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D&D 4th Edition... Thoughts?

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Not that I play D&D anymore, not having a group, but I did pick up the 4th Edition books out of curiosity and because I got a good deal ($57 for all 3 including shipping).

 

Just skimmed parts of the Player's Handbook.

 

Wow! Talk about some significant and serious changes! Stunningly different game from the 3.5 version (based on a quick skim of one book).

 

The book is a bit confusing for me and rather dense. Not enough examples.

 

Among the changes (as far as I understand them, the book is confusing enough that skimming means that I could have misunderstood):

  • Everyone now has the same chance to hit assuming weapon proficiency (1/2 level + ability modifier) barring chosen class features/feats/powers
  • Everyone has more hit points
  • much less flexibility for spell casters
  • spells divided into at will (can cast as many times as you want), encounter (once per encounter), daily, utility, and ritual
  • everyone gets "powers" at every level. Spellcasters get spells as their powers
  • no barbarians, bards, druids, or monks (at least not in the Player's Handbook)
  • no gnomes or half orcs (at least not in the Player's Handbook)
  • no multiclassing, but you can take a multiclass feat to pick up an ability or two from another class
  • alignment choices limited to good, lawful good, evil, chaotic evil, and unaligned
  • The Eladrin (super teleporting elf) can teleport up to 50 feet once per encounter
  • proficiency in a weapon grants a bonus to hit
  • recovery of 1/4 of hit points after an encounter

 

The separation of spells is quite interesting. Magic Missile is an at will spell, so you can cast it as many times as needed during the course of a day. Burning Hands is an Encounter spell, so you can cast it once per encounter. Sleep is a Daily spell, so you can only cast it once per day. So, for a low level mage (er, wizard), the spells that you can cast is quite different.

 

I think that if I were to start a game, I'd stick with 3.5 (or go to Paizo's Pathfinder).

 

Ron

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We did our "should we convert" 4e bull session today, and generate characters. My reaction is that the rules seem a lot less flexible. Things that I really, really don't like is:

 

-no multiclassing: this was an awesome feature of 3e, disposing of the clunky (and artificial 1e/2e mechanic), allowing for a huge variety of characters.

-skill system is definitely "dumbed down." I really like skill based games; 4e makes skills into something slightly better than non-weapon proficiencies. Huge step back...

-the powers issue listed above. A very artificial seeming constraint.

 

One thing I noticed reading the rules: this game reads sort of like an upscale version of the miniatures rules. And some of the WoW influence is very clearly there...

 

Damon.

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I believe they were very conscious that the WOW market was one of their main targets for 4e. Now, I'm not quite sure how they are going to actually get these rules in the hands of people that don't know that D&D ever existed. I know that during my time playing Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot it was extremely rare to come across someone that actually knew what a paper and pencil RPG was.

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as the only member of our group whos actually picked up the new rules we haven't made a descision yet but I must say I'm less than impressed by the new stuff, it seems to have been really dumbed down and I still cant get over the fact that they got rid of hit dice, I foresee us sticking with 3.5...

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I believe they were very conscious that the WOW market was one of their main targets for 4e. Now, I'm not quite sure how they are going to actually get these rules in the hands of people that don't know that D&D ever existed. I know that during my time playing Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot it was extremely rare to come across someone that actually knew what a paper and pencil RPG was.

 

 

I agree the MMO market is not full of pen and paper players. Sure you meet a few here and there but not all that many. I probably met more people who had played pen and paper in SWG than WoW oddly enough but they still didn't represent the majority of players.

 

It sounds like the new D&D is a lot like the new Star Wars. So far I don't really care too much for the new Star Wars but I've yet to actually play it even though I've spent over $100 on books so far. It is very dumbed down and a bit more like a wargame than a traditional rpg which is actually one of it's up sides but the Saga edition is not really the same game as the older D20 rules at all. All combat is set up for their gridded maps and miniatures. I like minis but not those annoying maps yet converting to terrain for combat is going to require some house rules. Not only that but WotC actually added a text box to the combat system that says they assume that players will be using their miniatures and maps. Well that's nice we're suppose to spend hundereds of dollars on random pull minis and very limited maps just to play their RPG? I can't imagine trying to convert an old campaign to this new system and I don't recal reading anything in the new books that even suggest how.

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as the only member of our group whos actually picked up the new rules we haven't made a descision yet but I must say I'm less than impressed by the new stuff, it seems to have been really dumbed down and I still cant get over the fact that they got rid of hit dice, I foresee us sticking with 3.5...

That's seems to be the word floating around my LGS that it appears to be dumbed down and uninteresting , not to speak about a waste of money . Can't comment just yet as I only bought my copy today . Even the owner of the LGS was not impressed . :rolleyes:

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Actually, at first glance SAGA Star Wars is a better game, IMHO. If I could "regress" the skill system (i.e. if an option existed for that), I'd be happy.

 

One other observation about 4e: the rules seem very "gamey." That is, the logic behind the rules is designed for game balance, not to "simulate" (in broad strokes) what it is to adventure in a fantasy world. In this aspect it reminds me of Mechwarrior (and its ridiculous push damage system), gamey aspects that do not neccessarily conform to any sort of reality based expectations (yes, I know it is a fantasy game...suspension of disbelief and all that).

 

Damon.

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OK - had to skim through my 'copy' of the PHB after reading some of the comments. My thoughts.

 

  • What's with the standard hit points? Where's the fun in knowing exactly how you're going to advance?
  • What's with the racial modifiers all being additive? Where's the balance of you get +2 to this but you take -2 to that?
  • Dragonborn and tiefling? Yawn. Munchkin-pandering.
  • This 'at-will/per encounter/per day' carp is just confusing.
  • What's with the 'healing surges'?

I could go on quite a bit but actually skimming confirmed what my thoughts were from the beginning. They're making this a PnP version of an MMPORG and taking out everything that makes a player put thought into actions.

 

I'm not seeing much of anything here that would convince me that this would be an enjoyable game to play. It seems to have taken out all the risk and suspense that a good adventure will have. There's virtually no worry about losing your character since they heal themselves, heal immediately after an encounter, and can be resurrected/raised with the equivalent effect of a sneeze.

 

<sarcasm>Yeah. Sounds like fun to me.</sarcasm>

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Ok I just got back a little while ago from playing the official launch demo. I gotta say right off the bat that the set up for the adventure was lame for a demo game. Basically it was a rescue mission but the reward was 50 gp for each character. Who cares? Wow 50 gold for a demo character I'm not going to play again. I would have thought professional game designers would have come up with a more creative adventure hook than doing it for the money.....

 

There were five character to choose from. A male dwarf fighter, a male human fighter, a female human magic user, a male human cleric, and a male half-elf Rogue. I played the Half-Elf Rogue because when it came to my pick it was between him and the cleric and I don't really care much for clerics. On another kind of annoying note I learned at this point that neither Gnome nor Half-Orc are playable races in the new game. I just want to take a moment to send a big FU to WotC for removing Half-Orc as it was one of three races I would usually play. I'm sure Gnome players feel the same way. I can't imagine the logic behind axeing these two staple races from the game.

 

Even after all that I decided it would be best to keep an open mind about the game and judge it as a game first and what resemblance it had to what I consider D&D second. As a game it was fun enough and the rules played well enough. It was even in many ways something I've been looking for. A game the bridges the gap between traditional RPGs and miniature skirmish games. It was not however what you would consider a full fledged RPG or D&D as we have come to know it. As a light RPG/Dungeon crawl miniature game it is pretty good. It also felt quite a lot like playing an MMORPG around a table. If that is what WotC was going for with this game then I think they hit their mark. That's great but it's not a full fledged RPG. Skills are streamlined, advancement is more rigid, and you have fewer options than what I think a lot of traditional roleplayers would want from a system especially if you prefer skill based systems to class based systems like I do. True D&D has never been skill based but 4E and the new Saga Star Wars rules are very rigid class based systems. A human fighter is a human fighter and won't be much different from any other human fighters. A bit different sure but not nearly as different as even 3.5 fighters could be. Good for the GM I suppose but kinda boring for players I would think.

 

The main feature that gave the game a vidio game feel was the use of powers. Now everyone is magical or at least seems that way. You have powers you can use any time called at-will powers. These are somewhat better than regular attacks under certain situations but not always. For instance my Piercing Strike ability for my rogue targets reflex defense rathen than AC so for slow and or heavily armored targets it's a good choice. Then there are encounter powers that you can use once per encounter and daily powers you can use one time per day. That really felt odd to me especially the encounter powers. They reminded me of certain World of Warcraft abilities with long cool downs. Not to mention that you would have to have pretty clear cut encounters or things could get confusing.

 

I could go into more things here but I'm sure other people will have more to add. Basically I fet it was a pretty good adventure miniature game but I'd hesitate to consider it a full RPG especially in the area of character development. If you like MMORPGs then this is a pretty good table top sim of that type of game. If you look at MMORPGs as a substitute for real RPGs like I do or if you don't care for MMORPGs you probably will like it a lot less or not at all. I can see where this game would certainly take the load off GMs a bit and it was easy to pick up. My group pretty much Pwned the adventure because we picked up really quickly on the powers and how to use them to their best advantage. I just personally wouldn't chose this game if I was looking for a serious and well developed RPG. It seems great for dungeon crawls, conventions, groups pressed for time, or casual roleplaying. It didn't leave me with a lot of desire to pick it up over previous editions and considering it's cost it's pretty expensive compaired to other RPG light miniature games so I have to say that I liked it but not enough to go out an drop a bunch of money of the rules at this point. I'm sure that's not what WotC had in mind.

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Yup Gnomes & Half-orc got relegated to places in the Monster Manual. There are rules for making them into PC races in the MM, but still (more or less they put them along with other common PC type monsters for quick NPC creation). I've skimmed the PH & the thing that struck me the most was the no roll for hps now. Now I've always let the player roll over if they got a 1, as a) it sucks to roll a 1 for health b) it helps the character last a bit longer in games (one thing that took forever in our games was character creation, we usually devoted a a game day just to do that, epically on my end, as I would get distracted or I wanted to change, etc etc. Having a set # of hps is just goofy, but hey I guess if WoW or any other MMO can, then I guess it was cool to have it :rolleyes:

 

I guess I'm just a old fuddy-duddy when it comes to rpgs & I'll stick with 3.5 & go with Pathfinder rules. At least I know the source material & other factors are right with what I want in my fantasy game.

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I've demoed 4e for two groups so far, and I friggin' love it -- the at-will/encounter/daily system (cribbed a little from true20) gives everyone fun stuff to do, wizards are less broken while still keeping their signature spells AND becoming more Vancian (in the "Jack" sense) in the process.

 

The monsters are great -- each one has a few signature abilities that make them feel unique, and they're much, much easier to generate than they used to be.

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We ran the D&D Games Day scenario here twice today and everyone had fun, but I think all the moaning and groaning that has been going on since it was announced hurt the actual sales. People still want to give it a try before spending the money on new books. Our store DM is slowly coming around to almost liking the system, but sees a lot of weak points that players aren't going to like, some of which Ron mention in the original post.

 

There was supposed to be a third run of the scenario this evening but no one else showed up, and running an adventure for 5 players when there's only one kinda sucks. The one player that was there and eager was poor me, who wanted something to do while the Magic players were having their tournament.

 

If I can be nice to the pages of a Player's Handbook (I'm not buying my own copy until they put out the paperback in the Player's Kit), I'll probably spend this coming week making a character for when the store's 4E campaign gets started up. We're planning on just running the adventure series for that one, starting with Keep on Shadowfell. Running the adventures will make it easier for the store's DM to run two campaigns for us without frying his brain (I think he's also angling for free copies of the adventures, but that's good compensation since he averages 10 players in the 3.5 campaign).

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So with 4th edition the emphasis is on easy to learn and play but do you think any kid out there save a few is going to spend 35-100$ on books when they can buy Grand Theft Auto and some energy drinks? Nope.

4th edition is meant for a target audience that is never going to purchase it.

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I was at a launch demo today, with twenty players from near novice to very experienced.

 

Not everyone loved everything about 4th, but they all liked it enough to want to switch.

 

The adventure was simple, but what would you expect for players using characters they may well never use again? 50GP or 5000GP, it doesn't matter. The promo adventure was designed to give people a glimpse at what 4th had to offer.

 

The DM could decide to simply run combat, or let the players try out the stripped down skill system presented in the promo adventure. With a couple of people that had already gone through the new books, it was much easier to add more options.

 

For every player that loves gnomes and half orcs, the option is still there for DM's to bring them in. In 30 years of playing D&D, I've only met one player who liked either race, though I know there are others out there. As long as the DM knows what they're willing to deal with, it's never been that hard to add PC races.

 

The same can be said for rolling hit points. I've seen several ways to roll hit points through the years. One of the most common was to simply take the average for each level, because not everyone wants a random chance that could be very low.

 

The promo adventure was designed to be run without the PHB, MM, or DMG. With that, it couldn't display a lot of the depth the game can have, because it was running without the entire game available. An adventure run on less than a half dozen pages of the rules has to be very simple and streamlined from the full game.

 

All players have at will, encounter, and daily use powers. That isn't that odd. Many feats worked in similar fashion, but they weren't defined the same way.

 

4th is different, but to say it isn't really an RPG after just the promo adventure is very premature. Players and the DM make an RPG. A quick start adventure is only a teaser. If the DM wasn't trying to show the options, which would be hard without having had the options available, the game would have to be simplistic compared to the full game.

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I have never played a MMORPG nor do I want to . After a thorough read through th PHB , I don't think this is the game for me or my group and I think we'll be sticking to 3.5 . <_<

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