, the thing I look for is a system that makes it as easy as possible to design good content, not one that makes it as easy as possible to design any content at all. 
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
I guess I just don't care about how easy it is to make what I would consider a bad mod.

That's a mean way of putting it, but it summarizes my feelings. It's true, making a class in 3e is very easy, and lots of people did it. But making a balanced class in 3e was difficult, to the point that professional designers failed hard at it regularly. As far as I am concerned, imbalanced is automatically bad. If a class isn't at least somewhat balanced, it isn't really worth considering its other virtues. All the content pumped out for 3e was like spam email. A nuisance, not a useful feature.

I'm being a little hyperbolic of course. Ultimately what matters is balance in play at the table, not theoretical balance. Nevertheless, the thing I look for is a system that makes it as easy as possible to design good content, not one that makes it as easy as possible to design any content at all. 



The alternative is the gross amount of homogenization that makes 4e the most balanced D&D edition ever made.  It is very difficult to equivocate abilities when they are unique.  It is worse, in my opinion, to not have unique abilities at all.  What is the fighter's Parry ability "worth"?  When you start modding these things, that will always be a difficult assesment, and it will be further compounded by how a particular group plays the game.  If I run a game where 70% of monsters use ranged attacks or spells, parry is less valuable.  If I make a game where 70% of attacks are melee attacks, parry is more valuable.

So if you trade out parry for some other ability, you are going to have a hard time making things match up exactly.  I think the goal should be approximate balance with situational imbalance from the get go.  If you ensure that certain classes have the advantage in certain encounters (within reason obviously... you don't want any  encounters where a class is useless) then the DM can make sure to give everyone a bit of spotlight.  As always, I think the design process should be more concerned with what's cool unique interesting and fun and the balance can come later. 
I don't see the Fighter Class Features Combat Agility and Combat Superiority as being homogenous or easily equatable. But I do see them as basically balanced.
I guess I just don't care about how easy it is to make what I would consider a bad mod.

That's a mean way of putting it, but it summarizes my feelings. It's true, making a class in 3e is very easy, and lots of people did it. But making a balanced class in 3e was difficult, to the point that professional designers failed hard at it regularly. As far as I am concerned, imbalanced is automatically bad. If a class isn't at least somewhat balanced, it isn't really worth considering its other virtues. All the content pumped out for 3e was like spam email. A nuisance, not a useful feature.

I'm being a little hyperbolic of course. Ultimately what matters is balance in play at the table, not theoretical balance. Nevertheless, the thing I look for is a system that makes it as easy as possible to design good content, not one that makes it as easy as possible to design any content at all. 



The alternative is the gross amount of homogenization that makes 4e the most balanced D&D edition ever made.  It is very difficult to equivocate abilities when they are unique.  It is worse, in my opinion, to not have unique abilities at all.  What is the fighter's Parry ability "worth"?  When you start modding these things, that will always be a difficult assesment, and it will be further compounded by how a particular group plays the game.  If I run a game where 70% of monsters use ranged attacks or spells, parry is less valuable.  If I make a game where 70% of attacks are melee attacks, parry is more valuable.

So if you trade out parry for some other ability, you are going to have a hard time making things match up exactly.  I think the goal should be approximate balance with situational imbalance from the get go.  If you ensure that certain classes have the advantage in certain encounters (within reason obviously... you don't want any  encounters where a class is useless) then the DM can make sure to give everyone a bit of spotlight.  As always, I think the design process should be more concerned with what's cool unique interesting and fun and the balance can come later. 


What you see as homogenization, I consider elegance. 4e was pretty well balanced, and to me the classes felt subtantially more diverse than they do in 3.5. When you don't create a base framework, design ends up surprisingly constrained. What did the 3.5 fighter get? Extra feats, which is just more of the same stuff everyone got. What did the rogue get? Sneak attack, extra skills (again, just more of what everyone else has), and a few fairly minor class features. These classes are not especially different. They look different, but they really aren't.

When you do create a framework for your game, you are also defining the design space. This gives you a good idea of how to make things really diverse right off the bat, because the design space is laid out in front of you, transparent for all to see.

It is possible to over-define your game. Early 4e suffered from some over-definition and some under-definition, a lot of which was fixed over the course of its run. 

4e had many issues, but I believe strongly that its basic core was extremely robust, extremely flexible, and a powerful system for exercising creativity in class design.

I do agree with you that all balance is situational. The way I view it is that any system can be balanced under certain circumstances. The DM can always use the story as a way to wedge balance into the game. As a game becomes more balanced, there are more and more situations that are balanced and fewer situations that are imbalanced. This effectively opens up the game to better storytelling, because the DM is not nearly as constrained. He can throw a variety of unusual things out at his players and know that the system is robust enough to handle it. 
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar

I guess I just don't care about how easy it is to make what I would consider a bad mod.

It entirely depends on the objective of the mod. If my objective is to make something that does something in a totally different way to what I've got in front of me, then the 3e system is better suited to that. 4e's system demands a certain amount of conformity that 3e's system doesn't, so my efforts to do something radically different from how 4e does stuff generally would result in a bad mod for 4e. In that circumstance, 3e accomodates me and 4e doesn't.

Someone in another thread suggested doing things to 4e to make it more interesting, like eliminiate powers entirely and go totally from improvised actions and so on. The thing I noticed about the suggestions were that they applied to the whole of 4e, not just one part of it. It's only one example but it illustrates my point: making a system that is an exception to the rules in 4e is not as easy or fun as it is in 3e. Modding 4e tends to be a more universal affair.

 That's a mean way of putting it, but it summarizes my feelings. It's true, making a class in 3e is very easy, and lots of people did it. But making a balanced class in 3e was difficult, to the point that professional designers failed hard at it regularly. As far as I am concerned, imbalanced is automatically bad. If a class isn't at least somewhat balanced, it isn't really worth considering its other virtues. All the content pumped out for 3e was like spam email. A nuisance, not a useful feature.

Making a balanced class in any system is difficult. Modding well is hard and takes hours of work and then tens (if not hundreds) of hours to playtest and adjust. The beauty of 3e is it encouraged folks to mod, but it's not as if everyone was good at it or took the necessary time to create something really exceptional.

I think it's more accurate to say that they created stuff that was balanced for them, which is good enough for most people. Something that's balanced for everyone is almost impossible in itself but if you mean well enough to be adopted by a broad base, yeah that takes some serious time. I modded DDN to my liking in the space of ten minutes, but it's taken me a good 40 hours of testing before I got to the first round of rewriting with a lot of small edits as the sessions progress.


The reason I go into that kind of depth when I mod is I have a table that's got a lot of strong opinions and very different focuses in the game. I've got a mathmatician who almost entirely focuses on numbers and game theory sat next to an administrator who really just wants to roleplay and has little to no interest in actually building a character; he just wants to pick a class and go. I've got another guy who doesn't plan ahead but does look at where we start and lands somewhere between the two and I'm pretty number oriented myself but I want concepts to supercede numbers pretty much every time, and my mods have to keep everyone happy.


But whatever the mod, the objective of that mod and the players for making that mod has a lot to do with whether 3e's system is more suited to it. If nothing else, I think the sheer variety is necessary to accomodate everyone and 4e's system just doesn't bend enough - at least for me.

I'm being a little hyperbolic of course. Ultimately what matters is balance in play at the table, not theoretical balance. Nevertheless, the thing I look for is a system that makes it as easy as possible to design good content, not one that makes it as easy as possible to design any content at all.

If the content is good at the table then it's good content, which is what you just said yourself. I don't think it's fair to say that any game system is better at providing cool things at the table than others. They're just different. I also think that a good mod isn't produced by a system or any more difficult or easy by virtue of a system. Ultimately it boils down to the individual and their inclination to make it work well. That takes time, effort, some writing skills and the willingness to compromise. Not everyone is going to write good mods. I think what you're seeing is not a systemic fault with 3e, I think it's a saturation effect as eveyrone as encouraged to mod. It's like how everyone only remembers the good music from an era: there's a lot of rubbish produced all the time. The stuff that survives is the absolute cream of the crop.