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D&D 4th Edition... Thoughts?

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I finally got to play 4.0 this past weekend, I'm a D&D newbie so there wasn't a lot of confusion for me in making the transition. It was fun, but I was also gaming with a group of fellow newbies so none of us were really that familiar with 3.5 to have any complaints. My only concern about the system thus far is that it's not very nice to magic users, some spells you'd think would be once per encounter are once per day and others that should be at will are encounter. It's all strange and frustrating to those who like to fling magic around.

 

The group I was gaming with was more interested in role-playing than combat so, the system works for the group. We all agreed that combat was simple enough that any of us could, in theory, run a session. We're sticking with 4.0 for now while we're in fantasy mode.

Secret wish is that we get to Werewolf mode again soon.

 

 

Depending on how complicated you like your campaigns will depend on how much you'll like it.

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Just a few thoughts after a better overview of the books:

 

1) They are heavy on mechanics, and extremely light on any sort of fluff. While this is great for gamers who have been involved in D&D or Fantasy RPGs for years it sort of sucks for newer gamers in my mind. The new Monster Manuel, for example, presents a huge variety of creatures (far more than previously seen in such a book) and each creature has abilities that really characterizes them in combat; the same book however sacrifices details about a given monsters social characteristics and role in the fantasy setting to provide the above information. I know where a Gnoll fits into the classic D&D world, but new gamers will either have to do more research or create there own background.

 

2) The new DMG is possibly the best D&D GM manual to have been created, most of it feels like a real resource, whereas previously the past couple books haven't felt that way to me. I think they will be excellent for new DMs as a real tool.

 

3) I really dislike how they've thrown together the encounter lists in the MM, they seem to have very little structure, and it feels like they've just tried to put together balanced encounters without reasoning why such creatures would be found together. It will be easier for me to play around with a few monsters add a template or up them to an Elite than it will to explain away some of the bizarre pairing that appear in the MM. Possibly the thing I've come across that I like least.

 

4) That being said, does it ever appear to be much easier to put together encounters and modify monsters in 4th, I'm over the moon about how quick it looks like an encounter/adventure can come together.

 

5) I've sat down and tried to put a few characters together, and truth be told I have struggled to come up with power combinations of Abilities, Feats, and Powers that are clear winners over other choices. Certain initial choices in Abilities, Feats, and Powers lend themselves to be used in combination with each other and certain weapon/armor combos, but that doesn't mean they are more powerful than other choices.

 

6) Everything looks useful; most powers and Feats and weapons are worth choosing even if none stand out, and I think this is pretty cool. Balance is everything to me.

 

7) Possibly the biggest change to the game is the inability to really create exactly what you want, and this is probably the #1 place 4th takes a step back from 3.X (multi-classing). In 3rd you could make and do just about anything with your character, in 4th you can mostly do the same thing, but doing so is very often a disadvantage or a sacrifice. Still, multi-classing was the biggest abuse in 3.X, and it has actually been handled rather nicely in 4th, certain class combinations even manage to come out better. I like the new multi-classing, but the options and varieties aren't as strong.

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Wise words

 

Good post. I'd like to make an addendum to #7 though. While the player options for creating exactly what you want, are quite a bit more limited than in 3.x, I see a lot of room for expansion. For instance they could quadruple the number of feats, without upsetting game balance because of how mild the feats are, and how they are based on certain principles. A year or so down the road, players will have access to a lot more options, which unlike previous editions aren't as likely to be affected by powercreep as long as they stick with their current design model and philosophies.

 

The DM on the other hand, has a huge toolbox right out of the gate. Being able to very easily modify the level of a creature, and customize its appearance/abilities without upsetting balance, is an incredible tool for building exactly the kind of encounter you want, for the level, number, and distribution of PCs.

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Yeah, as a long-time DM I've been through so many settings forward and backward that of course I developed my own...so the lack of fluff is actually a BONUS for me, I love it! It's SO easy to take these books and run my own setting with them. ::): Re: monsters and balance over fluff/rationale, not a big issue for me. I usually can come up with some reason for different creatures to be working together, and if I can't I just change the name, look, and if needs be biology/personality of the monster until it does fit it ad just keep the stats. A bit harder for a new GM to get a handle on, but I would think a lot of experienced GM's would appreciate the encouragement to develop their own stories and explanations (or just change 'em outright).

 

Thanks for the feedback, guys! It sounds like I will enjoy running this game. My fiance is actually running one (I get to play) and then I am running one (he gets to play!) so I will get to experience the new system from both sides of the gate. ::):

 

But first...must get ready for a convention this weekend. Boo hiss! I want my D&D! :;):

 

--Anne ::D:

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Please promise me that you'll never read Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. I fear that it will scar you for life, what with its open support for cannibalism.

I've read it - quite good.

 

I don't see how the fact that gaming is social changes anything.

 

If one person can just change rule x to y, than a group of 5 people can change x to y. How does having multiple people change the fact that you're just changing rule x to y?

Ever heard the expression "Too many cooks spoil the broth"? Cooking only requires ONE person to get their desired end results - be it a cake, casserole or quiche. It really doesn't matter to the people eating it if it was prepared using a wooden spoon or plastic one, the choices by the cook in that process is not visible to the diner. The more cooks you add to that process, with each adding their own input, the more likely you are to end up with something inedible.

 

Gaming pretty much requires at least 2 people, and most would agree for the end result to be really satisfying, 5 is an optimal number. Try having five people bake a cake together.

 

I will agree that a cooking recipe and a set of gaming rules are very similar in concept, and that in both cases the end results are really what matters, and while I do get the author's point and see the humor, I feel he ignored one of the major differences between the two to get that humor. That's all I'm saying.

 

The DM on the other hand, has a huge toolbox right out of the gate. Being able to very easily modify the level of a creature, and customize its appearance/abilities without upsetting balance, is an incredible tool for building exactly the kind of encounter you want, for the level, number, and distribution of PCs.

Even without playing it, and no real desire to, upon seeing this in my brief glance through the DMG and hearing it expanded on here and elsewhere, I've got to say that I think this is one of 4e's biggest strengths. If anything is going to convince me to try 4e, this is it.

 

I agree with Anne on the lack of fluf thing as well - I've never liked using someone else's settings - at least not whole. I don't recall my original AD&D PH or DMG having all that much fluff either, though I could be wrong.

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RE: Fluff

 

I sorta feel the opposite, I like having the basic fluff there and in place, and should I choose to modify it I can. It helps me as a DM limit the amount of time I need to spend on background material when I am trying to put things together; likewise it helps me keep things consistent and prevents contradictions when I'm forced to make decisions on the fly.

 

Still, as I'm a long time player It really isn't an issue for me.

 

Oh, and one thing I'm super impressed about is that the Quickling is in the Monster Manual, my favorite 1st edition monster! Yay!

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One thing that doesn't seem to have come up in this conversation so far, that's been mentioned several times on the D&D forums, is that not only were they trying to balance things so they worked in the pen-and-paper game, but also so they worked online as well, with the D&DI stuff. I'm sure the fact that they had to make the rules work within the framework of an online situation (which they still apparently haven't quite straightened out yet :rolleyes: ) had a lot to do with the way some aspects of the game were structured and "balanced"... Which, in my opinion, is why there's quite a bit of the core books that reminds me of computer source code - in-game the rules act the way they're supposed to, but the rules mechanics themselves don't look at all like the end product, i.e., the situations they cover in the game.

This is where the retraining situation comes in. In real life, you don't just forget old skills and abilities, but in a video game when you get a cool new magic sword you drop the old one, because you can only hold one sword at a time. Just like everything else in the books, they only covered the "How", without exploring the "Why". The "why" doesn't interact with the game mechanics, so it's effectively irrelevant, at least from a design point of view.

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RE: Rituals

I was wrong about Rituals being castable by anyone as long as they can find a copy of the ritual and have the components. I read the section a bit closer, and my current understanding is a bit different.

 

Rituals are castable by everyone, but they have to have Ritual Casting feat (which requires being trained in Arcana or Religion skills). Wizards and Clerics get those for free, but everyone else has to take a feat to get Arcana or Religion skills and then the Ritual Casting feat. Then the chance for succeeding depends on the appropriate skill. With my better understanding, I think that the Rituals seem okay.

 

Annotated Combat Playtest

The Nuketown site has an annotated combat playtest here.

 

Ron

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I read that entire synopsis of their combat scenario. Still nothing compelling enough about it for me to switch. The thing is; even if I really liked it I'd have to "sell" it to all of my friends who are even less interested than I am. I don't even like what I've seen enough to switch myself; let alone try to persuade 5 other people who are even more skeptical and lazy than I am.

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Had my first game of 4e last night. I've played a lot of different systems in the past and this just doesn't do anything for me. It's limp and lacklustre IMHO. Too many default situations, not enough flexibilty for the characters. I did get to play a 1st lvl gnoll cleric, which was the bit of fun I had due to the role play situations, but mechanics wise didn't make any difference to actual game play. Felt like just another fighter. Not enough risk to the character in combat to make you think too hard.

 

I would put the new system in line with "Macho Women With Guns" for mechanics. WotC have fluffed this one.

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I would put the new system in line with "Macho Women With Guns" for mechanics. WotC have fluffed this one.

 

That is an insult to MWWG.

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I would put the new system in line with "Macho Women With Guns" for mechanics. WotC have fluffed this one.

 

That is an insult to MWWG.

 

Only the mechanics, but then again!

 

MWWG is far more fun and has a lot more interesting characters! Plus unashamedly big guns and even less clothing than ladies from the fantasy genre.

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Well I'm not jumping on the 4e wagon just yet, but I ordered the Player's book from Walmart.com of all places today. Figured at their price even with shipping I can afford to give this one a through read + never know someone might pop up in town & want to run a game of it. (thou I'd pursade them to run Pathfinder thou, ha ha)

 

RM

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Just played our first 2 games, and I love it. My 3.5 is getting packed up when I get home. I have played D&D since about 1984 or so, so I have seen all the versions (own the orginal stuff, too). For everyone against it, try it I say. Just like Green Eggs and Ham - you want to hate, so you don't ever try. But when you do, I think most people will be pleased with the results.

 

The game runs smooth, and focuses on combat - but all versions of D&D have. Minimal downtime between fights keeps the action up. The whole group, 6 of us, agreed it is a much better game.

 

The group has to work together to beat 'Hard' combats. Every character has a place in every fight, I think - which is great. And no-one can take it solo in a fight - surest way to die. Really helps with group tactics / dynamics. Everyone has to know what is going on, and group tactics are built into the core rules for just about every class.

 

There are a pile of monsters in the MM, also. So building encounters is easy. Use a 'template' from the DMG, fill it out and modify it as you want, and you are good to go. As a DM, I planned out 6 encounters to take the group from first to 2nd level, and it took me less than 1/2 the time as 3.5, and they ran smoother and we had a better time.

 

And the options available to characters are great. Each character has a role, and plays that role well, with minimal overlap with other classes - makes every character unique. And it is really hard to power game it - everything is balanced, IMO. No feat / race / class combinations that screw the DM.

 

Mike

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