4th ed Clinic Challenge: what you can do with 3.5 and you can't with 4th?

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DISCLAIMER: this isn't an edition war topic. In the spirit of the 4th edition clinic topic, this is a "challenge" topic where people who are sceptical or negative or worried about 4th edition being unable to recreated a certain 3.5 situation can come and see if it's actually true.

Notice that this is mostly aimed at undecided people with limited experience of 4th edition that may not the intricacies of the system. It's not a place to start endless back and forth arguments were the merits of a solution is discussed by two people who ain't gonna change their mind no matter what.
Much like the 4th edition clinic, this isn't a "4th edition is better" thread nor a "you should play 4th edition" one.

About entries:

To enter your "challenges", you have to follow 3 requirements:

1. state what situation / character / encounter / RP element etc you want to recreate
2. explain how you did so in 3.5
3. give a short explanation of why it should be desireable to recreate the situation


Spot three is for your own personal justifications. Try to be somewhat objective on this, we don't want the thread to be clugged by "I could materialize a whale 300 ft from the ground". Besides, every question about replicating a particular 3.5 spell can be answered with "DM + rituals", so it would be pointless.

I hope we can make this helpful and flame free. I repeat, it's dangerous territory, but it can be useful to disprove some scepticism of people who are afraid to pick up 4th edition because "it's a boardgame".


REMINDER: this topic is risking to derail into the umpteen edition war, and we don't want that.
I'll repeat:

This topic is about PRACTICAL situations you COULD recreate in 3.5 and you feel that you CAN'T in 4th edition. It's not about wanting to have skill points in 4th edition, it's about how you could recreate what your skill points reflected in 4th edition, and so on.

Remember that you NEED to post a DETAILED example of your 3.5 character/feat/thing, with specific RULES you want to recreate, before we can even start to help you.

Thanks.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
I'd like to find a sizable hillock, and over the course of a month turn it into a full blown castle. Since normal humanoids couldn't accomplish this task in the intervening time, magic would have to be utilized, or the assistance of monsters acquired.
Why: Being able to flex your muscles a bit. Show the surrounding countryside that if you want to, you could set down some roots and take over. Also, being able to "settle in" was a common theme of my 3.5 games. Since 4e generally = adventuring, I am somewhat skeptical that it could be done.

I haven't read ritual descriptions in detail. If there are rituals that can duplicate the effects of 3.5's wall of stone, move earth, stone shape, transmute rock to mud, and transmute mud to rock, they would help. As would spells that can create large numbers of servants to shape and construct the individual portions and interior (such as undead or unseen servants), or spells that can lighten the weights of the building supplies (floating disk or ???).
Thanks for the help with this. If it is possible, I'll suggest my group try it for our 4e game.
Actually, I can think of one, something that I think 4th could do even better, but hasn't gotten to yet.



She of the Siphoning Stripes. Otherwise known as Rogue. No, not that one, the X-Men one. We don't have a way to steal powers. Be it blue magic or spell thievery, there isn't really anything that uses monster powers against them.

In 3.5, this was done in later supplements by the Spellthief. Mechanically a fairly weak individual, it was nonetheless conceptually awesome, swiping spell-like abilities and resistances as it grew, taking spells and throwing them right back.


4th could do it even better.

Most likely not a class on its own, more likely a Spellscar or feat-based method of buying Blue Magic and Power Thievery abilities. Reflection, countermagic, redirection, mimicry, and absorption could all be made possible in the new system, and although balance would be difficult, methinks the results would be amazing.
I'd like to find a sizable hillock, and over the course of a month turn it into a full blown castle. Since normal humanoids couldn't accomplish this task in the intervening time, magic would have to be utilized, or the assistance of monsters acquired.
Why: Being able to flex your muscles a bit. Show the surrounding countryside that if you want to, you could set down some roots and take over. Also, being able to "settle in" was a common theme of my 3.5 games. Since 4e generally = adventuring, I am somewhat skeptical that it could be done.

I haven't read ritual descriptions in detail. If there are rituals that can duplicate the effects of 3.5's wall of stone, move earth, stone shape, transmute rock to mud, and transmute mud to rock, they would help. As would spells that can create large numbers of servants to shape and construct the individual portions and interior (such as undead or unseen servants), or spells that can lighten the weights of the building supplies (floating disk or ???).
Thanks for the help with this. If it is possible, I'll suggest my group try it for our 4e game.

Don't have any books on me at the moment so I can't check how doable this would be in the material plane but in the elemental chaos this can be done with a series of intelligence checks. You would have to work pretty hard to keep the buildings etc in the same state for a long period of time but i am pretty sure this is how the city of brass came about.
I preferred 3.5's approach to multi-classing, treating each level as a building block. You can still "multi-class" in v4, but it is more constrained - also less complex and better balanced of course, but hey, you can't have everything, right?!

I also preferred that monsters and NPCs used the same rules as the PCs for builds. It was fairer in my mind, and nicer to my simulationist tendencies. It also made it very easy to branch out with PCs using monster classes and templates. When RuneQuest came out, this approach to stats was one of the first things that attracted me to it over "Advanced D&D". Also I'm one of those people who likes to stat loads of characters in villages and towns - it feels "wrong" to me to stat them for use as either a PC or an encounter . . . even though that's how they can be used most efficiently in the game.

. . . my group have switched to v4, and I'm happy though, I'm not griping. The simplicity and speed of v4 makes up for a lot of this :D
How about a rogue that uses magic to enhance his physical prowess, stealth and defenses without requiring me to take a lot of flashy attack powers? The best I've been able to do so far is taking the Wizard MC feat and swapping for the Invisibility power. My main trouble is that Cantrips aren't available to a Multiclassed wizard and I can only get one of a handful of desirable utility spells.

In 3.5E, I did this by taking 3 Wizard levels and getting spells like Alter self, Invisibility, Shield and Feather Fall along with Cantrips.

I think this is a worthwhile recreation because "magically enhanced thief" is a character type that has been around for quite a while.
How about a rogue that uses magic to enhance his physical prowess, stealth and defenses without requiring me to take a lot of flashy attack powers? The best I've been able to do so far is taking the Wizard MC feat and swapping for the Invisibility power. My main trouble is that Cantrips aren't available to a Multiclassed wizard and I can only get one of a handful of desirable utility spells.

In 3.5E, I did this by taking 3 Wizard levels and getting spells like Alter self, Invisibility, Shield and Feather Fall along with Cantrips.

I think this is a worthwhile recreation because "magically enhanced thief" is a character type that has been around for quite a while.

There are several magical items that enhance stealth, and there are also a few that grants the player cantrips.

But typically a rogue does this by teaming up with other characters who have abilities he lacks, because D&D is a cooperative group-oriented game, not a solo or PvP game.
I wanted to inform people that I will answer these challenges during the evenings, as I don't have my books at work, of course.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
There are several magical items that enhance stealth, and there are also a few that grants the player cantrips.

But typically a rogue does this by teaming up with other characters who have abilities he lacks, because D&D is a cooperative group-oriented game, not a solo or PvP game.

The goal of this thread isn't questioning the motives of the requests, tho. There's nothing inherently bad in that request. The slightly-magical burglar is a very decent roleplay archetype, and I'll check if it's possible to recreate it in 4th edition (the preview answer is "yes", but I'll put it down in details later).
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
There are several magical items that enhance stealth, and there are also a few that grants the player cantrips.

But typically a rogue does this by teaming up with other characters who have abilities he lacks, because D&D is a cooperative group-oriented game, not a solo or PvP game.

To be fair, this is largely a power source issue, which is largely fluff. Which means you could actually use the stripped-down, single-class Rogue to accomplish this. It might not be as potent as a Rogue with access to Invisibility and whatnot, but since the mechanical basis Ex/Su/Sp distinction no longer exists, my Rogue is magical if I say he is, damn it.

At least, that's how I'd approach it.
Is there anyway to make lasting, culmative negative effects on PCs (like ability damage from 3.x)?

I saw that there were diseases. But are there ways where the PCs start out bad and slowly get better (similiar to ability damage)? It would be even better if they were minor (although noticable) effects which could stack. So it'd be annoying to get one, but after two or three, you'd really have problems.

I think this helps to portray the idea of being worn down by a long adventure without resting in safe areas (like towns).

Also, it'd be most desirable, if the negative effects affected certain attacks/skills, but not all. I think that would be great to try to make the PCs think/act differently than they normally do.
To be fair, this is largely a power source issue, which is largely fluff. Which means you could actually use the stripped-down, single-class Rogue to accomplish this. It might not be as potent as a Rogue with access to Invisibility and whatnot, but since the mechanical basis Ex/Su/Sp distinction no longer exists, my Rogue is magical if I say he is, damn it.

At least, that's how I'd approach it.

This is one of the answers I would give too.

Re-flavouring is an incredibly powerful tool - imagine all the "shift after X" moves as blink-like spells, or all the "monster hits his friend instead" as either jedi mind tricks or the rogue becoming invisible or gaseous mid-swipe.

The potential is enourmous, but the problem for most people will be that, much like most of 4th edition, it's absolutely staying on a RP level. So I'll try to find a more meaty answer for the request, something that gives the specific player the feeling his rogue is also "mechanically" more magical then most.


As a side note, it's amazing how many discussions I've had about the notion that 3rd edition is more Roleplay oriented because it gives you numerical and mechanical differences, while Roleplaying powers for the sake of roleplay apparently is "videogamish" ^^ .
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
To be fair, this is largely a power source issue, which is largely fluff. Which means you could actually use the stripped-down, single-class Rogue to accomplish this. It might not be as potent as a Rogue with access to Invisibility and whatnot, but since the mechanical basis Ex/Su/Sp distinction no longer exists, my Rogue is magical if I say he is, damn it.

At least, that's how I'd approach it.

Any character can be a 'thief' without needing to be a rogue; you just take an arcane power source class and give a background that adds stealth and or thievery to its class skills lists, or go the multiclass route. The gnome has a racial paragon path in the PHB2 (fey beguiler) that is geared for precisely this, it lets the character (of any class) poach skills and utility powers off either the rogue or wizard...
Is there anyway to make lasting, culmative negative effects on PCs (like ability damage from 3.x)?

I saw that there were diseases. But are there ways where the PCs start out bad and slowly get better (similiar to ability damage)? It would be even better if they were minor (although noticable) effects which could stack. So it'd be annoying to get one, but after two or three, you'd really have problems.

I think this helps to portray the idea of being worn down by a long adventure without resting in safe areas (like towns).

Also, it'd be most desirable, if the negative effects affected certain attacks/skills, but not all. I think that would be great to try to make the PCs think/act differently than they normally do.

I believe the standard route there is lost healing surges- when you take an Extended Rest, you do not regain all of them as normal. Is that sufficient?
Any character can be a 'thief' without needing to be a rogue; you just take an arcane power source class and give a background that adds stealth and or thievery to its class skills lists, or go the multiclass route. The gnome has a racial paragon path in the PHB2 (fey beguiler) that is geared for precisely this, it lets the character (of any class) poach skills and utility powers off either the rogue or wizard...

Enh, I'd say yes and no. Yes, it's possible to be a "thief" without being a Rogue. Heck, it's possible to be a "thief" without the Thievery skill, when it comes right down to it, what with muggers, imbezzlers, poachers, bootleggers and the like. However, the Rogue class does happen to have the right skills and ability synergy, as well as a slew of utility powers that augment the Rogue's sneakiness, athleticism, acrobaticness, bluffinghood or pilferingtude, so if the core of the concept is "Thief who uses [power source X] to augment his sneaky and stealing abilities", reskinning one power source as another does still stand out as the path of least resistance, though Visan is right that it won't satisfy everyone.
Is there anyway to make lasting, culmative negative effects on PCs (like ability damage from 3.x)?

I saw that there were diseases. But are there ways where the PCs start out bad and slowly get better (similiar to ability damage)? It would be even better if they were minor (although noticable) effects which could stack. So it'd be annoying to get one, but after two or three, you'd really have problems.

"Nagging Injury" -- make the rules like a disease, with the following effects:

WELL: Your injury is healed
IMPROVED: You have a -1 speed penalty
INITIAL: You have a -1 speed penalty and -1 to all actions
WORSE: You have a -2 speed penalty, -1 to all actions, and cannot perform criticals
MUCH WORSE: You are SLOWED, -2 to all actions, no crits
WALKING DEAD: SLOWED, DAZED, no crits.

It is a DC 5 endurance check to improve, +5 for each nagging injury you have received in the last 24 hours. If you receive a second nagging injury while under the effects of another, you automatically worsen one step.
Is there anyway to make lasting, culmative negative effects on PCs (like ability damage from 3.x)?

I saw that there were diseases. But are there ways where the PCs start out bad and slowly get better (similiar to ability damage)? It would be even better if they were minor (although noticable) effects which could stack. So it'd be annoying to get one, but after two or three, you'd really have problems.

I think this helps to portray the idea of being worn down by a long adventure without resting in safe areas (like towns).

Also, it'd be most desirable, if the negative effects affected certain attacks/skills, but not all. I think that would be great to try to make the PCs think/act differently than they normally do.

Effects that start terrible then get better are best handled by the Disease track. For the effect you're looking to create use (or make, as this is a space that hasn't been deeply explored yet in 4e) a disease that begins at its worst state then goes up from there.

As for getting players to think different, 4e encourages the use of incentives rather than denial. Creative uses of circumstance are rewarded with effects comparable to Encounter, or even Daily powers (depending on how easy they would be to reproduce). This the answer here is to encourage them to think different by, well, encouraging them to think different: tell them straight out that creative actions will be rewarded with superior effects.
I think its pretty obvious that there are some things you could do in 3E that you cant do in 4E. These arent things that most 4E players wish would come back though; things like :

*one class being able to do everything another class can do, but better, as well as a whole lot of things that class could never do.

*save-or-die spells.

*a 1st level wizard being killed by a house-cat.

*alignment related penalties.

*losing all your class features because you entered an anti-magic zone / had your weapon sundered or disarmed / lost initiative to a psion.

*being as many different classes as you have levels.
*alignment related penalties.

*losing all your class features because you entered an anti-magic zone / had your weapon sundered or disarmed / lost initiative to a psion.

You forgot that awesome combination of the two, i.e losing all your class features because you and the DM disagreed on how you should be roleplaying your character. But, no, seriously, we should probably stick to things that people would want to have in the game.
I'd like to find a sizable hillock, and over the course of a month turn it into a full blown castle. Since normal humanoids couldn't accomplish this task in the intervening time, magic would have to be utilized, or the assistance of monsters acquired.
Why: Being able to flex your muscles a bit. Show the surrounding countryside that if you want to, you could set down some roots and take over. Also, being able to "settle in" was a common theme of my 3.5 games. Since 4e generally = adventuring, I am somewhat skeptical that it could be done.

I haven't read ritual descriptions in detail. If there are rituals that can duplicate the effects of 3.5's wall of stone, move earth, stone shape, transmute rock to mud, and transmute mud to rock, they would help. As would spells that can create large numbers of servants to shape and construct the individual portions and interior (such as undead or unseen servants), or spells that can lighten the weights of the building supplies (floating disk or ???).
Thanks for the help with this. If it is possible, I'll suggest my group try it for our 4e game.

Ok, there isn't a ritual of shape stone or anything like that in the PHB1 which is all I have access to at this time. However the ritual Make Whole which is first level tells us that manipulating physical objects in such a manner would be possible with the correct ritual. If I had to come up with such a ritual it might look like this.

Bigby's Stone Fortress

Level: 10
Catagory: Creation
Time: Special
Duration : Permant
Component Cost : 1000 gold
Market Price: 5000 gold
Key Skill: Arcana

The ritual alters the terrain into a castle or fortress structure. You drawn a circle around the terrain you wish to alter using crushed gems equal to 1000 gold peices. You then place a scale model of the structure you wish to form in the center of the circle. You then focus on a scale model for a full day and night while reciting the ritual. Once the ritual is complete the scale model melts into slag. Then the terrain inside the circle begins to alter its shape it takes a minimum of one day to shape 1000 square feet of land, so a castle of 25,000 sqr feet would require 25 days to form. During the formation time the caster of the ritual cannot cast another ritual, doing so ends the ritual and the caster will have to begin again. If the ritual is broken within 5 days of the casting no material componets are consumed. If after all material componants are consumed.

Just an intial thought.
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Effects that start terrible then get better are best handled by the Disease track. For the effect you're looking to create use (or make, as this is a space that hasn't been deeply explored yet in 4e) a disease that begins at its worst state then goes up from there.

Yeah, the more I think about it the more this could work well. Its pretty easy to send the PCs through a filthy or disease ridden area. I wasn't aware that there are disease that start off in the worst state, but I haven't scoured the books for them yet. What are some good diseases for early levels (3ish)?

As for getting players to think different, 4e encourages the use of incentives rather than denial. Creative uses of circumstance are rewarded with effects comparable to Encounter, or even Daily powers (depending on how easy they would be to reproduce). This the answer here is to encourage them to think different by, well, encouraging them to think different: tell them straight out that creative actions will be rewarded with superior effects.

I probably don't mean think differently as much as use different aspects of their characters. My group tends to specialize on one or two aspects and continually uses it (which is fine since that's part of the game, but its good to switch things up).

In 3.x, there were times where say the Fighter's strength was heavily damaged so he had to use a bow. Obviously, he wasn't great with the bow, just decent. But when the Fighter's strength recovered, he felt as if he gained levels and talked about his "new" power. Also, the next time he was in town, a bought a slightly better bow.
As a 4e fan, and player, this is not meant to stir any pots.

I love the 4e Wizard, and feel I can do a lot with it at any point, making it easier to RP the character I envisioned early on.

That said, the iconic wizard, powerful, mysterious, and capable of reigning terror on their foes, is something I sorely miss. As much as I like the FRCG, I look at the few high level hold overs, and I simply shake my head. Beings of such magical might, that their mere name struck fear in the hearts of their enemies, now must lose nights of sleep to tears of ability lost. There is nothing to fear of a high level caster any more. Their superiority at high levels is now a thing of fire side legend. Rather than living a well deserved life of control, they now must live in fear of all other classes.

When push comes to shove, an iconic class, that once had little to fear so long as their spells were ready, and they had the element of surprise, now couldn't solo another class of their level if they wanted too. The game may be balanced now, and for that many people are happy. But sometimes, I wonder at what cost.

-RW

P.S. I know the DM can rule any number of powers onto the Big Bad, but that is a houserule, not a core rule.
I'd like to find a sizable hillock, and over the course of a month turn it into a full blown castle. Since normal humanoids couldn't accomplish this task in the intervening time, magic would have to be utilized, or the assistance of monsters acquired.
Why: Being able to flex your muscles a bit. Show the surrounding countryside that if you want to, you could set down some roots and take over. Also, being able to "settle in" was a common theme of my 3.5 games. Since 4e generally = adventuring, I am somewhat skeptical that it could be done.

I haven't read ritual descriptions in detail. If there are rituals that can duplicate the effects of 3.5's wall of stone, move earth, stone shape, transmute rock to mud, and transmute mud to rock, they would help. As would spells that can create large numbers of servants to shape and construct the individual portions and interior (such as undead or unseen servants), or spells that can lighten the weights of the building supplies (floating disk or ???).
Thanks for the help with this. If it is possible, I'll suggest my group try it for our 4e game.

List of rituals that could be useful from a cursory look through the compendium:

Earthen Ramparts(Dragon 366)- can be used to make walls/ramps of earth
Clear the Path(Forgotten Realms Player's Guide)- clear away the place you are building and clean up after any mishaps
Excavation(Dragon 366)- for making a cellar or dungeon
Unseen Servant(Arcane Power)- moving building materials around
Tenser's Floating Disk(Player's Handbook)- moving materials around
Ironwood(PHB2)- improve the quality of your building materials
Tenser's Lift(Dragon 366)- move builduing materials between floors

This might not cover everything you wpuld need, but I think it would be a good start. I should also note that building something using the above would likely be very expensive.

Yeah, the more I think about it the more this could work well. Its pretty easy to send the PCs through a filthy or disease ridden area. I wasn't aware that there are disease that start off in the worst state, but I haven't scoured the books for them yet. What are some good diseases for early levels (3ish)?

I think the suggestion was more of just make a disease that starts in the worst state and use the disease tracker mechanic for it.
It is certainly easy enough to attach any kind of penalties to characters. A monster, trap, ritual, terrain, etc could in theory give a PC some sort of penalty and it could last as long as you want or have whatever condition to remove that you care to put on it.

I think using the disease track mechanism makes sense though. This could be used for all sorts of things like curses, poisons, etc. where appropriate.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
As a 4e fan, and player, this is not meant to stir any pots.

I love the 4e Wizard, and feel I can do a lot with it at any point, making it easier to RP the character I envisioned early on.

That said, the iconic wizard, powerful, mysterious, and capable of reigning terror on their foes, is something I sorely miss. As much as I like the FRCG, I look at the few high level hold overs, and I simply shake my head. Beings of such magical might, that their mere name struck fear in the hearts of their enemies, now must lose nights of sleep to tears of ability lost. There is nothing to fear of a high level caster any more. Their superiority at high levels is now a thing of fire side legend. Rather than living a well deserved life of control, they now must live in fear of all other classes.

When push comes to shove, an iconic class, that once had little to fear so long as their spells were ready, and they had the element of surprise, now couldn't solo another class of their level if they wanted too. The game may be balanced now, and for that many people are happy. But sometimes, I wonder at what cost.

-RW

P.S. I know the DM can rule any number of powers onto the Big Bad, but that is a houserule, not a core rule.

I don't know why you say a wizard "couldn't solo another class of their level". Of course they could. An X level wizard should beat an X level fighter, etc basically 50% of the time. Chances are it will come down to who gets the initiative. There are still builds of wizard (orbizard anyone) that will win almost hands down against most other characters in a one-on-one.

In any case if you need an NPC/BBEG/whatever that is really powerful and scary, just make it high level. There is practically zero chance of beating an opponent that is 8+ levels higher than you. Throw a 6th level party against a liche. They're dead. It isn't even a contest. If that isn't a mighty spell caster, what is?

And 4e just doesn't try to work out some rules system that will detail every non-combat aspect of monsters or NPCs. If that seems to be what is lacking, then just give your NPC rituals, etc. They would certainly have them. They just don't make much difference in combat. For that matter the bad guy can have extra powers so he can have a few utility spells that maybe ARE good in combat. I don't think creatures straight out of the 3.x monster manuals were that much more detailed than 4e monsters are. You had to do all sorts of attaching levels to them etc.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Hmm. Surprised that no ones mentioned this obvious one yet:

Advance past the "final" level listed in the PHB - without making up your own rules for it.

That last part is the key. Because in all previous editions you could simply extrapolate the xps needed, spells/feats gained, # of attacks, etc etc etc. from the info you allready had. And because of this there are some very long running games out there with characters with levels far beyond what even "epic" covered.

In 4e? Not possible. Once your at 30th lv you've got but 3 options:
1) Quit the characters & start over at some lower lv.
2) Wait patiantly for WoTC to produce some new book to cover your needs.
3) Make stuff up yourself.

The problem is the at-will/encounter/daily/utility powers.
See, I don't care who you are, how smart you might be, or how often you post, the simple answer is that none of you can answer the question of "What are the powers gained at lv xxx(where x = 31+).
You might be able to tell me the # of powers & when I'd gain them, but you can't give me the details of what they do....

Keep advancing infinitly (without resorting to house rules or maybe 3rd party material): That's something I can do in every other edition that can't be replicated in 4e.
As a 4e fan, and player, this is not meant to stir any pots.

I love the 4e Wizard, and feel I can do a lot with it at any point, making it easier to RP the character I envisioned early on.

That said, the iconic wizard, powerful, mysterious, and capable of reigning terror on their foes, is something I sorely miss. As much as I like the FRCG, I look at the few high level hold overs, and I simply shake my head. Beings of such magical might, that their mere name struck fear in the hearts of their enemies, now must lose nights of sleep to tears of ability lost. There is nothing to fear of a high level caster any more. Their superiority at high levels is now a thing of fire side legend. Rather than living a well deserved life of control, they now must live in fear of all other classes.

When push comes to shove, an iconic class, that once had little to fear so long as their spells were ready, and they had the element of surprise, now couldn't solo another class of their level if they wanted too. The game may be balanced now, and for that many people are happy. But sometimes, I wonder at what cost.

-RW

P.S. I know the DM can rule any number of powers onto the Big Bad, but that is a houserule, not a core rule.

I can sympathize with your feeling, but I think you need to understand that the "cost" was very low.

The problem here is trifold: players, setting coherency, and the Powers.

1. Players: nothing can justify a "I play a wizard I'm supposed to be stronger uuuurrrrr" urge. Players are created equal; characters are created equal. Preserving the sense of wonder that a Wizard has over a Barbarian is the work of the GM and the players. While the Wizard isn't more combat performing than the Barbarian, and he isn't granted victory in personal combat (yet, he has an edge, as the controller role is quite overpowered when it comes to "pvp"), their impact on society is quite different.

When the high level wizard and the high level barbarian come to town, people knows that the barbarian is a monster with that 2h axe. He can probably slay them all, chopping head after head.
However, the wizard can exterminate the entire tavern in a second. He can turn the streets to ice. He can wither flesh, rain fire from the skies and so on and so forth. When you have 10 hp, you don't really care about who does the most DPR - but the guy who can bend reality and shoot balls of fire from his nose is scarier than the guy with the axe.

2. Setting coherency: this is the DM's work. Casters probably dominate society - think about it, rituals. Economy, religion, knowledge - casters aren't diminished in their social role of seers, wisemen, leaders or tirants. A Barbarian can be a monster, but the Wizard can make winter come 3 months sooner.
If you feel casters should be on average more powerful, well, you decide the level of your NPCs. If you look at the second published adventure module (Thunderspire Labyrinth), it does a good job at portaying wizards as "the big cheese". You're strolling in an environment made of lvl 3-6 creatures and then there's this council of wizards that start at level 10 and end at "we don't stat this cause it's pointless".

3. The Powers: 4th edition is exception based. If you want to recreate Elminster or Raistlin, and you feel they need to be powerful, just make them so. There's no real rule in designing NPC - you don't make Elminster a lvl 25 wizard, he's a lvl 25 Elminster and yes, he will probably have much in common with a wizard, but his fireball will hit far harder and will recharge on a 3 or more, he will have Wish or whatnot, and whatever you want your Elminster to have.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
I think the suggestion was more of just make a disease that starts in the worst state and use the disease tracker mechanic for it.

Oh, okay. That makes sense.
Keep advancing infinitly (without resorting to house rules or maybe 3rd party material): That's something I can do in every other edition that can't be replicated in 4e.

I agree it's something I could not do in v4.

Personally, it's not my thing. I've *never* played or DMed above level 15 in any D&D, and I've played for over 28 years.

From what I've seen in DnD 4, even at high levels the characters aren't the demi-gods that they turn into in v3.5 though, so strangely enough in v4, it might be the first D&D system where I consider playing to the top levels :-)
As a 4e fan, and player, this is not meant to stir any pots.

I love the 4e Wizard, and feel I can do a lot with it at any point, making it easier to RP the character I envisioned early on.

That said, the iconic wizard, powerful, mysterious, and capable of reigning terror on their foes, is something I sorely miss. As much as I like the FRCG, I look at the few high level hold overs, and I simply shake my head. Beings of such magical might, that their mere name struck fear in the hearts of their enemies, now must lose nights of sleep to tears of ability lost. There is nothing to fear of a high level caster any more. Their superiority at high levels is now a thing of fire side legend. Rather than living a well deserved life of control, they now must live in fear of all other classes.

When push comes to shove, an iconic class, that once had little to fear so long as their spells were ready, and they had the element of surprise, now couldn't solo another class of their level if they wanted too. The game may be balanced now, and for that many people are happy. But sometimes, I wonder at what cost.

To be fair, the trade-off there is that now character level actually represents something more akin to relative power-level. I, at least, am willing to accept that. Particularly since the non-D&D-legacy wizard was not universally the creature of awesome, god-like power that can easily best mere mortals; a much more common fantasy trope is the mundane or "idiot" hero who, through a mix of pluck, wits, determination and destiny, defeats the evil sorcerer. Moreover, non-D&D-legacy wizards are much more likely to be playing the role of sage mentor or shrewd manipulator in a story than they are to be blowing stuff up. Merlin and Midea may be mysterious figures, but they don't exactly overshadow Arthur or Jason. And it kind seems like it ought to be at least possible for Conan to stand a chance against Thulsa Doom, no? It feels more organic if Conan's journeys simply represent his closing an initial gap in levels between he and Thulsa Doom, rather than Doom's defeat simply being a product of him having gotten the Idiot Ball. Don't you agree?


P.S. I know the DM can rule any number of powers onto the Big Bad, but that is a houserule, not a core rule.

Question: was it a house rule before, when you advanced a monster by giving it class levels? If your answer is no, as that was completely-as-per-the-rules customization, then what, exactly, has changed?

Sorry, but this is a not-so-minor pet peeve of mine: not all customization is a "house rule", but it's a term that people like to throw around with abandon. Homebrewed classes and powers are not houserules: the rules offer a supportive framework for them. Reflavoring is not a houserule, the game expressly permits, even encourages molding flavor to fit the occasion. Improvized actions, per page 42, is not a houserule, but, once again, part of the core rules. Customizing NPCs and monsters as per the presented guidelines for doing so is absolutely not a house rule, it's part and parcel of the core rules.
Hmm. Surprised that no ones mentioned this obvious one yet:

Advance past the "final" level listed in the PHB - without making up your own rules for it.

That last part is the key. Because in all previous editions you could simply extrapolate the xps needed, spells/feats gained, # of attacks, etc etc etc. from the info you allready had. And because of this there are some very long running games out there with characters with levels far beyond what even "epic" covered.

In 4e? Not possible. Once your at 30th lv you've got but 3 options:
1) Quit the characters & start over at some lower lv.
2) Wait patiantly for WoTC to produce some new book to cover your needs.
3) Make stuff up yourself.

The problem is the at-will/encounter/daily/utility powers.
See, I don't care who you are, how smart you might be, or how often you post, the simple answer is that none of you can answer the question of "What are the powers gained at lv xxx(where x = 31+).
You might be able to tell me the # of powers & when I'd gain them, but you can't give me the details of what they do....

Keep advancing infinitly (without resorting to house rules or maybe 3rd party material): That's something I can do in every other edition that can't be replicated in 4e.

It's actually not possible at the moment. I mean, you can keep playing, but you can't keep advancing.

However, a couple notations.

Advancing past level 20 in 3rd edition didn't make much of a difference. Attack bonuses and saves did raise, but the game was mostly about save or suck and 10 more level in the epic field mattered far less than talents, magic items or whatnot. A geared level 30 character would destroy a less geared level 40 character easily.
The way bonuses and epic feats affected your characters was lackluster - there wasn't any real impact. The good thing was keeping to stack PrCs, but that was hardly a matter of delicate mechanics.

Also, at level 24 of 4th edition you feel a lot more "epic" than you did at level 40 in 3rd edition, and I speak with the experience of a much loved lvl 40+ game where characters were starting to stack divine ranks.
Epic spellcasting made save or suck look obsolete. If the game was broken at level 15, it was downright silly in epic levels. Monsters had 800 hp, and players had the potential to do upwards of 400 damage with a single full attack - and I'm speaking fighters, here.
There's potentially abusive 4th edition builds too, but we're speaking of builds with a DPR of 60 to 180 damages depending on the level of optimization. Solos are still a challenge, and combat can be exciting at that level too.
A level 30 barbarian feels like the epic evolution of a level 4 one. He gets cooler powers, he does more damage (but not 10 times as much damage), he's much more powerful but in "epic" terms.

In 3rd edition the game was "who saves or suck first". If you didn't get there, the Wizard was throwing 3 maximized 180 damage heightened spells before the fighter moved in and unleashed 9 melee attacks, a whirlwind, all with +40 damage from power attack and what not. A level 40 character was easily doing hundreds of times as much damage as a level 4 one (and there's people who say 4th edition is over the top).

No need to get to gods or archdevils now. In 4th edition, a god is nigh invicible but a level 30 party has a shot against it. Orcus is a good challenge.
In 3rd edition Archdevils died in a full attack. Gods were throwing DC 90 save or sucks at you as soon as you got within 15 miles of them.


Yes, 3rd edition had post 30 progression. I used it extensively, and it was a trainwreck.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
Hmm. Surprised that no ones mentioned this obvious one yet:

Advance past the "final" level listed in the PHB - without making up your own rules for it.

That last part is the key. Because in all previous editions you could simply extrapolate the xps needed, spells/feats gained, # of attacks, etc etc etc. from the info you allready had. And because of this there are some very long running games out there with characters with levels far beyond what even "epic" covered.

In 4e? Not possible. Once your at 30th lv you've got but 3 options:
1) Quit the characters & start over at some lower lv.
2) Wait patiantly for WoTC to produce some new book to cover your needs.
3) Make stuff up yourself.

The problem is the at-will/encounter/daily/utility powers.
See, I don't care who you are, how smart you might be, or how often you post, the simple answer is that none of you can answer the question of "What are the powers gained at lv xxx(where x = 31+).
You might be able to tell me the # of powers & when I'd gain them, but you can't give me the details of what they do....

Keep advancing infinitly (without resorting to house rules or maybe 3rd party material): That's something I can do in every other edition that can't be replicated in 4e.

*shrug* mostly irrelevant. In earlier editions, the PHB only came with 20 levels, so yeah actually the 4E PHB already encompasses 'epic level play' by scaling up to 30.

In earlier editions, epic level play was not really fleshed out, there were just flimsy guidelines that hardly anyone ever used.

I call it 'progress'.

Its an argument thats probably pointless to make though, since the very premise is a moving goalpost... I can do the same thing by saying that players from the 3E PHB cant fight and defeat gods, the way 4E characters can.
*one class being able to do everything another class can do, but better, as well as a whole lot of things that class could never do.

*save-or-die spells.

*being as many different classes as you have levels.

While I think all points other than alignment penalties can be argued, ...

Oribizard is effectively save-or-die. But really 3.x wizards broke the game by breaking the "economy of actions," and the best builds really just read "die:" e.g. 'The Word' and builds requiring n^^n notation to express damage. 4e's equivalent of breaking the "economy of actions" is action deprivation and optimizing attacks each turn while tacking on as many static bonuses.

I suppose the above demonstrates one thing 4e, by its current nature and direction, won't emulate as well as 3.5: optimization of as many methods of attack. 3.x had Holy Word CL ++, 8 gajillion damage rock drops, Stunlocking, Lockesque caster-deprivation Fighter control builds, Dire Turtles, Prismatic Sphere + Reverse Gravity under Time Stop lock, attacking stats (CON) to bypass massive HP, ... -- basically as many kill paths as viable spells and feats.

4e, by its general avoidance of "Save or Die"s leaves only the paths of Action Deprivation or DPR Optimization. This may change with time, and isn't necessarily a bad thing. It makes the game easier to approach casually, but offers less mechanical benefit to poring over rulebooks for system mastery.

To answer the other two points, 4e interestingly allows you to have MORE classes than you have levels at many levels -- until you run out of classes (currently less than 20 full classes):

1: Human Bard feats: A + B 3 Classes
2: feat: C 4 Classes
3: 4 Classes
4: feat D 5 Classes
.
.
8: only 7 Classes only to catch up at epic

And such builds could be built to decently step on the toes of classes in all roles: a Bard | Fighter -- Rain of Blowing (Striker), Combat Challenging (Defender) + AoE attacking (Controller), Bard (is a Leader) -- all while playing the tambourine better than lesser classes could even dream of. Given this build is optimized and isn't taking all MC feats -- only thing 3.x 1/1/1/1/1... builds got you was MASSIVE Fort/Ref/Will and dismal BAB.
To be fair, this is largely a power source issue, which is largely fluff. Which means you could actually use the stripped-down, single-class Rogue to accomplish this. It might not be as potent as a Rogue with access to Invisibility and whatnot, but since the mechanical basis Ex/Su/Sp distinction no longer exists, my Rogue is magical if I say he is, damn it.

At least, that's how I'd approach it.

Yeah that's the way that's seemed most agreeable to me as well. I just wanted to see if I could get some differing opinions/ideas.
Yeah that's the way that's seemed most agreeable to me as well. I just wanted to see if I could get some differing opinions/ideas.

You could try a hybrid rogue/wizard. The only problem there would be that half your attack abilities would be wizards spells then. If you are careful with your selections though you might be able to just refluff them as being rogue skills enhanced by magic.
To be fair, the trade-off there is that now character level actually represents something more akin to relative power-level. I, at least, am willing to accept that. Particularly since the non-D&D-legacy wizard was not universally the creature of awesome, god-like power that can easily best mere mortals; a much more common fantasy trope is the mundane or "idiot" hero who, through a mix of pluck, wits, determination and destiny, defeats the evil sorcerer. Moreover, non-D&D-legacy wizards are much more likely to be playing the role of sage mentor or shrewd manipulator in a story than they are to be blowing stuff up. Merlin and Midea may be mysterious figures, but they don't exactly overshadow Arthur or Jason. And it kind seems like it ought to be at least possible for Conan to stand a chance against Thulsa Doom, no? It feels more organic if Conan's journeys simply represent his closing an initial gap in levels between he and Thulsa Doom, rather than Doom's defeat simply being a product of him having gotten the Idiot Ball. Don't you agree?

I agree in parts, and this isn't a major point for me, so I'll not lose sleep when we disagree. I'm not contesting any of your non DnD examples (Though in modern fantasy, I tend to see wizards with god like powers in far greater numbers), I'm simply pointing out a drastic change for the Wizards of the DnD genre. Wizards in certain areas took a great hit between 2e, and 3.x, but not so great as the loss between 3.x and 4. They couldn't contend with their past selves, and hold overs must be greatly ashamed of what they have become.

This doesn't make your game, or my own any less fun, and I can as DM compensate where needed, I just find that iconic images loss saddening.

Question: was it a house rule before, when you advanced a monster by giving it class levels? If your answer is no, as that was completely-as-per-the-rules customization, then what, exactly, has changed?

Sorry, but this is a not-so-minor pet peeve of mine: not all customization is a "house rule", but it's a term that people like to throw around with abandon. Homebrewed classes and powers are not houserules: the rules offer a supportive framework for them. Reflavoring is not a houserule, the game expressly permits, even encourages molding flavor to fit the occasion. Improvized actions, per page 42, is not a houserule, but, once again, part of the core rules. Customizing NPCs and monsters as per the presented guidelines for doing so is absolutely not a house rule, it's part and parcel of the core rules.

Houseruling is changing something written in text. It is not official, and thus can not carry over to other games. Just because the rules for modifying monsters are there, does not make the creature any more legitimate than an arbitrary decision made at the time of a single roll.

If I were to take Szass Tam for example, as he is stated in the CG, I'd have a hard time convincing any players to fear him, without modification. Therefore, i'd have to houserule, or "modify" the changes, to make him more powerful. I couldn't then take my version of Tam, and enforce him in another game.

Pet Peeve or not, it is what it is.

-RW
Hmm. Surprised that no ones mentioned this obvious one yet:

Advance past the "final" level listed in the PHB - without making up your own rules for it.

That last part is the key. Because in all previous editions you could simply extrapolate the xps needed, spells/feats gained, # of attacks, etc etc etc. from the info you allready had. And because of this there are some very long running games out there with characters with levels far beyond what even "epic" covered.

I know we're trying to keep this from being an argument thread, but this doesn't seem to me like you're holding all editions to the same standard. Yes, you could extrapolate progression charts in previous editions (as you could in 4e), but that sounds very much like making up your own rules for it, to me. Previous editions also had the same problem with spells as 4e has with powers; the progression stops at the top level published.
If I were to take Szass Tam for example, as he is stated in the CG, I'd have a hard time convincing any players to fear him, without modification. Therefore, i'd have to houserule, or "modify" the changes, to make him more powerful. I couldn't then take my version of Tam, and enforce him in another game.

If you're the DM in both of them? Sure you could. It would be just the same as if you came up with an NPC for a homebrewed setting, or if you were one of a set of rotating DMs that share a particular adventure world.

On the other hand, if I'm a player in someone else's Forgotten Realms game, I kinda get very little say whatsoever on what Szass Tam looks and acts like, simply because it runs counter to the player-DM relationship. The only "legitimacy" any NPC has or needs to have is that it's the DM's perogative to use, dismiss, or modify anything in the setting he wants.
Pet Peeve or not, it is what it is.

-RW

To clarify, part of the reason why it's a pet peeve is that D&D as a whole thrives on homebrew, on customization, on improvization. Were it not for these qualities, it never would have gotten off the ground, truth be told- the very first campaign setting was nothing but Arnesen's home game. What I see is that the designers were aware of this, and put a lot of the focus in 4e on providing the tools and framework to support these things. It is true that for people who like the more granular, somewhat less abstract system that 3e gave us, this has the potential to be a bit of a stinker, and I can understand that, but that revamped framework isn't really something appropriately dismissed with a "I don't want houserules (in the broadest sense possible, where it applies even to modifying non-mechanical flavor) to accomplish this".

This reaction strikes me as akin to being given a state-of-the-art racing bike, one appropriate for the Tour de France, and complaining about it with a "But I don't want to have to use my legs to get around!" You're not only failing to appreciate what exactly you have in front of you, but missing the fact that this a fundamental aspect of getting around.
I agree in parts, and this isn't a major point for me, so I'll not lose sleep when we disagree. I'm not contesting any of your non DnD examples (Though in modern fantasy, I tend to see wizards with god like powers in far greater numbers), I'm simply pointing out a drastic change for the Wizards of the DnD genre. Wizards in certain areas took a great hit between 2e, and 3.x, but not so great as the loss between 3.x and 4. They couldn't contend with their past selves, and hold overs must be greatly ashamed of what they have become.

This doesn't make your game, or my own any less fun, and I can as DM compensate where needed, I just find that iconic images loss saddening.



Houseruling is changing something written in text. It is not official, and thus can not carry over to other games. Just because the rules for modifying monsters are there, does not make the creature any more legitimate than an arbitrary decision made at the time of a single roll.

If I were to take Szass Tam for example, as he is stated in the CG, I'd have a hard time convincing any players to fear him, without modification. Therefore, i'd have to houserule, or "modify" the changes, to make him more powerful. I couldn't then take my version of Tam, and enforce him in another game.

Pet Peeve or not, it is what it is.

-RW

You're telling me 4th edition Szass Tam is not fearsome?
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
This is quickly deviating from OPs attempt to have clear concise examples to compare but Id like to chime in about wizard's relative power through 3.x and 4.0. Admittedly this is a bit biased as i dislike 3.x, and harbor particular dislike for the direction the spell slot system took (stupid good/large selection v. other non casters in terms of options, and metamagic cheese among others)

My main issue with 3.x wizards is that sure, at extreme high levels they become godly, but I always wondered how they got there in the first place. They are horrible to level because they die so easy and are so limited till they have a good amount of level under their belt, that only the luckiest of wizards would make it to maturity. This didnt make sense to me, wizards would have been weeded out from the gene pool. This is not the case with 4.0 wizards, they are a species that wouldnt have been eradicated like 3.x wizard would have should have been.

Whats worse 3.x wizard was not fun to level at all. I remember when i ran a group at lvl 1 no one wanted to be the wizard. At higher levels everyone and their housecat wanted to be a spell slinger of one kind or another. Because they had 0 survivability and 0 fun starting out. Unless wizards were born powerful, or always multiclassed i cant see how any of them managed to stay around to become powerful. (Elminster 3.x made sense to me for example since he was fighter/rogue/cleric etc.)

And yeah you can say a high level wizard in 3.x was more powerful relative to 4.0 wizard (mainly because spell selection got to be ridiculous), but he was also more powerful than most all other classes in 3.x and 4.0. Finally, 3.x wizard could deal with more stuff but for less time having to burn through his memed spells until he was impotent; 4.0 archmage (high level wizard) has more staying power through an adventure and is more useful (fun) always. The argument that the 3.x wizard is better against the 4.x wizard because of his having many more spells means squat because the duel between them wont last that long in the first place. Action point owns 3.x wizard. (I think pathfinder has action points, though)

biased demi-rant over.
If you're the DM in both of them? Sure you could. It would be just the same as if you came up with an NPC for a homebrewed setting, or if you were one of a set of rotating DMs that share a particular adventure world.

There are some players though, such as myself when I get the chance to sit in front of the screen, that know when some things are not canon. I'm a big stickler for canon, behind and in front of the screen. This effects the rules as well, which is a large reason why one DM I played with dind't see eye to eye, when we went back and forth. Some people see the rules as a base, and like to disregard them when it's convenient, or makes the story better. I on the other hand like having rules there, and deviating only when they are absent.

*Shrug* Style of play.


To clarify, part of the reason why it's a pet peeve is that D&D as a whole thrives on homebrew, on customization, on improvization. Were it not for these qualities, it never would have gotten off the ground, truth be told- the very first campaign setting was nothing but Arnesen's home game. What I see is that the designers were aware of this, and put a lot of the focus in 4e on providing the tools and framework to support these things. It is true that for people who like the more granular, somewhat less abstract system that 3e gave us, this has the potential to be a bit of a stinker, and I can understand that, but that revamped framework isn't really something appropriately dismissed with a "I don't want houserules (in the broadest sense possible, where it applies even to modifying non-mechanical flavor) to accomplish this".

I'm sorry if that was the impression I gave. I simply think house rules have a time and place, and that generally for me isn't overwriting rules that exist, and work fine.

That said, I often feel like things that don't work (deviating from the NPC for a second), should be corrected with Errata, as I know rule debates come up from time to time, often with the line between the two coming down to RAW vs RA Interpreted/ intended.

This reaction strikes me as akin to being given a state-of-the-art racing bike, one appropriate for the Tour de France, and complaining about it with a "But I don't want to have to use my legs to get around!" You're not only failing to appreciate what exactly you have in front of you, but missing the fact that this a fundamental aspect of getting around.

I see the complaint more akin to being given a state-of-the-art racing bike, only to get on it, and find it pales in comparison in all aspects to the one you had before. This is for the NPC, not the rules now. ;)

-RW
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