D&D 4th Edition: What I Expected vs What I Got

1128 posts / 0 new
Last post
The following is a rant. Undoubtably people are going to disagree with me. That's fine. I'm just writing it out of the frustrating of having played this game and getting the feeling that something was missing.

However I'm not trying to say "4e sux." Far from it. In many ways, 4e got a lot right. However, there are a number of ways in which it just failed to live up to the promise I felt it had.

Keep in mind, these are my own personal desires, based on the preview material and the preconceptions I had from 3.5. Not everyone will agree. Maybe I'm seeing it wrong. But the game plays like something is missing.

This, for me, is what could have been.

Ability Scores
Is it just me, or does every edition of D&D have even more stat creep than before? I think the big culprit here are powers which read things like "you may move a target a number of squares equal to your wisdom modifier" or even 3.5's "you may make a number of AoOs equal to your dex modifier."

The problem is that most of those powers are only useful if you've got a stat of at least 12, and in many cases more. There is an assumption that heroic characters have mostly positive modifiers, and maybe one negative modifier.

This assumption needs to die.

Would it really be that hard to rebalance the scores such that an 18 really meant something? Would it be so difficult to set up so that 3d6 down the line didn't result in characters that couldn't use half their powers due to non-existant secondary effects?

I actually got fooled into believing this would change. Some preview material for 4th edition showed a monster, and the level modifier was baked into the ability modifiers. Of course, no one knew that was the case, so the speculation was that positive bonuses started at 5 -- and a 10 would net you a +3.

This, for me, would have been a huge win. Now characters could have those important modifiers and still have scores in the normal range. Alas, it was not to be, and now I can't even make a character with two scores below ten without it being house ruled.

The next time an edition rolls around, how about putting the modifiers at +2 for 10, or whatever playtesting shows works. That way wearing heavy armour might hamper all sort of characters, not just the ones with superb dexterity.


Power Sources
Here's a thought. What would happen if you removed power sources from any gameplay mechanic? As best I can tell, the answer is nothing. Sure, martial power rarely has conjurations, and divine power is almost always linked to a god, but there's nothing -unique- about a power source.

In 3e, at least, the difference between a supernatural ability and an extraordinary one was important. Arcane and divine magic was more or less transparent, but martial power and magic was different.

I kind of expected this in 4e.

Imagine what could have been. What if the definition of Arcane power had consequences? What if arcane power sources could be affected by an anti-magic field? What if the magic wrought by words of power and deep knowledge was fundamentally different than magic granted by the Gods -- one vulnerable to counterspells and fields, the other with codes of conduct?

What if martial power never granted daily powers, but tended to have at-will powers of more potency? What if martial healing was -different- from divine healing -- triggering healing surges and granting temporary HP, but never restoring battle damage above what a character could normally take?

In short, what if being the wizard meant something other than being a controller (which means nothing now that PHB2 has introduced a few more controllers.)


Classes
This is almost the same as power sources -- everything seems the same.

In my mind, the fighter would have a slew of at-will powers, interchangeable based on his weapon. The encounter powers "that kind of trick would only work once" would be his flashy moves -- the kind saved for a finishing blow or a perfect opportunity. Tactical powers, usable only in certain situations like charging, flanking, or attacking a prone enemy would have been a natural fit.

Class features could have gone so far here. I mean, I really love the Fighter's class features. The ability to lock a target down? Great. There needs to be more of that. But, really, all those class features kick in at level one, and then there's almost no progression of features beyond that. That doesn't seem right. There should be more to a class than its power selection: class features seem interesting because they are special. Powers feel like an additional way to deal 3[w] damage once per day.

I really noticed this when I looked at the wizard. The spellbook class feature felt like a quick tack-on to give the wizard a little more versatility. In my mind, daily powers should have fallen under "class feature." Casting daily power is entirely boring when every class can do it. Warlock vs Wizard in 3.5 was a serious difference. Warlock vs Wizard in 4e is... not much of anything. A few hit points. A curse feature. Nevertheless, the fundamental mechanics don't support a real difference in feel. Everyone has the same power set. Everyone is special. And thus, no one is.


Multiclassing
I've only GMed at the heroic level, but I've already noticed something. Multiclassing is sub-optimal. Swapping one power for another -- and spending a feat to do so -- has yet to attract a single player.

Even presuming one takes two classes which work together well -- say a barbarian and a fighter -- the tradeoff between one power and another is entirely meh. Spending feats to gain additional powers would be a useful choice -- spending a feat to swap a whole slew of powers would be interesting -- but the current choice doesn't work.

The dual classing preview stuff I've seen has fixed this problem somewhat, but honestly, multi-classing feels like such an afterthought.


Trip, Grapple, Sunder, Disarm
When Wizards said they were going to try to fix the grapple rules, I was pleased. Unfortunately, much like multiclassing, I find that "fix" means remove.

From a game design perspective, removing Sunder and Disarm makes some degree of sense -- sundering someone's magic weapon just sucks, and disarming can be broken. However, removing the rules has not fixed my players, and inevitably someone asks "Well, can I just take the wand -away- from the necromancer?"

I don't know what the right solution to the sunder problem, but I'm fairly sure that setting the hardness and HP of items such that a +5 sword was harder to break than a mundane one -- combined with a ritual to easily repair sundered magical items -- would have fixed the problem much better than pretending it wasn't there.

Trip needs to be in the game. Considering getting up no longer provokes opportunity attacks, it could have been thrown into the game as a non-broken option. Instead, fighters get an occasional encounter power to knock a target prone. That's it?

Grapple, well, I like the grab rules, but grabbing someone in no way prevents them from attacking. Less is more, sure, but if I grab someone with a longsword and I'm using a dagger, shouldn't I be getting some kind of advantage? What if I want to prevent him from attacking? How do I pin?

The game is a game about imagination and creative ideas. Removing the rules about doing something doesn't mean my players won't still think about it.


Rituals
Someone needs to make everyone at WOTC convert every ritual into a dollar figure and then say "Would you cast this if you could do it?" I mean, 10 gp is nothing for a high level character, but in the game mechanic world, it's the cost of a cow

So when I see a ritual marked "Fastidiousness" and it costs 10 gp -- and keeps my clothing clean for exactly one day -- I cannot justify the cost. If the enchantment was permanent i might consider it -- but per day? I'm looking at those ten gold coins and seeing $1000 of value. As a result, an otherwise interesting ritual to create the extremely expensive pants that never get dirty gets overlooked for the far more useful prestidigitation.


Weapons
To some extent, weapons make a difference. For the most part though? No, they really don't. At first level, a fighter with a greatsword and a fighter with a great axe look more or less the same. This should not be!

Even basing powers on the option to cut, thrust, or crush would have meant something. Hammers are for knocking people back. Swords and axes are for cleaving. These kinds of choices would have made fighters interesting. They could have made -every- martial class interesting.

Sometimes the loss from 3e was just obvious. Longbows lack any kind of strength requirement -- meaning that the difference between a long bow and a short bow is minimal -- if you can use the longbow you take it and that's that. I would love it if having a high strength score actually mattered when you used longbows, but alas, this is not the case.

Also, the longbow range is weird. There really needs to be an extra rule for "longbow aimed accurately and in combat" and "longbow fired at maximum range to hit a house." Sooner or later, a player asks, and I am left having to make it up; something which happened a lot less in earlier editions.


Skills
Trained. Not trained. No in-between.

This just makes me sigh. They got some parts right -- the 1/2 level bonus applying to skills helps. Still, the idea of being "partially trained" in skills would be nice.

The lack of background skills is depressing. Sure, in PHB2 it's somewhat fixed with backgrounds -- but this could have been done better. Letting a character gain some training in backgrounds, professions, and languages outside of the usual progression could have gone a long way. It would only take a moment for a player to say "now that I picked out endurance, athletics, and history as skills for my military warlord, which background skills do i want? Profession: Soldier seems obvious..."


What it Got Right
Really, in the end, the problem with 4e is just a general impression that homogeneity is the name of the game. Classes don't feel special. Power sources don't feel special.

This hurts not because the game is bad, far from it. It hurts because the game is good in so many areas. The math is solid. Encounters balance well, the assumptions of how the game is played pan out nicely.


How to Fix?
Some parts of 4e, I've been able to fix pretty easily. I've got house rules for tripping and sundering, and I've redefined the world such that the average person has a 14 in a stat -- 18 is exceptional for an average person, but hardly the upper limit for anyone.

Some parts just can't be fixed, not without redefining the entire game. The idea of playing fighters without daily powers seems crazy. The careful balance of the game makes it near impossible to hack apart without far reaching consequences.

So what, am I just applying old expectations to a new game?
So what, am I just applying old expectations to a new game?

Yes. In fact, some of your "old expectations" aren't even from previous editions, though it seems like you think they are. Enjoy your game.
Tales from the Rusty Dragon (http://rustydragon.blogspot.com) - A 4th Edition Conversion Project Covering Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path
Yes.
You sound like yet another guy who favored or started with 3.x ed and don't like the changes (or should I say, corrections) made by 4e. It's not 3.75e, it's an entire new edition. It's more like 1st, or even 2nd ed, then 3rd ed. 3e D&D simply wasn't D&D in the classic sense. 4e is.
Ho boy...

Well, before the hornets arrive to see what's disturbing their nest - have you played 4e much? Without playing, the classes do seem very similar.

Also, on ability scores - they haven't really changed much from 3e. The only difference is that demihumans don't get boned with racial penalties, and every race has the *potential* to get a '20.'
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
I agree with pretty much everything in the OP although in some cases I understand why the designers chose to go the direction they did.

Stats are all assumed to be high because they had to build the math around some assumed value and if they had built the math around lower values then min/maxers would overpower the system.

Power Sources don't matter because, in general, it sucks to be punished for choosing a certain power source.

Multiclassing is underwhelming because of how overwhelming it was in 3.5. I think in this case they went a little overboard in the nerfing.

All the at-will combat options have been removed in favor of integrating them into class powers. The problem I have with this is that it removes the tactical though that used to go into combat. Sure now you have to worry about other things but it's not as necessary as it was previously. In 3.5 if you were up against a beast with lots of attacking limbs what did you do? You grappled it. When you encountered a melee facebeater? You disarmed him. In 4e all problems are solved with hitting things or in some cases arranging the party to make us more accurate at hitting things.

I also miss being able to dabble in skills. I like the idea of having a little experience in a field but not being as good as someone else in the party. Trained/Not Trained doesn't cut it for me.

Before someone asks, yes I have and do actively play 4e. That doesn't mean I have to like it.
I expected world peace as people would start gaming rather then doing anything else.

I didn't get it.
/sarcasm

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

I agree with pretty much everything in the OP.

Before someone asks, yes I have and do actively play 4e. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Enjoy your game.
Tales from the Rusty Dragon (http://rustydragon.blogspot.com) - A 4th Edition Conversion Project Covering Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path
I agree with pretty much everything in the OP.

Before someone asks, yes I have and do actively play 4e. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

That's nice, but will the OP respond to the thread and should we bother picking at the gaping holes in his (and subsequently your) arguements?

Place bets now!
Ability Scores

I don't feel as strongly as you here, but I do agree that keeping the stat inflation (even though it was less then 3.5s) was a mistake. I feel a good chunk of the issues that exist with the system come from that stat bump.


Power Sources

This I can't say I really care about. Well actually I do care about the removal of anti-magic fields and all that garbage. I'm very glad they did that. But the very limited flavor constraints to power sources (familiars are only arcane, only martial characters can mix two class diciplines at an Epic level) I can live with or without.

Classes

I still don't understand how the number and type of powers is more important then what the powers actually do. And the way people seem to ignore class features.... Seriously cantrips have become more powerful then ever before and people never mention the things. And claiming that a Fighters mark isn't the defining feature of the class (and every fight the Fighter takes part in) shows a clear lack of understanding of the combat system.

Multiclassing

The first multiclass feat is one of the best feats you can take. Everything past that is gravy. Me I'm enjoying my Clerics fighter multiclass very much thank you. But bad combos are far more obvious in the current system then they were in the old one. (See multiclassing with any full progression caster.) I consider this a feature.

Trip, Grapple, Sunder, Disarm

Have you tried page 42? Sunder and Disarm and Pin are win conditions for most fights, so they wouldn't work until you hit someone to 0 HP. But trips should be easily available using the rules in system. They just shouldn't be endlessly spamable like the stupid spiked chain monkeys of yore.

Rituals

Some rituals are too expensive. Most aren't.

Weapons

Uh, have you seen char-op? They seem to think weapon types matter.

Skills

Can't say I really have a need for some people to have a +3 instead of a plus 5 in a skill. Though the PHB II backgrounds were needed to fill a gap. I just don't see how this is a big deal.

So what, am I just applying old expectations to a new game?

That's a good chunk of your problem. A lot of things that seem "wrong" to older players comes from spending years thinking up justifications for why the old stuff was right. Now that the base assumptions have changed you have to let your old rationalizations go and start making new ones.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
Hi, I'm sorry to hear you're not having fun with the game. I wish I could commiserate but to be honest, I haven't experienced the issues you have with my play group. To me the classes all seem different and interesting in play. Also, nobody at my table sits around discussing proper ability point spreads. We just sit down and play.

Again, sorry to hear you're spending time not having fun.
So you want a +1 at 5 instead of +1 at 12?

...

...

I...I can't even find the words to express why that doesn't even begin to make sense! The only thing that would do is create a wilder variety between ability scores, letting optimizer pick a +8 to one stat and drop the rest to 0! Not only that but its really just a matter of perspective!

If I say 5 INT is the average and 10 INT means you're a genius, how is that different from saying that 10 INT is the average and 18 INT means your a genius?! You're just sliding the scale up and down!

Its like complaining that Yu-gi-oh! cards are stupid because they have stats powers like 1800/1500 or 2200/1900 compared to magic's 1/1, 2/2 and 3/2! Its a silly complaints that means nothing mechanically since everything uses the same scale.

Power Source do matter. They're an easy way to refer to characters under one head instead of having to separate them thematically beyond 'caster' and 'non-caster'. Feats and Paragon Paths, and even some items, have power source requirement.

Just because your players haven't found a useful use for power swapping doesn't mean it doesn't exist. My cleric swapped his encounter 3 power for a Paladin's encounter 3 because there was nothing useful on his list. I have a rogue multi into Feylock who took a power that lets him teleport and attack everyone around him. I call it his 'ninja vanish!' power.

Skill Training IS the in-between. You got non-trained with stats that don't align (Fighter and Arcana), non-trained with stats that align (Invoker and Arcana), trained with stats that don't align (Cleric with Arcana), trained with stats that align (Wizard and Arcana), and then there is, at the cost of a feat...SKILL FOCUS. In other words 'trained' means you can do stuff non-trained people can't do (i.e. detect magic) but you're not the best at it unless you focus.

Also your qualm about class features? That's what Utility Powers are for. Utility Powers are essentially class features you get to pick. That's why you don't get utilities at first level. You also got Paragon Path and Epic Destiny class features. There is barely any difference between a Power and a Class feature anyway expect a few interactions with items!

I'll let the other more eloquant poster explain why it would throw the game into chaos to go the way you mention... but one thing I want to point out:

What would be the point of changing editions if everything was more of the same?
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
As a nearly 20 year veteran of D&D on and off, I just recently tried getting back into it, with 4th edition. It felt like I was playing World of Warcraft, lol. And if I wanted that, I'd go get on the computer.

So back to 3.5 for me... But that doesn't mean I should come in and troll the forums. Its cool if you don't like X, Y, or Z edition, just don't play it. No different than not liking Forgotten Realms or Ebberon. If you don't like it, don't play it.

I just wish there was more support for previous editions. They spent years releasing thousands of dollars in 3E material, then dropped it like a bad habit... And it's likely going to turn into the red headed stepchild game edition at conventions and such...
Before someone asks, yes I have and do actively play 4e. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

You are right. It also means you can probably find more productive uses of your time than posting to a message baord dedicated to something you don't like.

Not that you don't have a right to do so, of course. I'm just pointing out that there are probably far better uses of your time.

Also, you should tell your friends that you don't like playing 4e and ask if they would mind, terribly, trying something else for a while. If they are dyed in the wool 3.5 haters, suggest a comepltely different system. Or perhaps any one of a number of well-designed, fun-to-play boardgames, like DESCENT or AGRICOLA...
I agree with much of what you said, especially the classes being not special, the lack of tripping being a problem and the need for a real difference between the powers ( I like your ideas with divine vs arcane vs martial.)

Other things I was expecting:

Digital D&D: What did I give up dungeon magazine for again? The digital version is garbage (yes I am a subscriber, for now). This could have been done better, I DM with two laptops and a projector. I was ready for digital D&D, I bought the books BECAUSE OF digital D&D. This new age of Digital D&D that WOTC was promising stinks. They dropped the ball on the gametable.

Races: I specifically remember them saying the races were supposed to feel different. I thought they were going with something cool like racial levels (from arcana evolved or unearthed arcana), turns out they didn't change much of anything with races.

OGL: - This is a big deal. Open source is the way of the future. Companies need to find ways to profit off of great ideas and allow people to build on them. It could be argued that 3e was too open, sites like d20srd.org proved that in spades. But on the other hand, 4e is FAR TOO CLOSED. How did they drop the ball by not bringing the great companies along for the ride? Paizo was there waterboy for years, how did they not bring this company into the team? All the great companies from 3e have moved to something else, paizo, malhavoc, necromancer. A smart transfer would have included these companies in one way or another.
You are right. It also means you can probably find more productive uses of your time than posting to a message baord dedicated to something you don't like.

Not that you don't have a right to do so, of course. I'm just pointing out that there are probably far better uses of your time.

Also, you should tell your friends that you don't like playing 4e and ask if they would mind, terribly, trying something else for a while. If they are dyed in the wool 3.5 haters, suggest a comepltely different system. Or perhaps any one of a number of well-designed, fun-to-play boardgames, like DESCENT or AGRICOLA...

The circle of people I game with are in the same boat as me. We don't really like 4e but we prefer to play what is being supported.
As a nearly 20 year veteran of D&D on and off, I just recently tried getting back into it, with 4th edition. It felt like I was playing World of Warcraft, lol. And if I wanted that, I'd go get on the computer.

Playing 4e is like repetitively pressing buttons and requesting heals from the n00b healer? Or were you more into PvP?
The circle of people I game with are in the same boat as me. We don't really like 4e but we prefer to play what is being supported.

Go try Pathfinder. I hear its all the rage amongst those who wanted more of the same (but better) from their 4e.
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
I just wish there was more support for previous editions. They spent years releasing thousands of dollars in 3E material, then dropped it like a bad habit... And it's likely going to turn into the red headed stepchild game edition at conventions and such...

I wish WotC still supported Dreamblade. Alas, when a business moves on from a product, it is rarely cost effective to continue supporting it.

However, in your case, you are in luck - there is still a TON of available support for 3.5. Paizo's Pathfinder is incredibly well done and you don't even have to switch to their "upgraded" 3.5e system to use it.

However, my guess is that you haven't truly given 4e a chance. I can tall from the WoW comment. Be honest - you looked at the rules, made a decision about how you felt it was going to feel/play, then MAYBE played a session or two and found your preconceived notions were spot-on (which is usually the case with preconceived notions, since people aren't to keen on admitting when they are wrong, even to themselves). See, 3.5e was exactly like WoW at this point in it's lifespan. My only real choices with my Fighter were Hack With Sword or Run Away. Sure, I could try some other things, like Grapple or Trip, but really, there was a menu of choices and I chose one. Ocassionaly, with the "right" DM, I could propose a wacky idea (like "Swing From The Chandelier In Order To Gain Some Small Benefit") and he would allow me to attempt to do so. This was the only real "creative" action choice in 3.5e and it is fully present in 4e. Now, if what you are bemoaning is the loss of 3.5e's very videogame RPG representation of skills and other roleplaying mechanics, then you've got me there - 4e dosn't have them.

But wait, doesn't that make 3.5e MORE like a video game and 4e LESS like a video game? That point it, videogame RPGs are like D&D. There is no chicken or the egg argument - D&D came first, videogame RPGs aped the basics. Any similarities are based on that.

Try the game again. Try to NOT think of it in "competition" with other editions of the game, but as a brand new game unto itself. If you still don't enjoy it, then it isn't the game for you. If you are unwilling to try to do that, this isn't the game for you. This also applies to the OP.

Wow, I really meant to not get into this whole explanation, but I am bored at work and just started typing.

Sorry about that.
However, my guess is that you haven't truly given 4e a chance. I can tall from the WoW comment. Be honest - you looked at the rules, made a decision about how you felt it was going to feel/play, then MAYBE played a session or two and found your preconceived notions were spot-on (which is usually the case with preconceived notions, since people aren't to keen on admitting when they are wrong, even to themselves).

Bolded and limed for truth. I'd say probably 80+% of the people who refuse to play (or refuse to enjoy) 4th Edition are encapsulated by the above.
Tales from the Rusty Dragon (http://rustydragon.blogspot.com) - A 4th Edition Conversion Project Covering Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path
The circle of people I game with are in the same boat as me. We don't really like 4e but we prefer to play what is being supported.

May I ask what more support you need for the game? The miniatures being released are still compatible as are the Dungeon Tiles. Paizo (which used to publish Dragon and Dungeon and created the original Adventure Path idea, so they're pretty "official", if that's your hang-up) still release adventures and other materials...

What more are you after? You couldn't possibly have exhausted all the possibilities of all the available splats/expansions/etc., can you?
I'm going to split my reply into two sections. The first will be a discussion of some of the misconceptions you are making. Then we'll chat about mundane and magical effects, power source favoritism, and the reasons for some of these mechanics.

Misconceptions
Attribute bonuses- when you see an attribute being used in a power, that means it's a secondary focus of that class. A rogue, for example, is based primarily around dexterity, so all his powers use it to determine his attack. Strength and charisma are his secondaries, and you usually choose one to focus on. As a result, these two stats are woven into his powers, rewarding a player for their use.

You don't see a rogue power that keys off of, say, wisdom, because wisdom isn't a secondary stat of the class. Nor do you have wizards with strength requirements, or paladins who care about intelligence.

Multiclassing- if you really want an even split, wait for the hybrid classing, currently slated for the PHB 3.

Weapon types- the differences between weapons really shines in feats, not in powers. The reason is to allow many different weapon using classes access to unique features of different weapon types. Hammers, for example, really shine with Hammer Rhythm. Axes become incredibly damaging with Deady Axe's high crit ability. Swords with Heavy Blade Opportunity are truly magnificent, and polearms combination of reach and Spear Push for great close range control.

Background skills- name every profession that an adventure could potentially have training in. When we consider a fantastic world, the sheer number of rules from everything from griffin taming to ritual aide to underwater basket weaving would take up way too much space for way too many specifics. Or, they could go with the 3rd edition route, incredibly boring and pointless craft skills which didn't actually tell you anything about what you were doing. Sure, it sounds great to have 7 ranks of Profession: tailor. Until you realize that without rules for tailoring, all that means is an arbitrary amount of gold you can make, very lame craft rules which keep you out of the game for months to create anything interesting, or a random set of numbers to create DC 5, DC 10, or DC 15 pants. Utterly pointless, unless we took an entire book to make them interesting. Which would be possible, but not a immediate priority for a fantastic adventure game.



And now, onto the meat.

Of power sources and possibilities, classes and characters, magic and mundane.



There's a damn good reason why martial has dailies, why rituals are expensive, why classes have a unified set of rules, why the power system is constructed in the way it is, why magic and martial all stand equally on the same field.


It's to keep everyone playing the same game together as a group.


In the name of making things "special", previous editions separated classes to such a degree that everyone was playing a different game. Between rules for daily powers or constant use, mechanical advantages to resting or continuous effects, focuses on pure combat, skills, or social situations, at the end of the day, every single class was trying to do something different. The wizard never wanted to continue wants he had blown his spells for the day. The crusader wanted to keep fighting all day long, because he was unstoppable. The warlock was okay with fighting all day until he ran out of hit points. The rogue wanted to run ahead of the group to scout out the enemy. The bard was bored, because there were no diplomacy encounters for him to destroy. And the fighter? Well, he was just sucking.

It's like playing a card game, except one person's playing bridge, another go fish, and the rest are trying different varieties of poker. They don't mesh. There's no party cohesion between mechanics, every single class required its own rulebook, and the DM couldn't balance his encounters worth a damn. One man's puzzle was another man's cakewalk, and certain spells could defeat a plot in an instant.

Now then.

Power sources? Power sources are just themes. Divine characters feel a bit alike with their Channel Divinity, arcane powers are more likely to be elemental and teleport all over the place, and martial abilities are more likely to involve skills, specific weapons, or sheer badassery.

But don't get caught up in them. The reason there's no separation of martial and, well, everything else, is that magic always beat mundane.

Power sources are there for themes, but you can flavor them however you want. Previously, however, mundane always got the shaft. Magic could beat mundane skill at every turn, every spell that accomplished something that could be done in a mundane fashion was better, faster, and cheaper, and without magic, parties couldn't do anything.

That's changed.

Rituals are bloody expensive because they are supposed to be. Ritual magic is supposed to be costly, rather than an infinite resource a wizard could pimp out to rule the world, wreck the economy, and utterly destroy anything in his path.

Classes have similar mechanics to keep them working together. Everyone is now concerned about resource management, rather than only one or two people in the party wanting to rest, or having that lone guy who's utterly powerless because he can, supposedly, go all day. Which was a myth, of course, given that he had limited hit points, and was reliant upon the healer to keep him alive.

Powers are special for reasons BEYOND their damage die. It's the aftereffects, the forced movement, the triggers and small text that really matter. Look beyond the 2[W], and see the power for what it really is.

Now, classes work together to conserve resources, making everyone more plug-and-play. If I switch out the warlord with a cleric, the entire party doesn't have to redefine our core mechanics to account for him. Streamlined rules make the game more reliable. As a DM, this is heavenly. It means my campaign doesn't get wrecked if someone rolls up a different class who's Super Ability X will demolish everything I've set up in an instant, and I can actually tailor encounters without wondering if I need to ban anyone.



I'll end by saying this; if you think the current edition isn't special, you aren't looking hard enough.

I have a divine spirit of the sword so focused on defeating a single target, she can charge straight through walls to get to him. I have a dryad who can turn into a tree in the middle of the battlefield; an angry, lashing, gnashing tree of overwhelming might and fury. I have a literal dragon, all built with core rules and PC stats, who flies about the battlefield reigning flaming death upon his foes. I have a necromantic summoner who can call his dead ancestors to his aide, and they protect their kin with howling ire. I have a cosmic force who chronicles the stories of the ages, but has been endowed with editorial power, literally rewriting the beings around her with a stroke of her pen. I have a lycanthrope chained to his own silver sword, the only thing that keeps him from going insane from the disease within. I have an ancient war machine, a forgotten fragment of old empires, within whom the fires of ancient battle magics still yearn for release. I have a Dread Pirate Kobold who's mastery of The Bad Juju allows him to decimate anyone he hates without even lifting a finger. I have a thousand characters from a thousand worlds, and they all can thrive in this edition.

Now, if I could actually find a group to play in, everything would work out.


If you can't find anything special in this new edition....the fault does not lie in the books, methinks.
Wait, I think I finally found the 4E=WoW link.

Neither uses a Vancian spell casting system. That must be it.
I have a divine spirit of the sword so focused on defeating a single target, she can charge straight through walls to get to him. I have a dryad who can turn into a tree in the middle of the battlefield; an angry, lashing, gnashing tree of overwhelming might and fury. I have a literal dragon, all built with core rules and PC stats, who flies about the battlefield reigning flaming death upon his foes. I have a necromantic summoner who can call his dead ancestors to his aide, and they protect their kin with howling ire. I have a cosmic force who chronicles the stories of the ages, but has been endowed with editorial power, literally rewriting the beings around her with a stroke of her pen. I have a lycanthrope chained to his own silver sword, the only thing that keeps him from going insane from the disease within. I have an ancient war machine, a forgotten fragment of old empires, within whom the fires of ancient battle magics still yearn for release. I have a Dread Pirate Kobold who's mastery of The Bad Juju allows him to decimate anyone he hates without even lifting a finger. I have a thousand characters from a thousand worlds, and they all can thrive in this edition.

Now, if I could actually find a group to play in, everything would work out.

If you are anywhere near Chicago, you can be in my group.
Nice work Dragoncat. I knew someone more eloquant than me would show up!
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
A number of posts have had to be deleted as they contained comments that were obviously baiting/trolling or in direct response to such posts. Please refrain from making any cheap personal attacks.
I'm suggesting he hasn't taken the time to look at it enough. Inexperience, not inability.

I've played second, third, fourth edition Dnd, I've bucked swashes in 7th Sea, I've fought with magic and might in Mage and Vampire, I've journeyed the cosmos in Traveler, blown @*#%@# up in d20 Modern and Spycraft, used the force in SAGA and the older d20 Star Wars, and delved the mysteries of elder gods in Cthulhu and, well, didn't live to tell the tale. Every system is different, every world changes the rules. Without actually getting to know the system, you'll never get anywhere.

Trying to play fourth edition like it was a different system is like, well, to use one of my less than stellar moments, throwing a shuriken in a game of Mage. All it will do is cause a lot of facepalming ("It's just like d20 modern," my friend said. "Just play like a game of dnd," he said. Not proud of that day, dammit.).

If I sound chastising, it's because I don't like it when people say "blah, this is wrong," without actually taking the time to think about it, determine if it really IS wrong, and giving it at least enough credit to mull it over. Argument from Tradition is a terrible thing, and way too many people think that just because something was a certain way, that that way will always be better.

The unexamined game is not worth playing. In all things, consider before judging. :D
Skill Training IS the in-between. You got non-trained with stats that don't align (Fighter and Arcana), non-trained with stats that align (Invoker and Arcana), trained with stats that don't align (Cleric with Arcana), trained with stats that align (Wizard and Arcana), and then there is, at the cost of a feat...SKILL FOCUS. In other words 'trained' means you can do stuff non-trained people can't do (i.e. detect magic) but you're not the best at it unless you focus.

Don't forget Jack of All Trades (+2 to all untrained sills). For 3.5 players that liked to spread their skill points thin, this should be the ideal feat.
Maybe people have taken the time to think about and mull it over... and still don't like it.
I guess there must be something wrong with them?

Nope.

But if they sit around and complain, rather than playing something that makes them happy, and let other people play whatever games make them happy.....that does not a wonderful life make. Constructive criticism can help, sure, but for that, you have to understand why the changes were made, not just what they are.



........As a total aside. HATER, ever since that one guy suggested hearing everything you say in the voice of the two heckling muppets, Statler and Waldorf, everything you've posted has become incredibly awesome.

Go forth and heckle, HATER. I loves ya! :D
Why did you expect 4e to be a version of 3.5 modified slightly to your tastes?
OP here,

To answer a few common general comments,

Yes, I am about a year late. And yes, I've actually played the game. Those two are related. I've been playing the game since it came out. Most of that time has been DMing. I have most of the supplements, and a DDI subscription.

I liked 3.5 quite a bit, but a few things about it felt mechanically clunky. My problem with 4e has nothing to do with the mechanics. Mechanically, it's very polished.

The complaints that I've had come from both me, and my fellow players. Some here, some there.

I get the idea that "it sucks to be punished for a certain power source" but there was something very flavourful about, say, magic not working in silence, let alone antimagic. Magic has become so reliable now that it seems less, well, magical.

I'm not saying that magic should be completely vance -- wizards being able to contribute a few spells to every fight is one of the best design decisions they made -- but daily martial powers just feel weird!

To reply to a specific complaint, the problem I have with the +1 being at 12 is this: take an ordinary power that says, say "you may slide the target a number of squares equal to your wisdom modifier."

The assumption is that in order for that power to be useful, you have a wisdom of at least 12. This means that in order to use the power, you had better be above average in wisdom. In short, your ordinary character with average scores often makes a very poor PC. I'm not against the idea that the PCs are a cut above the norm, but in most cases, a PC is at above average in -every- score.

Additionally, the comments about "page 42" being the catch all answer for things like tripping misses the point. An edition shouldn't go backwards in terms of what it supports.

I'm not saying I want 3.75. The mechanical assumptions behind 3.5 needed to change. Things like adding level to defense AND attack, or the way standard/move/minor actions work in combat -- those were all good changes. It feels like in order to gain some things though, we lost others.

In particular, the usage of homogeny for balance feels like a copout. Surely years of development could have done a better job than "everyone has the same power structure?"
Have you tried playing the game?

A lot of your issues are nonsense btw.

Did you read his post? Because he said:

"I've only GMed at the heroic level, but I've already noticed something."

And whatever you may see as "nonsense", may be real issues in other groups -- your opinion is not the universal truth, right? If this had been a typical "4E SUXXXX!"-type of post, I would understand your negative tone. However, I happen to think this post was very well thought and meant as *constructive* criticism and to raise discussion on subjects he feels should be "fixed", so he doesn't deserve this kind of replies.

If you don't have anything to add to the discussion, please refrain from posting. Thank you.
PCs aren't average at everything, unless they want to not excel at anything. Besides, they're HEROES, its part of the basic assumption of 4e that they are above average. Average folks don't put themselves in harms way like adventurers do, and if they do they don't survive long enough to gain a level.


Classes don't feel the same when you actual play them. As a DM all you see from the other side is the PCs bashing your monsters... its not the same thing as playing two different characters FROM THE SAME CLASS and realize they don't feel the same at all!

Basically PCs of different classes are as different from one another as two monsters of the same role and level are.
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
In particular, the usage of homogeny for balance feels like a copout. Surely years of development could have done a better job than "everyone has the same power structure?"

Not to detract from the rest of your post but this part is what I find interesting. In my humble opinion there are 2 camps of gamers/DMs:

Those that need Fluff

Those that don't.

The "homogeny" some see as a hindrance, is actually a feature to others. The basic stripped down rule and image says one thing but, that, like the Pirates Code is only guidelines really. You can make up as much fluff as you want as long as it fits the crunch.

That the Class Definitions. i think what it boils down to is that it hackles some peoples fur to be TOLD that their character is a Defender or a Striker.

They want to make what they want to make. Heck a lot of people don't like the roles at all. The thing is they were ALWAYS present. Now they have just been put down to paper.

I don't think it's homogeny. I think that each character if made right (that does not necessarily mean optimized or min/max) can shine just as bright as the next....just in a different hue.
I get the idea that "it sucks to be punished for a certain power source" but there was something very flavourful about, say, magic not working in silence, let alone antimagic. Magic has become so reliable now that it seems less, well, magical.

There's still quite a bit of flavor left (see familiars and other X power source only abilities). They just removed the "cheap turn your powers off BS" that only existed as a balance kludge. Since 2nd ED I saw so many damn antimagic fields in various places that came to hate the things. Especially since they screwed the noobs mostly. The fact that the power sources exist means you can via DM fiat alter those fields into existance. But I'm so very glad they didn't tell new players that garbage was in any way shape or form a good idea.

but daily martial powers just feel weird!

Why? What is so incredibly odd about a martial character only having the opportunity to pull off a very tricky maneuver once a day? Why is this more odd then a deity only answering a cleric in dire needs prayers once a day? This is pure legacy issue right here I'm afraid.

To reply to a specific complaint, the problem I have with the +1 being at 12 is this: take an ordinary power that says, say "you may slide the target a number of squares equal to your wisdom modifier."

The assumption is that in order for that power to be useful, you have a wisdom of at least 12. This means that in order to use the power, you had better be above average in wisdom. In short, your ordinary character with average scores often makes a very poor PC. I'm not against the idea that the PCs are a cut above the norm, but in most cases, a PC is at above average in -every- score.

This I sorta agree with. I'd prefer slightly lower scores across the board, but I have a feeling we've been voted down on this one....

Additionally, the comments about "page 42" being the catch all answer for things like tripping misses the point. An edition shouldn't go backwards in terms of what it supports.

It didn't. It went forwards. Sunder, and pin are fight winning techniques. Giving them away for free would be bringing back instant win moves. Disarm is similarly awesome (or worthless) though not quite as bad as sunder, and thus is very restricted. Trip is the only one that can be given out as a maneuver, and even then it should kinda suck compared to a basic attack and be somewhat infrequent. Page 42 covers that nicely.

In particular, the usage of homogeny for balance feels like a copout. Surely years of development could have done a better job than "everyone has the same power structure?"

Once again why does the number of powers matter more then what the powers and class features do? I think when you look hard at it, the only reason you care at all is because it's different from what you're used to.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
I think the problem is how concerns are voiced.

Any individual point in the OP's rant could be an interesting point of debate. We could talk about the cost effectiveness of rituals, for example, and it would be an interesting discussion about mundane skill, elitism within the magical community, and the cost effectiveness of accuracy versus price.

Or we could chat about expanding basic combat maneuvers, and we might add something flavorful to the game. A big block of problems, however, isn't very helpful as constructive material for debate. It would be like walking into a Cthulhu board and saying "You know, I think the frequent death, insanity, and madness isn't very good, and should be taken out of the game." Or saying that third edition was too fantastic, and wishing it was more down to earth and only mundane classes should matter. It's too broad a complaint to be worth much beyond saying "Well, that's not really the point."


Shift: just noticed the new post by the OP. Now we have something to delve into. :D

For attribute requirements within powers, I think it's important to note three things.

1) Your character advances two different attributes every time he gets +1 stat bonuses. So even if you have average stats, you can boost that secondary stat up a bit to make any relevant powers better.

2) Conversely, not every power per tier is going to have these sorts of subsections. There's usually a default option, sometimes two, for those who are just focused on primary, and haven't bothered with either of the secondary stats.

3) Unless I'm horribly mistaken, which I must admit has been known to happen, you won't find any of these stat bonuses that don't fall within the secondary stats of the class. Wizards don't have strength-requiring powers, paladins and intelligence just don't mix, and clerics don't need to be remotely agile. For each class, there are usually three stats to worry about and juggle points between. Most people focus on two, with a slight tip of the hat to the third, or ignore the third wheel completely. It helps round out a character, rewarding a fighter for reading his opponent's movements and good use of perception, without requiring that all fighter types be insightful.


The result, at least in this one's opinion, is a nice incentive to boost certain stats and be rewarded by the system, without terrible losses should the character choose a different path. Since that particular power isn't a necessity and it is balanced by others that rely on different stats or have other effects altogether, it forms a nice set of fair and diverse options.
1) Your character advances two different attributes every time he gets +1 stat bonuses. So even if you have average stats, you can boost that secondary stat up a bit to make any relevant powers better.

Does your actual mod go up by one? We have been playing that your mod stays the same and your mod + half level is for skills and such.

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

I get the idea that "it sucks to be punished for a certain power source" but there was something very flavourful about, say, magic not working in silence, let alone antimagic. Magic has become so reliable now that it seems less, well, magical.

In playing other games where there are all sorts of potential risks to using powers, this is incredibly hard to balance, moreso when you realize that the way a particular DM runs a game stylistically begins to greatly change how this works. Now, for stuff that's ancillary like skills and rituals, this might not be a huge deal. However, the biggest lessons of design that came out of 3E are that implicit balance points don't work - it's better for general use to make everything work about equally well most of the time than to try and rely on codes on honor or conduct keeping play patterns 'correct'. Example: leader design in 4E was done to keep the CoDzilla problems down by making sure party pumps are going to allies instead of the caster himself.

It's not like you can't just change the rules to work for you better in that regard. In fact, the tags 'arcane', 'divine', etc. are designed to perfectly fit with homebrew theme manipulation. Anti-magic zones? Arcane powers are either unusable or penalized somehow. God-sourced powers? Divine class powers can be suspended if you break tenets. It's more effective as a business to make a fair game that can be broken apart by groups to be more useful to them than the other way around.

...but daily martial powers just feel weird!

*shrug* There are three ways I can see viewing them to make it easier to understand:

  • It's a TV Show: First, just don't worry about. Focus more on how cool doing X is than why X is a daily power or whatever.
  • The Stars in Alignment: For powers that are tricky, it's feasible to view it less as the application of an arbitrary power and more as doing something where the setup is -just right-, and the huge effect happens.
  • Limited Reserves: Especially for stances and other persistent buff effects, there's a level of 'adrenaline rush logic' that can be applied here... sometimes you can only do something amazing because something kicks in, something that's not universally accessible, but a resource you can tap into when pushed to the limit. If we can assume that somehow, certain spells or prayers can only be accessed once a day due to this sort of logic, it's certainly applicable for exploits as well. Can you go into a battle trance whenever you want? or you have to get into a crisis for it to trigger?


To reply to a specific complaint, the problem I have with the +1 being at 12 is this: take an ordinary power that says, say "you may slide the target a number of squares equal to your wisdom modifier."

The assumption is that in order for that power to be useful, you have a wisdom of at least 12. This means that in order to use the power, you had better be above average in wisdom. In short, your ordinary character with average scores often makes a very poor PC. I'm not against the idea that the PCs are a cut above the norm, but in most cases, a PC is at above average in -every- score.

The original error of your assumption was that the bell curve of the 3d6 was their balance point. Instead, they used the 22 point spread as the rough equivalent of a 4d6-lowest curve. That said, in heroic, most good builds I've seen tend to have at least two stats that end up in the 8-11 range, which is pretty significant if you consider that adventurers are considered to be a cut above the norm. As for that stat modifier to effects, most I've seen are either the same as the attack stat, a class' secondary that is sometimes only given the bigger potential push of using that stat when you have the right feature, or are limiters to discourage mono-stat focus by making others more attractive to that class. Paladin's class features are probably the most hobbled by this, and I believe that's meant to be a feature in itself, making Str/Wis, Str/Cha, and Wis/Cha builds all feel fundamentally different.

In particular, the usage of homogeny for balance feels like a copout. Surely years of development could have done a better job than "everyone has the same power structure?"

Maybe. Play Rifts for a while, and then understand what happens when you go too far the other way. >_> I think there's a great elegance in how every class follows the same skeleton, and yet they manage to feel very different in play to me. There's a lot more involving the how of the system than the what that defines characters, classes, and power sources.
I’ve removed content from this thread because baiting/ off topic is a violation of the Code of Conduct. You can review the Code of Conduct here: http://forums.gleemax.com/community_coc.php

Please keep your posts polite, respectful, and on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks.
Method Actor 100% Storyteller 100% Butt Kicker 50% Tactician 50% Power Gamer 25% Specialist 25% Casual Gamer 25% The Code of Conduct is: http://wizards.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wizards.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1916 To contact Customer Service: http://wizards.custhelp.com
To reply to a specific complaint, the problem I have with the +1 being at 12 is this: take an ordinary power that says, say "you may slide the target a number of squares equal to your wisdom modifier."

The assumption is that in order for that power to be useful, you have a wisdom of at least 12. This means that in order to use the power, you had better be above average in wisdom. In short, your ordinary character with average scores often makes a very poor PC. I'm not against the idea that the PCs are a cut above the norm, but in most cases, a PC is at above average in -every- score.

This... well. The issue I have here is that characters with average scores have always made very poor PCs. A fighter without a Str high enough didn't get the bonus XP for having a good Prime Requisite, or his chance to hit and damage would be mediocre (depending on the edition). What has changed, though, is that all classes have multiple abilities that matter (at least 2) so the effects of mediocrity are more pronounced, as was the case in prior editions with classes such as the Paladin that required a lot of different stats (1e you couldn't even be a Paladin without 3 above-average stats, including a 17 Charisma (on 3d6!), and the only stat that could be lower than "average" was Dex).

You actually can get away with a character that has one exceptional stat (this has always been necessary) one above-average stat (this is sort of new for a lot of classes that used to use only one stat for anything worth doing) and the rest at 10. It's not a particularly versatile character, but it'll function.

That said, you'll also notice that 4e doesn't really talk about "the average man" as a benchmark for PCs. This is a construct aimed at centering the PCs in the story. There's not really that much reason, once the dice hit the mat, to compare the PCs to normal people when they are routinely compared to the challenges they face as adventurers/heroes.
Wait, I think I finally found the 4E=WoW link.

Neither uses a Vancian spell casting system. That must be it.

But, neither does Diablo, and we all know 3e=Diablo. Because all those 2e holdouts said it, and they were all right, just like people who say that 4e=WoW are right, right?

Though, that raises an interesting question: if 3e is the wildly popular videogame Diablo, and 4e is really just the wildly popular video game World of Warcraft, then maybe we could glean something from the comparison?

So, um, maybe it's that World of Warcraft has a robust dynamic balance that the designers studiously maintain, along with a strong reward cycle, and consequentially is not only the most popular online game in the world, but the most popular video game in the world, whereas Diablo's online experience was so prone to bugs and exploits that went unaccounted for that its players eventually just abandoned Battle.net entirely?

Wait, no, that can't be it.