Answer the Haters: 4e and Role-Playing.

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I think I'm actually going to start a weekly...thing with this: a chance for pro-4ers to answer some of the more merciless critics without the thread devolving into a flamefest. (At least, I should hope not.) Please note that I am quoting large portions of material verbatim, and this is not a "stealth troll." As you will see in the following, I am actually defending 4e.

Here's the scenario:

A fellow claims that 4e "fails utterly at being an RPG." I ask him to explain his statement. He says,
[Hero/Warhammer]Quest is a fun beer'n'pretzels game where you have characters that go into dungeons and kill ****, and laugh when people die. Mooks die in a round or less and boss monsters die quickly but still provide a challenge. 4e is a less fun beer and pretzels game where you're supposed to take killing **** seriously (while pretending to be a real RPG where you actually care about character development that doesn't actually exist in the core books), dying is almost definite if the DM isn't really, really careful with challenging encounters and everything takes ****ing forever to die.

I then pointed out that role-playing was dependent upon the people playing, not the system.

He responds,
It is, of course. You can totally RP a game of Axis and Allies if you want to. But... in a good RPG, you don't have to fight against the system to role-play. But 4e both kicks you in the head with the fact that its a game where you're shoving miniatures around on a battle map, and discourages role-playing in favor of just resolving absolutely everything with a die roll.

Take the illusionist (again). In good role-playing games, an illusionist can do all sorts of wacky ****, in and out of combat. In 4e, an 'illusionist' ****ing kills people. And has no ability to do anything *but* (try) to kill people with illusions. Thats ****ed up, and that, to me says 'board game' far more than RPG.

Out of 200-300 powers in the 4e PH, how many do anything outside of combat? A dozen? Maybe two dozen? It isn't many.

I said, "But how exactly is using illusions role-playing? Isn't that just mechanical?" He replied,
You might be taking that a bit far. But no, it isn't just mechanical. There is cool **** you can do that doesn't give you a single mechanical bonus in every edition of D&D except 4th. In 4th, anything that isn't mechanical isn't worth doing, and that makes me sad.

...[T]his sort of argument drives me crazy.

So you aren't in combat, and you are playing 4E, your choices are:

1) Not be an Illusionist at all.
2) Claim that you can make illusions, even though the rules say you can't. Ask everyone else to join you in your game of Magical Tea Party.

So you can't play an Illusionist unless you are willing to play a freeform game, in which case you should just go play that.

If you can seriously get your group to agree on what you can do out of combat, then you could get them to agree on what you could do in combat and it would be more interesting then what 4e has.

(Seriously a Single always active Silent Image that provided no way to see through it and used your standard action every round would be more interesting and powerful then any other character).

Basically, there are two arguments in there.

1. Having mechanics for everything discourages role-playing.
2. You can't play an actual illusionist in 4e.

Answer one or both arguments, please. HOWEVER, there are rules to this sort of game. I'm going to lay them out nice and easy for you because I'm a great kind of guy, see?

1. Answer the argument as a whole. Do not break it up into a billion little pieces that you're going to dissect, losing sight of the actual discussion.

2. In this same vein...
a) "Design a ritual for it" is not an acceptable answer. The DM should not have to make things up to provide for a system that is lacking.

b) "Illusionists can cast save-or-dies in 3e" avoids the meat of the argument. Again, focus on the whole.

c) "Saying that you can't play an 'actual illusionist' is the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy." Stop right there. If an illusionist can't make illusions, then he's not really an illusionist, now is he? The 4e illusionist has the same generic powers as the 4e vanilla wizard with illusion flavor text applied. That's not the same as casting illusion spells, and I think we all know it--not being able to create a silent image is a big letdown, at least for those fond of the 3e illusionist.

I think those are all the stipulations. So pro-4ers, I want to hear your thoughts on this.
D&D has always been two games, amateur dramatics/storytelling (non-combat), and a "board game" (combat).

...At least now the "board-game" part of it isn't crap.

And true role-playing transcends any game or system.
What's an Illusionist?
1. Having mechanics for everything discourages role-playing.

I see a bizarre contradiction in these arguments. Oftentimes the people who say that 4E has too many mechanics for every single thing, also say that the only thing it has mechanics for is combat. They don't seem to realize that both of these things cannot be true. I believe it was a deliberate design that they would only largely cover combat and challenges in rules mechanics, while relegating everything else (backstory skills, alignment) to no mechanics at all. Since the mechanics of most, if not all, RPGs are largely for the use of conflict resolution, there isn't really a purpose for mechanics outside conflict (whether that conflict be battle, or a race, or a negotiation, or a trap).

2. You can't play an actual illusionist in 4e.

You can't play a lot of things in 4E yet. Artificers, druids, psions, large creatures, flying creatures, and all sorts of other stuff. Of course, the same is true with every edition. Not everything was released right away. Games like these are a work in progress up until they are replaced by the next edition. If we start judging things by what isn't there rather than what is, then every edition of D&D was crap for the first few years... even then, there was plenty I wanted to play that has never been released.
Non-damaging illusions are already in 4e for non-combat purposes. The rituals Hallucinatory Creature and Hallucinatory Item are certainly illusions. Further, the Ghost Sound and Prestidigitation cantrips can create illusions. Several of these effects could even be used together to create more complex deceptions. However, it is fair to say that these still sum to a small part of a character's choice of actions- the PH does not allow you to make a character who is primarily an illusionist. Still, the generalist wizard in the PH can make use of illusions.

Further, illusion spells in combat (and other damaging effects) don't have to kill. They can render creatures unconscious instead, as the PH clearly states. Thus, it's perfectly reasonable to say that the illusion attack spells from the article can be used to overwhelm an enemy's mind and knock him out. They just can't do it with one roll anymore.

This may not be the answer the OP wants, but it's important to include some facts from the actual rulebooks in these discussions.

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.

What's an Illusionist?

I'm thinking for 4th Ed it will be a Shadow Controller.
Non-damaging illusions are already in 4e for non-combat purposes. The rituals Hallucinatory Creature and Hallucinatory Item are certainly illusions. Further, the Ghost Sound and Prestidigitation cantrips can create illusions. Several of these effects could even be used together to create more complex deceptions. However, it is fair to say that these still sum to a small part of a character's choice of actions- the PH does not allow you to make a character who is primarily an illusionist. Still, the generalist wizard in the PH can make use of illusions.

Further, illusion spells in combat (and other damaging effects) don't have to kill. They can render creatures unconscious instead, as the PH clearly states. Thus, it's perfectly reasonable to say that the illusion attack spells from the article can be used to overwhelm an enemy's mind and knock him out. They just can't do it with one roll anymore.

This may not be the answer the OP wants, but it's important to include some facts from the actual rulebooks in these discussions.

and it was nice of wizards to give us the illusion spells in dragon, does this make the wizard an illusionist ? not a great one but it's a step in the right direction until they release the illusionist class, paticularly if you add a little fey pact lock to the mix
Moreover, many of the less broken and simpler spells of the Illusion school actually made it into the PHB. Color Spray, Blur, Mirror Image, Invisibility and others are all there. If that's your schtick, you can poach Dragon Mag powers too and have your Illusionist early.
The current list of illusion spells don't really feel very "illusion'ish" to me, possibly because they seem more like rehashes of existing spells.

Though to be fair, illusions in 3e could be very difficult to adjudicate properly (for example, it is not uncommon to use silent image to create the illusion of a deep pit in the middle of the battlefield, but depending on how your DM opts to implement it, it can either be very useful or nigh useless).

I am still undecided as to whether 4e's streamlining of powers is a good or bad thing though.

1. Having mechanics for everything discourages role-playing.

I disagree with this. At least for me, I felt I could roleplay fairly well in 3e, which tried to provide detailed rules framework for just about everything under the sun.

Conversely, 4e intentionally leaves quite a few areas vague. I am not sure if wotc intended for the DM to have more say in these areas, but there are some aspects which seem okay on paper, but fall apart when you try to run it due to the lack of an internally consistent rules guideline (such as the hardness of walls, what the "hidden" condition entails, faulty skill challenge mechanics receiving far less attention than it should etc).
It is important not to underestimate 4E cantrips.

For the first time ever in D&D, wizards in 4E have an unlimited ability to perform minor magical tricks by default. Prestidigitation, Ghost Sound, and Mage Hand are as useful as ever, almost entirely non-combat, and completely at-will.

That by itself improves wizard roleplayability in 4E beyond what previous editions offered.

As for true illusionists, word was that the Illusionist class was going to be in a future PHB. I don't know if the Dragon article providing Illusion-themed spells is a retraction of that or just something to tide players over until the Illusionist is unveiled (pun not intended).
Cantrip, Color Spray, Ghost Sound, Mirror Image, Invisibility.

It's all still there. Playing an Illusionist now requires more thought than just writing Illusionist on your character sheet and banning Evocation is all. Illusionists don't have the same ways around things they used to (Shadow Invocation, Shadow Conjuration, etc), but they're still viable.

The fact that there's no class called illusionist doesn't mean you can't play one, and frankly that kind of thinking demonstrates an inability to think outside of game terms, which is probably a major contribution to the second issue; the idea that roleplaying is somehow lacking in 4E. If you can't step outside of class titles to play a character instead of a stereotype, then we can't really help.
runestar:

That's exactly my point. Outside of a few spells, 3e Wizards in core weren't much like Illusionists either. Moreover, throughout 3e, the problem of adjudicating potentially broken usages of illusions was always a problem - a reason why I often chose to avoid the spells altogether.

I'm hoping that 4e Illusionists are going to be more user-friendly and yet be intuitive and involve the Insight skill as well.
You're never going to convince the people who can't see it. They won't see it. They are going to hate no matter what anyone says.

Your best bet is to add them to your ignore list and move on to more important things. You'll find that once you add 5 people to your ignore list, these forums become much more productive. You'll figure out which 5 pretty quickly (if you haven't already).
If you ignore them, they will go away. By arguing with them you're just encouraging them, by even acknowledging them, you're encouraging them.
Im just going to add that disguise self is also a ritual. So between rituals, the class acts articles and spells already in the php plus the cantrips you can make a pretty good illusionist. And since you can always choose to render someone uncouncious that firball or wall of fire can be described as an illusion that merley damages their minds. I dont have a link to it but in a pod cast interview Mike Mearls specifically stated that he and most of the rest of the design staff encourage players to change fluff text on powers as much as they wanted.
Basically, there are two arguments in there.

1. Having mechanics for everything discourages role-playing.
2. You can't play an actual illusionist in 4e.

Answer one or both arguments, please.

First: Having mechanics for everything does discourage role-playing. That's why 4e has fewer non-combat mechanics than 3.x did.

So you want to have been a journeyman weaponsmith before you took up adventuring? Okay, if you borrow a forge from somewhere you can spend a few days making a serviceable axe. You want to be a talented actor? Okay, you're a talented actor: you can get up in front of an audience at any pub or street corner and put on a mummer's display that gets them laughing, crying, or thinking.

4e strongly encourages roleplaying by removing and simplifying skill mechanics, as well as by devoting a significant page count to leading questions about new characters. A primary design conceit, deliberately stated and emphasized in a half-dozen places in the DMG, is "Say yes when your players want to do cool stuff." As part of that philosophy, skills were merged and simplified to make it easy to fit an action into one of several broad categories--and then the mechanic was further simplified so that even untrained characters stand a chance of success.

If your friend argues that 4e "discourages role-playing in favor of just resolving absolutely everything with a die roll", then he needs to answer first:
  • How this is not an equally valid criticism of any fantasy game that includes non-combat mechanics. The 3.5 edition of D&D, for example, expected players to resolve actions from tying a knot to playing chess to singing a song with a skill check.

  • How 4e's skill challenge mechanic, which explicitly invites innovation and original ideas from players, quashes creativity.

Second: It's a red herring to claim that this the inability to play an illusionist is a critical flaw in 4e. I've come across this argument several times now, and every time the arguer has really meant "Wizards should be able to do everything."

Your friend alludes to this when he says "Seriously a Single always active Silent Image... would be more interesting and powerful then any other character." What he's eliding in his analysis is that the "true" illusionist's ability to end every encounter with a single spell is drastically unfair to players who aren't illusionists.

By extension, the fact that virtually every iconic NPC from Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms is a wizard or (rarely) cleric is not a strength of previous editions. There seems to be a population of players who have so thoroughly internalized the examples of Mordenkainen and Elminster that they've developed Stockholm Syndrome, and now strongly identify with D&D's most prominent flaw. I try to help these people, and I occasionally pity them, but I studiously avoid playing with them.
Just to weigh in about comments and perspectives on illusions. Many illusions, such as ghost sound and major image, in 3rd ed had a bit of wiggle room in arbitrating their use. This is a good thing. While many may like it better when the rule is so precise that no arbitration is needed at all, when some is needed it allows for more freedom of interpretation and creativity. Simplification by eliminating required arbitration has a place in speeding things up, but the side effect is usually a removal of options that previously existed and a less creative possibility of effect. From everything I am reading, as I haven't yet had the chance to try 4th edition, design emphasis was on simplification and limiting the need for DM/player arbitration, and consequently I am hearing frequently on these boards about 4th edition homogenizing a significant portion of the game experience in this pursuit for simplification, balance, and speed. I have to admit, if all a person ever knew about 4th edition was based on the impressions found on these boards I very much doubt they would want to play it. Certainly not when compared to earlier editions of the game. I know I am left very much with the impressions that D&D has been simplified into a tactical board game, not a complete role-playing system as previous iterations were. My 2 cents.
Couldn't you just play a charismatic wizard with really good bluff ability? With some creative description and RP you could replicate a stronger Illusionist feel.
Complete roleplaying system? D&D?
After DMing 4th twice now, I have come to the following (basic) conclusions:

-Combat is insanely streamlined, though at times it can get a little confusing with all the effects that can be taking place.

-As a DM (WARNING: Opinion), I find 4th a much easier facilitator of RPing. The skills list is more condensed, so now someone like a fighter will be good at all types of athletics (but not stuff like balancing)...so I have them roll athletics if the situation calls for it. If things aren't covered, ability checks all the way baby =)

-Rituals, for the Wizard in my party, rock. I made a simple (I know it may sound crappy) ritual for him, taught by an NPC, which requires only a day's supply of water for a PC. Depending on his knowledge nature roll (not that high cause he's a wiz) he can create a zone of "cool mist (think Air Conditioning) no matter how hot it is. I intend this to be used to the max later on, but currently they are traveling through a very hot area right now, failing to use this ritual will cause the characters wearing black and heavy armor to suffer greatly
Improving the mechanics doesn't reduce the roleplaying.
fo diggity Twitter: www.twitter.com/fodigg Comic Books You Should Have Read: http://tinyurl.com/ycxe9l7
Improving the mechanics doesn't reduce the roleplaying.

Corollary:

Games don't fail to roleplay; players do.
I'm awaiting a response or three.

I already know part of what I'm going to hear:

1. For the guy who suggested a wizard with high Charisma: "I want to play D&D, not Magical Tea Party." Hand-waving the rules is subject to the DM and so isn't a valid argument.

2. The same goes for the fellow who said that 4e allows for players to do cool and interesting things without having any game mechanics for them: "Magical Tea Party. Characters who don't know how to work as blacksmiths shouldn't be forging armor and weaponry. Even if the character is a blacksmith in his background, it's just hand-waving the rules."

3. Illusions are a huge part of wizardry. It has nothing to do with wanting the wizard to "do everything," but rather to be able to be an illusionist.

Again, these are just preliminary thoughts. I will post actual responses later.
2. You can't play an actual illusionist in 4e.

Blatently false.

Almost every illusion spell that wasn't a save or die or blatent cheat (Shadow X) has been reprinted in 4th ED. In fact some of the SoDs got changed around and added in. In fact I'll go archive hunting and grab my list to prove it.

Edit: Stuipid search being down. Okay heres the quick and dirty version

In 4th E as spell:
Ghost Sound (bonus! Unlimited use!)
Color Spray
Disguise Self
Ventriloquism(Ghost sound does this now)
Blur
Hypnotic Pattern
Invisibility
Displacement
Mirror Image
Invisibility, Greater:
Scintillating Pattern:
Rainbow Pattern (Under a different name I believe. Wizards get a decent amount of color spells that stun you.)

In as ritual:
Magic Mouth
Silent Image
Minor Image
Major Image
Hallucinatory Terrain:
Illusory Wall:
Mirage Arcana:
Persistent Image:
Permanent Image:
Programmed Image
Shadow Walk
Project Image


Removed for being HAX:
Phantasmal Killer:
Shadow Conjuration:
Shadow Evocation:
Shadow Conjuration, Greater:
Shadow Evocation, Greater:
Shades:
Weird:

Removed for being a waste of time in 4th:
Magic Aura
Phantom Trap
Misdirection
Illusory Script (Use secret page)
False Vision (Illusions that work only on scrying? Why not go the distance and use a lower level spell that works on everyone?)
Mislead
Screen (It's called Forbiddance. Use it)

Just removed:
Invisibility Sphere
Invisibility, Mass (Though WotC said they killed these because it invalidates the stealth skill too much)
Dream
Nightmare: (Niche ritual, should be one for both if brought back.)
Seeming +
Veil: (Alternately they wanted people to actually USE disguise. But it's arguable.)
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
And what, exactly, is so awesome about Illusionists that merits them being added over Abjurers or Necromancers or Enchanters? Wizard specialization has gone the way of THAC0, weapon speeds, and fireballs (firecubes now).

What you need to understand is that D&D 4.0 is as much like 3.5 as 3.5 is like 2nd, or like 1st edition resembles any other system. The problem is that you expect a different system to be exactly as you thought it should be, when it won't be and can't be. Instead, a system was made that tries to allow for maximum roleplay possibility, while trying to make combat as simple as possible.

I'm having issues imagining an Illusionist class in 4.0 that isn't either broken or useless. Considering some WotC splatbooks and other later releases, I'm not hopeful for balance.

In the end, though, if you find that 4.0 is so completely foreign to how you played D&D, you do have options. Just as people have said for ages, WotC ninjas won't visit you in the night, and steal your 3.5 books. If 3.5 works better for you, use it.

(I've always wondered about the need to force the system to become what you want, when there is a system in existence that does the job better. Why contort a system into what it isn't, when in the end, you are not playing 4.0 anyway? You are playing 4.0 homebrew style.)
The same goes for the fellow who said that 4e allows for players to do cool and interesting things without having any game mechanics for them: "Magical Tea Party. Characters who don't know how to work as blacksmiths shouldn't be forging armor and weaponry. Even if the character is a blacksmith in his background, it's just hand-waving the rules."

DMG p.42.

Nearly everything in the game follows page 42. Page 42 was provided for us so that individual groups can add in the specific things they want to be able to do that the mechanics do not otherwise explicitly provide (that is, write up a paragraph of fluff around a table drawn from page 42). No ruleset can provide explicit rules for every action or capability desired; instead, you get general rules like these designed as catch-alls.

If your DM wants to work forging into the game, it's simply a matter of assigning results based on page 42 and suggesting that players can take the Smithing skill, as it will have application in his campaign.

This is not inventing rules. This is inventing fluff around the rules on page 42. This is precisely what the rules direct you to do.
First, to generally address "Magical Tea Party" complaints: we are talking about Dungeons and Dragons, a game in which otherwise reasonable adults gather to pretend that they are monster-slaying elves. "Magical Tea Party" is, to put it mildly, a conceit of the genre.

I understand that it's important for the DM and players to have a shared framework for storytelling; that's why we play with rules and minis, instead of playing actual Magical Tea Party. With that in mind, I'll discuss the points you outlined.

1. For the guy who suggested a wizard with high Charisma: "I want to play D&D, not Magical Tea Party." Hand-waving the rules is subject to the DM and so isn't a valid argument.

2. The same goes for the fellow who said that 4e allows for players to do cool and interesting things without having any game mechanics for them: "Magical Tea Party. Characters who don't know how to work as blacksmiths shouldn't be forging armor and weaponry. Even if the character is a blacksmith in his background, it's just hand-waving the rules."

3. Illusions are a huge part of wizardry. It has nothing to do with wanting the wizard to "do everything," but rather to be able to be an illusionist.

Here's the problem: there are already illusion powers for the wizard, two of which (ghost sound and, arguably, prestidigitation) are usable at-will. Several more are officially available through an article in this month's Dragon.

If your friend wants a character built around the theme of manipulating minds to frustrate and confound his foes, there are currently at least two good options: build a high-Charisma, high-Intelligence wizard with good interaction skills and a selection of illusion powers, or build a fey-pact warlock (possibly re-writing some of the flavor text on powers). If instead what he wants is to be able to end an entire encounter--for instance, by fooling the castle guards into believing a dragon has just landed in the courtyard--there are problems:

1) Even in previous editions, there was a great deal of hand-waving involved. It was hard-wired that you could cast major image, but the actual effect of the spell was entirely up to the DM. This doesn't really invoke the shared framework of rules, and is therefore just a thinly-disguised game of Magical Tea Party.

2) It's a game of Magical Tea Party that only the illusionist can play. I can't stress this enough. How much fun is it to play the fighter, or even the cleric, when the wizard just singlehandedly forced a castle to surrender?

I can conceive of the illusionary dragon being used in 4e in a balanced way as a skill challenge:

Illusionary Summoning
The PCs have researched or discovered an unusual group ritual, and decide to employ it. They gather over a brazier redolent with the fumes of exotic incense, and stare through the heat shimmer at the magic circle chalked upon the wall.The primary caster makes an Arcana check to get things started, and now the players get to make all sorts of checks: History to model the dragon's behavior after actual attacks, Nature to make the dragon more properly dragon-y, Intimidate to make the dragon more thoroughly imposing, etc.

But if you throw out making up new rituals as hand-waving, and reject skill challenges as too much dice-rolling, there aren't a whole lot of tools left in the box to depict powerful non-combat actions.
My suggestion to him is 'lern2creativ'.

Everything in 4e is pretty modular and the flavor text is minimal. More importantly, we're no longer forced to spend a feat to change how our powers look.

Apart from Invisibiliy sucking monkies and a few rituals that need to be cheaper, I don't really feel that much of a need to have an illusionist class specifically because all illusion really is is changing how your spell looks.

Take some wizard and warlock powers and declare that your Scorching Burst is really Phantom Swarm; where a swarm of illusory insects swarms over the targets, biting them mercilessly or that your Eyebite is really Obfuscating Veil, which raises a glammer that makes you invisible to the target while causing phantom pain.
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I have to admit, if all a person ever knew about 4th edition was based on the impressions found on these boards I very much doubt they would want to play it.

Correction: Based on this board, they would think RPGs are just an excuse for angry people to argue.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

I'm disappointed there wasn't any illusion powers too, but I understand that the PHB was under space constraints. They had to effectively combine the 3.5 PHB, tome of battle and the magic item section from the DMG all into the 4E PHB. Obviously, this means that not everything is going to make the cut. The sacrifice was part of the massive 3E spell section was given over to handle powers for other classes.

Complaining that 4E is missing illusionists or necromancers is like complaining that 3E was missing warblades and psions. I'm sure that in future books, they'll come out with an illusionist (probably the return of the PHB2 beguiler class).

I realize that most pro-3.5 people would prefer that the fighter, warlord and rogue sections of powers got completely removed in favor of their beloved wizard spells. But the idea of 4E is to give powers to everyone and to keep it balanced.

Granted I'd have much rather seen the illusionist than the warlock, but that doesn't mean 4E is a bad game, only that you can't do everything in 4E that you could with 3.5 + 8 years worth of supplements. But that really shouldn't have shocked anyone. The PHB can only hold so much information after all.
Careful. Appealing to reason around here can be dangerous.
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Karanth, what is awesome about said illusionists is that's the abilities they have. What makes you what you are is the powers / spells you have at your disposal. What makes you better at illusions you ask? The fact that you have them. Do you think the blaster's blaster is going to have them? No. But you do. Thus you're an illusionist.
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Granted I'd have much rather seen the illusionist than the warlock, but that doesn't mean 4E is a bad game, only that you can't do everything in 4E that you could with 3.5 + 8 years worth of supplements. But that really shouldn't have shocked anyone. The PHB can only hold so much information after all.

This is very true and expected. Unfortunately, it is equally true that the diminished number of options is affecting my group's enjoyment of 4e.
This is very true and expected. Unfortunately, it is equally true that the diminished number of options is affecting my group's enjoyment of 4e.

What do they want to play that doesn't seem to fit? I'm asking honestly; I'm perfectly willing to lend some creativity in order to help flesh out conversions.

A character class is a sterotype..archetypical even. There is no illusionist class...and the wizard "class" is what fail would look like if it were given written form.
And the statement "Its all still there" made me laugh so hard i think i dislocated a rib.

I'm pretty sure fail is what "fail" looks like given written form. The wizard, by contrast, is so far the only controller class in 4e. It does a good job of restricting and forcing movement, as well as AOE damage and a number of debuffs.

You're not really addressing the OP, though. What are your thoughts on roleplaying in 4e, or on the elevation of tactical options over narrative concerns?
I feel like this illusionist thing is getting out of hand and may in fact be off-topic if what we're supposed to be discussing is RPing with 4E. That may sound weird since it was brought up in the OP, but I feel like the two topics are completely unrelated and that the whole illusionist bit should be made a different topic (judging from the topic's title, that is...).

Now, I don't know how much this helps, but somebody posted this topic over in the Character Development board:
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1053434

The challenge proposed by the thread was basically:
Show interesting characters (at any level), based around a concept rather than a set of abilities, with Abilities that are effected by roleplaying choices. I really want to see as many as possible.

As anybody can see from the thread's numerous responses and the Topic Creator's eventual concession, 4E is just as open to RPing as any previous edition. 4E's only "problem" is that we only have the three core books right now, and so we can't play obscure class #76 from Series Book #5 out of 12...

As for the whole illusionist bit, DaidojiTaidoru pretty much covered it. The illusionist is still possible in 4E core, and even if it's not exactly what you want, I'm sure more will come out for it eventually. You can't blame WotC for not being able to put EVERY SINGLE THING that was in 3.5 into 4E right off the bat...

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
What do they want to play that doesn't seem to fit? I'm asking honestly; I'm perfectly willing to lend some creativity in order to help flesh out conversions.

It is not a matter of being able to craft a character in line with one's concept. Rather, when a character raises a level, they have a choice of one of 3-5 options, all of which are heavily geared toward the class's combat role. The only choices outside of this framework are feats, which have been significantly de-empowered.
It is still very possible to make flavourful characters in 4e. Roleplaying has never been dependent on mechanics. Our party has a spoiled princess who has no clue about the "real" world, but is a very intelligent scholar type (race class is human wizard) a warforged who has been working as a beat cop and has decided to adventure out of bordom and lack of anything better to do (warforged fighter) a paladin of bahumut who is the princess long suffering body guard and mentor, a gambler who doesnt even cary visible weapons (human rogue) a tiefling who is adventuring out of necessity who made a pact with fey beings to help her family and is trying to find her place in the world, but who is very uncertain of herself at times (my character tiefling fey pact lock). A mysterious elf whose backstory I dont know who is also a cleric of the raven queen, playing up the whole mysterious being. And a human ranger who spends most of his time drunk. In our sessions so far we have not had a problem with role playing. In fact page 42 has the guidlines for any crazy stunt you could possibly try.
It is still very possible to make flavourful characters in 4e. Roleplaying has never been dependent on mechanics.

QFE. Outside games with specific RP mechanics (CoH, Exalted, Unknown Armies, etc.), storytelling has always been decoupled from mechanics. The primary use for rules is for resolving conflicts. 4E has skill-based encounters for those which don't revolve around getting stabby-stabby.
QFE. Outside games with specific RP mechanics (CoH, Exalted, Unknown Armies, etc.), storytelling has always been decoupled from mechanics. The primary use for rules is for resolving conflicts. 4E has skill-based encounters for those which don't revolve around getting stabby-stabby.

though you can just resolve them with role play if thats what your group want to do, thats what mine tends to do
You people really know how to dodge questions.

The entire point of the argument here was that now that nearly all spells are mostly damage spells, the spells that were formerly used to ENHANCE* (note this word) roleplaying are either gone or different from what they were.

Nobody has addressed this directly yet. You're all picking apart tangentially related arguments that are vastly not the key point.

*Yes, we all know roleplaying is seperate from rules. We aren't idiots. But certain aspects of a system CAN make roleplaying easier or more central and others can do the opposite. There has never been an RPG made that completely made it impossible to actually play a role. But you're just plain lying if you say that all games are equally conducive to it.
You people really know how to dodge questions.

The entire point of the argument here was that now that nearly all spells are mostly damage spells, the spells that were formerly used to ENHANCE* (note this word) roleplaying are either gone or different from what they were.

Nobody has addressed this directly yet. You're all picking apart tangentially related arguments that are vastly not the key point.

*Yes, we all know roleplaying is seperate from rules. We aren't idiots. But certain aspects of a system CAN make roleplaying easier or more central and others can do the opposite. There has never been an RPG made that completely made it impossible to actually play a role. But you're just plain lying if you say that all games are equally conducive to it.

Non-damaging spells to enhance roleplaying were noted earlier.
In as ritual:
Magic Mouth
Silent Image
Minor Image
Major Image
Hallucinatory Terrain:
Illusory Wall:
Mirage Arcana:
Persistent Image:
Permanent Image:
Programmed Image
Shadow Walk
Project Image

Rituals are were you get your non-combat related roleplaying spell goodness. Spells used in combat need to actually do something that has some effect in combat (and illusions were largely useless against any number of foes. Most intelligent creatures are probably going to disbelieve a good number of illusions that you suddenly cast in the middle of combat. Short of the silly Shadow X spells (which happened to do damage and were largely useless outside of combat) most illusions that were useful in combat in 3.X did similar things to the illusions available in 4E except they didn't also do damage, and I'm not sure how adding damage to something somehow ruins it, especially when you can decide that the damage isn't lethal if your want.)