Before I begin, I want to state that this is all my personal opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and no one's opinion is "wrong" even if they disagree with me. These are my own feelings and they do not represent no one beyond myself.
4E was a good game but it was not the game for me. Here are a few of them and how I would like to see it altered in D&DNext. I posted a bit on the forums here (and got a fair reply here), and I wanted to expand on that without threadjacking (hence this post).
Classes had a role and a powersource. This was probably the biggest thing that really put me off of 4E. A fighter was a martial defender. A wizard is an arcane controller. My first thought when I heard this was, "Well why bother have the traditional class names? Why not just call the class arcane controller and martial striker or psionic leader and so forth? If you're not going to use the established flavor of the basic words, why bother use those words." Which led to my thought of, "But what if I want a fighter that doesn't specialize in his sword but instead is decent with a number of different weapons?" I know that this is not the typical option in D&D. Most often people choose to specialize in one type of weapon and stick to that weapon until the day the character dies or the campaign ends. And I feel like my options got lessen by pigeonholing the fighter into the defender role.
What gets less mentioned is the fact that choosing a powersource also pigeonholes a character just as much. One of my last 3.5 characters was a half-giant fighter that was inlove with magic. He wanted to be a wizard but was only smart enough to cast cantrips. So he never took a single class level. But he had cross class ranks in knowledge (arcana). Yes a fighter with cross class ranks in an Int based skill with no Int bonus. Needless to say, he didn't do much in that department, but it was all about role playing. Had he lived longer, he would have improved his Int and taken a single level of wizard and would have been proud of his cantrips. Translate that to 4E and he wouldn't have been able to do that since multiclassing wasn't really done. And sure, he could have done rituals (see the things the 4E had right section), but would that same personal struggle have been there? Probably not. Not only that he would have been stepping on the toes of the arcane controller by doing that. Since everyone has their own role, personal stories like that.
The Fix: So how do we make this better? Let characters be open. If I want a fighter that is primarily a dex-based finesse weaponer, but is also known to grab a two handed sword shake it up, let me do so. Don't make everything be about the "at-wills and the encounters and the dailies" If I want a wide range of abilities to make my character a jack of all trades guy that are sub-optional compared to a single weapon specialist, let me do so. There should be a way for non-spellcasters to cast minor spells (perhaps an optional module way). The wizard theme would be perfect, if it didn't require the person be able to cast spells already. Suppose I just want my rogue to cast detect magic or my fighter to use magic missile instead of a bow. Let me do that.
Grid is Required/Fireball is a Square/Distances are Squares. This one has been addressed (atleast I hope fireball is a square is being addressed) so I'm not going to waste space on it.
Tieflings and Dragonborn in the Forgotten Realms. This decision also rubbed me the wrong way. If I can play in the FR again without feeling like Tieflings and Dragonborn are forced upon me, I'll play there.
What 4E got Right, IMO.
Enough time on what I don't care about 4E. What do I want to see that was in 4E in D&DNext.
Rituals. Oh my god, yes! Please. Keep Rituals. Make all of the "OMG broken, quadratic wizard spells" a ruitual. Please. Give a cleric/wizard the option to be better at it than anyone else there but give fighters and rogues a way to help or a way to do it themselves. Let a fighter lead a ritual that can turn a city to dust. Make the cult of orcus sacrifice an entire town so they can create some evil unholy undead monstrosity that requires several powerful casters to perform. I have wanted a way to mechanically do that since day one.
Easy GMing. I hear 4E is a breeze to GM. I don't know. I never have. But I can say that D&DNext was damn easy. Please keep that. It is awesome!
Next time I'll discuss 3.5/Pathfinder and say things from those that they got right and they didn't and how the good can be incorporated and the bad be altered to make D&DNext the best game ever.
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