Things I Would Do Making 4E

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I've been thinking about the things that grind my game to a halt, or at least mire it down. Many issues have already been addressed judging from what I'm reading online. Some I haven't seen much (or anything) about. So, here are things I'd like to see (or see fixed) in 4E.

  • Flight - I know the charts make sense when you sit down and read them, but during a game, nothing stops the game like something flying. It is so tedious, nothing flies in my campaign. Players don't fool with it, I don't hit them with flying creatures, etc. It just isn't worth it.

  • Turn Undead - We don't fight undead too often, so we don't keep the variety of rolls and charts in mind all the time. Game play comes to a screeching, jarring halt every time the holy symbols come out.

  • Paladin Mounts - We love a good dungeon crawl! Most of our games are spent indoors or underground. Paladins lose a whole class ability when they are somewhere that having a horse is no benefit. Please give an alternative to this class ability in the core rules.

  • Losing Levels - In my campaign, you do not lose a level when you die or from negative levels. I don't keep track of what skill points each person took each level, nor how many hit points were rolled. The bookkeeping of taking a level away is too tedious to bother with. Find some other way of penalizing death or negative levels. In my campaign, characters get a number of lives (like a cat), and that number goes down in these situations. Nothing can restore that number. When you punch your last ticket, so to speak, you cannot be raised from the dead anymore.

  • Magic Item DC - As you level up, your magic items do not. A DC 14 Reflex save on that fireball at 18th level is useless. Magic items should scale with the user. The changes to the saving throw rules will help this a lot, I believe.

  • Lycanthropy - One of the coolest things about were-creatures is that you might end up one yourself after a fight. However, making that happen is clunky and you don't know how to fit those powers into an existing character and it still be balanced. It should be easy for the DM to do and fun for the player to play. The current method is a no-go.

  • Energy Damage Spells - Please save all of us from the useless spell bloat that happens because there is a fireball spell but not a coldball spell. If a spell uses one energy type but could use another, that should be built in already. Either the caster chooses one energy type when he learns or prepares the spell, or he chooses when he casts it. Please get rid of the insanity that is "no one knows how to cast a cone of acid, but cold is fair game."

  • Violet Ray in prismatic spray - I kill more PCs with this effect. It seems my random plane always comes up with something you cannot survive, like the Plane of Negative Energy. Ripping the party apart as a plot device is fun; having it happen randomly against some pud wizard henchman is lame. Get rid of random effects that split the party.

  • Weapon Templates - Masterwork is cool, but it is lonely. Give it some friends. I've added lots of non-magical upgrades to weapons from numerous 3E sources over the years. I have characters who choose some cool non-magical weapons over magical ones from time to time. The great thing about this is that it can be used on magic weapons at later levels, but they are an inexpensive way to get some quality weapons at lower levels. Not everyone should have a +1 weapon, fleshing this area out in the core rules would help that out. See Dragon magazine, issue 358 for a few ideas. Try it, I bet you'll like it.


Anyway, those are just a few of the ideas I've been pondering. I can't wait to see the new edition; my entire gaming group is excited. We have eight players plus me, the DM. Anything that speeds up combat is an A+ in our book!
I'd like to see some simplified rules on poisons. "You take 1d6 con damage...I think." And the ever popular, "Oh, Fiz, you take 1d6 con damage unless you make a save." "What? Why?" "You got poisoned last session and I just now remembered. We won't bother applying this retroactively, though, since we just used up two weeks."
I have to agree on the Flight and Paladin Mounts thing. Though I suspect that "Paladin Mount" will be something available on the paladin talent tree (and if so, it would be cool to see some subsequent talents that make the Paladin's mount cooler too, because right now, it is just a pretty clever horse. Big whoop, frankly) but therefore not mandatory.

On your list, Flight is the biggy. I find the flight rules a big enough P.I.T.A. that I don't use them and I just (pardon the pun) wing it. I hate the flight rules as they stand and hope they streamline quite a bit.
I don't see flight as a problem, but there are verious flight details that while adding more tactical combat also complicate things a little. I for one like that some monsters have to keep moveing while flying, but maby those kind of distinctions could be made without different flight classes. I don't agree at all with the bit about paladin mounts, as meny people like to play mounted knights and fiew games confine players to just a dungeon crawl. I see this as the TCs problem [and meny other TCs]. If your way of running a game is different then the norm that's fine, but don't assume that gamers would best be served by changeing the rules to more closely match your ideas. Your game for example sounds like it would be very un-ingageing to my group, as you simply cut out meny good bits [no undead? ugh] just because you don't like them.
Speaking of poisons, I hate the way they're handled in 3rd Edition. One minute's simply too quick. Some poisons, at least, should kill slowly. Without the antidote, you're dead, but it might not be until evening or the next day.
I think that they have done things to make flying a more tactical part of the game.

I think that you will see more of the hop movement that you find in minature games like Warhammer Fantasy where you rarely have the 'flying high' event.

This though is based upon guesses from looking at Bo9S where the Burning Wind has a few movements that allow the user to make a movement 'hop step' to get into position. A few of the other groups have a similar movement. The R&D article on Dragons had the dragon do a similar 'hop step' that it used when it was getting surrounded by attackers to better gain the advantage of distance to use its abilities as it let loose flame attacks.

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I also hope that the Paladin mount results in two trees. A Paladin that does not use a mount and a Paladin that has extra abilities on the mount (with the mount growing and developing through paragon and beyond to be more than a horse aka pegasus and finally dragon in the epic levels).

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One point that is slightly off topic here but I think is relavent to the discussion. Listening to the developers, you get all sorts of timelines and dates for the 4e project.

Many of the discussions state that they have been first working on 4e for 2 years now. That the rules that they are now working on in playtest since August represent a set of rules that they have gone through four to five iterations of development.

All this time of development and not getting some of the fertile input from the people that use the product till they were getting set to sit down and write the version that would be 4e.

Most MORPGs keep an ongoing 'test server' where people can go and try out new versions of a game. You copy your stuff over, try out some stuff, and when asked a couple of question, you give your answers.

The announcement to statement of schedule of release as forced the developers to miss out on the input that they have said themselves has been good because they are forced to push the product to meet the release schedule.

I am not saying that all fan instincts are good and correct but I think that the wizards should seriously look at following the 4e release at developing a more open test server concept.

It could be called 'Crazy Ideas from R&D' and be examples of optional rules that they have taken to think up, optional character classes and roles, and other items. They would not need to be complete classes and roles to provide the developers with something to still market but they would give possible insights and encourage people to give feedback.

I think that people that have taken the time to follow the boards would like to help the R&D team but are restriction from the development process leaves us shooting arrows in the dark.

Again, sorry if that last bit is off topic.
One thing I'd like to see - though it might take up too much valuable space, is more than one iconic character per class and an interesting background story to go with it.
I swear if another person sits at my table and says anything like "but I thought Sorcerers were supposed to be dragonblooded", I might cause him to choke on his own players handbook.
This has the added benefit, if you include character sheets for these iconics, of being ready made characters for newbies to play. That is a goal, right? To get newbies into playing as painlessly as possible?
I figure, with some finagling, you could get two characters on a sheet. That's 16 pages front and back. That's a lot, but if the characters are written well (interesting background story, maybe tips and tricks along the lines of "feat X was chosen here for y reason", etc.) it'd be worth its weight.

I'd also like to see an honest to god (excuse the pun) intelligent page or two on religion - focusing less on fluff and more on how to construct believable religions (monotheism, animism, atheism, pantheism, polytheism, etc.) in your game world including relics, myths, heroes, iconography, magic, interacting with people of other faiths, etc. I'd write the thing myself if I was asked to.

Finally, I'd like to see lots of pictures - pictures that stimulate the imagination and get you asking "why does that guy have that mark and what does it mean?" or "what happens next?" or something like that. A GM or player can take a picture and build an entire story around it - thereby creating anything from a character to an entire campaign world. Everway used such pictures to good effect. I'm tired of the dirty little secret of roleplaying - that there's so little imagination at most tables.
[*]Flight - I know the charts make sense when you sit down and read them, but during a game, nothing stops the game like something flying. It is so tedious, nothing flies in my campaign. Players don't fool with it, I don't hit them with flying creatures, etc. It just isn't worth it.

Flying works fairly smoothly in our games. Then again we don't even looks at the rules in the core books. We just use a system similar to the DDM rules for flying entities and that works well, is fast, and is fun.

[*]Turn Undead - We don't fight undead too often, so we don't keep the variety of rolls and charts in mind all the time. Game play comes to a screeching, jarring halt every time the holy symbols come out.

Agreed. Turn Undead may be sacred cow to some but the rules are so clunky we hate to even use this in our game. The last time it came up the DM just declared a certain amount of damage was done in an area of effect. There is nothing "turn" about that but it worked much better.

[*]Paladin Mounts - We love a good dungeon crawl! Most of our games are spent indoors or underground. Paladins lose a whole class ability when they are somewhere that having a horse is no benefit. Please give an alternative to this class ability in the core rules.

I agree here as well. I played a paladin for quite a while and this always annoyed me.

[*]Losing Levels - In my campaign, you do not lose a level when you die or from negative levels. I don't keep track of what skill points each person took each level, nor how many hit points were rolled. The bookkeeping of taking a level away is too tedious to bother with. Find some other way of penalizing death or negative levels. In my campaign, characters get a number of lives (like a cat), and that number goes down in these situations. Nothing can restore that number. When you punch your last ticket, so to speak, you cannot be raised from the dead anymore.

We don't lose levels in my game either. Our method is 1) you lose out on XP because you are no longer active until revived 2) you lose the funds necessary to facilitate the revival process and 3) you can only be revived so many times. I'm not sure what they are planning for 4E but it doesn't impress us we will be sticking with that method.

[*]Magic Item DC - As you level up, your magic items do not. A DC 14 Reflex save on that fireball at 18th level is useless. Magic items should scale with the user. The changes to the saving throw rules will help this a lot, I believe.

I guess you are a fan of the Legacy items? I think 'some' items should advance with the character and some should not. That all depends on the DM's campaign so it is a touchy subject. Changing something like that isn't just changing the rules it is changing the way a fantasy world works and that may be too invasive.

[*]Lycanthropy - One of the coolest things about were-creatures is that you might end up one yourself after a fight. However, making that happen is clunky and you don't know how to fit those powers into an existing character and it still be balanced. It should be easy for the DM to do and fun for the player to play. The current method is a no-go.

I have always been under the impression that Lycanthropy in D&D is 100% a Curse. The idea to us, as gamers, is cool but within D&D they don't focus on that idea. Personally, I would rather it stay a Curse.

[*]Energy Damage Spells - Please save all of us from the useless spell bloat that happens because there is a fireball spell but not a coldball spell. If a spell uses one energy type but could use another, that should be built in already. Either the caster chooses one energy type when he learns or prepares the spell, or he chooses when he casts it. Please get rid of the insanity that is "no one knows how to cast a cone of acid, but cold is fair game."

I never had a problem with this but then again it isn't something I have ever used in the game. It just never appealed to my group but I don't have a problem with someone else using it.

[*]Violet Ray in prismatic spray - I kill more PCs with this effect. It seems my random plane always comes up with something you cannot survive, like the Plane of Negative Energy. Ripping the party apart as a plot device is fun; having it happen randomly against some pud wizard henchman is lame. Get rid of random effects that split the party.

Good point.

[*]Weapon Templates - Masterwork is cool, but it is lonely. Give it some friends. I've added lots of non-magical upgrades to weapons from numerous 3E sources over the years. I have characters who choose some cool non-magical weapons over magical ones from time to time. The great thing about this is that it can be used on magic weapons at later levels, but they are an inexpensive way to get some quality weapons at lower levels. Not everyone should have a +1 weapon, fleshing this area out in the core rules would help that out. See Dragon magazine, issue 358 for a few ideas. Try it, I bet you'll like it.
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Definitely sounds like a good area to do some serious development in and I agree with you. I would be interested in seeing what kind of work you have done in this area already. Have a website or anything?
I like your list. However, some of the things I would add to it are:

  • Let's lose the saving throws. I love the idea in the SWSE RPG that you have defense score and it must be overcome by the attacker's spell ability etc...

  • Level based AC. Similar to SWSE or what is presented in the Unearthed Arcana.

  • Speaking of which skills should be made simpler (level dependent) as well. Again like the SWSE or Unearthed Arcana systems.

  • As a general rule of thumb it would be nice if all variable effects in the game only used character and/or class level as "currency" rather than skill points, turns/day etc...

  • Oh yeah, and it would be cool to get more feats for all classes. By the time you factor in all of the core, the complete series' and setting books' feat lists it seems like there are lot of feats that might fit a particular character, and still not unbalance it. Especially background feats. And one feat every three levels doesn't allow for a whole of lot of character differentiation. Although this could be handled as a house rule "ok, everybody get's a feat at every level."

  • Something else I'd like to see but I have no idea how to implement would be to have a Book of Nine Swords style progression for all character classes. So even if you don't gain the per level average amount of GP and/or magic items, a character's combat/damage potential and general capabilities keep you relevant at higher levels. As in you don't need a +8 Holy Avenger and +6 Full Plate as a 25th level Paladin to go toe to toe with a Balor. Just by virtue of being a 25th level Paladin you should be a match for an equivalent HD Fiend, regardless of equipment loadout.



I've been thinking about the things that grind my game to a halt, or at least mire it down. Many issues have already been addressed judging from what I'm reading online. Some I haven't seen much (or anything) about. So, here are things I'd like to see (or see fixed) in 4E.

  • Flight - I know the charts make sense when you sit down and read them, but during a game, nothing stops the game like something flying. It is so tedious, nothing flies in my campaign. Players don't fool with it, I don't hit them with flying creatures, etc. It just isn't worth it.

  • Turn Undead - We don't fight undead too often, so we don't keep the variety of rolls and charts in mind all the time. Game play comes to a screeching, jarring halt every time the holy symbols come out.

  • Paladin Mounts - We love a good dungeon crawl! Most of our games are spent indoors or underground. Paladins lose a whole class ability when they are somewhere that having a horse is no benefit. Please give an alternative to this class ability in the core rules.

  • Losing Levels - In my campaign, you do not lose a level when you die or from negative levels. I don't keep track of what skill points each person took each level, nor how many hit points were rolled. The bookkeeping of taking a level away is too tedious to bother with. Find some other way of penalizing death or negative levels. In my campaign, characters get a number of lives (like a cat), and that number goes down in these situations. Nothing can restore that number. When you punch your last ticket, so to speak, you cannot be raised from the dead anymore.

  • Magic Item DC - As you level up, your magic items do not. A DC 14 Reflex save on that fireball at 18th level is useless. Magic items should scale with the user. The changes to the saving throw rules will help this a lot, I believe.

  • Lycanthropy - One of the coolest things about were-creatures is that you might end up one yourself after a fight. However, making that happen is clunky and you don't know how to fit those powers into an existing character and it still be balanced. It should be easy for the DM to do and fun for the player to play. The current method is a no-go.

  • Energy Damage Spells - Please save all of us from the useless spell bloat that happens because there is a fireball spell but not a coldball spell. If a spell uses one energy type but could use another, that should be built in already. Either the caster chooses one energy type when he learns or prepares the spell, or he chooses when he casts it. Please get rid of the insanity that is "no one knows how to cast a cone of acid, but cold is fair game."

  • Violet Ray in prismatic spray - I kill more PCs with this effect. It seems my random plane always comes up with something you cannot survive, like the Plane of Negative Energy. Ripping the party apart as a plot device is fun; having it happen randomly against some pud wizard henchman is lame. Get rid of random effects that split the party.

  • Weapon Templates - Masterwork is cool, but it is lonely. Give it some friends. I've added lots of non-magical upgrades to weapons from numerous 3E sources over the years. I have characters who choose some cool non-magical weapons over magical ones from time to time. The great thing about this is that it can be used on magic weapons at later levels, but they are an inexpensive way to get some quality weapons at lower levels. Not everyone should have a +1 weapon, fleshing this area out in the core rules would help that out. See Dragon magazine, issue 358 for a few ideas. Try it, I bet you'll like it.


Anyway, those are just a few of the ideas I've been pondering. I can't wait to see the new edition; my entire gaming group is excited. We have eight players plus me, the DM. Anything that speeds up combat is an A+ in our book![/QUOT