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D&D 4th Edition... Thoughts?

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We aren't talking about content here. We are talking about game mechanics that support more than combat!

I've heard that they're coming out with game mechanics similar to the combat mechanics for rolling out social interaction.

 

I don't know how true that is, but if it is, then they really have converted to Roll-playing.

It annoys me when people say in shocked tones, "They have rules for social interaction?" as though that was utterly sacrosanct and impossible to represent with rules. You have rules for combat, because some characters are better than others at combat, there is a random factor, and the guy who has played LARPs or has read about medieval combat shouldn't be able to 'win' the combat simply by providing a superficially more convincing description of his actions.

I've got nothing against rules for social interaction. That's why skills such as bluff and diplomacy exist. I just can't imagine making them similar to combat mechanics - IE, rounds, turns, etc.

Are you sure they're going to be just like that? If they are then I'll agree that sounds stupid. Or maybe they are only to be used in times of stress, when timekeeping is important, like if something else is about to happen.

 

Ishil

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Are you sure they're going to be just like that? If they are then I'll agree that sounds stupid. Or maybe they are only to be used in times of stress, when timekeeping is important, like if something else is about to happen.

 

That's what I've heard. But I'll admit that I don't know how much of that is simply panic and how much is truth. Personally, I'll beleive it when I see it.

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I don't play much D&D anyways but what I dislike is it seems this is aimed at RPGing with miniatures and I don't do that. Does the game work for people who roleplay combat with their imaginations and without using minis? (Please note this is not a derogatory comment just a way of describing how we deal with combat in any RPG)

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Miniatures can be very useful for imagining a battleground. In your head, the ground can easily be just a void with no features. With a map, it's easy to put down walls, rivers, hills, etc., which makes combat more tactical and more interesting. On the other hand, combat in real life is a flowing, chaotic affair where combatants move around - they don't stand still. With miniatures on a grid it can easily become articially static.

 

Ishil

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I don't play much D&D anyways but what I dislike is it seems this is aimed at RPGing with miniatures and I don't do that. Does the game work for people who roleplay combat with their imaginations and without using minis? (Please note this is not a derogatory comment just a way of describing how we deal with combat in any RPG)

 

A fair comment. I'd like to say first of all that my group and I prefer to use mini's and floorplans wherever possible in our RPGs. I think people people tend to respond better to visual cues (so I like to use other props as well).

 

However, I'm also very aware of the fact that this isn't for everyone, I've been in a few passionate arguments with people in the past about the whole mini's in roleplaying games thing, so this concern was one of the first things I noticed. So here is what I read from the 4e PHB and DMG.

 

The PHB doesn't say that minis and a battlemat/floor plans are required. It just suggests their use. However, in the ROOLZ, everything is expressed in SQUARES now, as opposed to feet. It's easy for a former 3.5 player to cope with. 1 square = 5ft so we know what a square represents. I don't however recall anything explicitly stating that in the PHB, though I could well be wrong and may have just glanced over it given I know it already.

 

The DMG on the otherhand lists D&D minis and D&D floorplans as a "needed" tool. I don't know why it conflicts with the PHB in this way, maybe it's sort of like "your DM will bring it" or something.

 

So yeah, going by the books, it looks like mini's are pretty much needed mainly because of so many things being expressed in squares. I guess you could substitute with graph paper and counters or something though.

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The versitility of the multiclassing system gave enormouse depth to characters. Players could easily break free of the classic, meat shield, fighter or the token, heal bot, cleric with just the core rules.

 

 

There are multiclassing feats which bring some interesting elements to characters. I have two Warlocks that are picking up a Rogue multiclass feat, and a rogue looking at picking up a Warlock multiclass feat.

 

(granted, however, I allowed a more broad range of Rogue skills for the multiclass feat than just "thievery")

 

I thought that was an interesting take on multiclassing.

 

 

 

 

On a second note, one thing I noticed with amusement with 3.5 is that town guards didn't have Spot or Sense Motive as class skills. Made life for my rogue very fun :)

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The PHB doesn't say that minis and a battlemat/floor plans are required. It just suggests their use. However, in the ROOLZ, everything is expressed in SQUARES now, as opposed to feet. It's easy for a former 3.5 player to cope with. 1 square = 5ft so we know what a square represents. I don't however recall anything explicitly stating that in the PHB, though I could well be wrong and may have just glanced over it given I know it already.

 

The DMG on the otherhand lists D&D minis and D&D floorplans as a "needed" tool. I don't know why it conflicts with the PHB in this way, maybe it's sort of like "your DM will bring it" or something.

 

So yeah, going by the books, it looks like mini's are pretty much needed mainly because of so many things being expressed in squares. I guess you could substitute with graph paper and counters or something though.

 

Eeeewwwwwwwwwwwww! That's one of my pet peeves with the original Traveller combat system, that everything was expressed as abstract range bands. Unless you actually are using minis, it makes it hard to translate the distances involved when they use an abstract term.

 

When the rules descrive everything as a distance (whether it's feet or meters only matters based on the players) and a GM tells a player "he's about 50 feet/meters away", the player gets a mental image of about how far that is compared to things they know.

 

When a GM uses a mini to show the player the enemy is 10 squares away on a gaming mat, again, the player has a good mental image, as long as the system either describes things in the same units, or there is a known conversion - like 5ft = 1 square.

 

But when you're trying to mentally envision things, and all the system uses is squares - that's going to cause problems, simply because everyone has to make translations in their heads at one point or another.

 

I can see the advantages to using it for their online gaming environment, but still - yuck!

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Well, to be fair, the original D&D convention was to give ranges and movement rates and the like in inches, where the conversion from inches to real distances depended on whether you were indoors or outdoors. (1" = 10 feet indoors; 1" = 10 yards outdoors)

 

And arguably, specifying distances in units used by 6% (or so) of the population of the planet is actually less useful than using a more abstract measurement scheme like "squares". (Even though I'm part of the 6%.)

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Doug made a very valid point. The rules give units of measure as 'squares,' but players can substitute whatever they want if they'd prefer actual measurements.

 

If one group imagines 1 square=5', another 1 square=2 meters, and another 1square=5 cubits, it doesn't matter. If the distances are called off in measurements other than squares, you just need to make sure the players all know the conversion being used.

 

Visualization of what is happening is one of the hardest things for a lot of players to do, so miniatures help that quite a bit. Reaper gives us lots of cool miniatures to use, so it can be fun to do so.

 

That said, nothing in the rules forces a group to use the square system. That was true with the original D&D, and it stays true for any RPG. It puts more work on the DM, because they have to track everything for everyone, but it is functional for 4th.

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[*]Everyone now has the same chance to hit

[*]Everyone has more hit points

 

[*]recovery of 1/4 of hit points after an encounter

 

you can cast (Magic Misille) as many times as needed during the course of a day.

 

I've heard enough, thanks. If I want a game with cheat codes, I'll play Mechwarrior.

 

The only thing I'm mildly curious about is whether or not they explain the logic behind being able to cast some spells as many times a day as you want, but only once for a particular "encounter", or if they just leave it as a silly game mechanic with no logic behind it.

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[*]Everyone now has the same chance to hit

[*]Everyone has more hit points

 

[*]recovery of 1/4 of hit points after an encounter

 

you can cast (Magic Misille) as many times as needed during the course of a day.

 

I've heard enough, thanks. If I want a game with cheat codes, I'll play Mechwarrior.

 

The only thing I'm mildly curious about is whether or not they explain the logic behind being able to cast some spells as many times a day as you want, but only once for a particular "encounter", or if they just leave it as a silly game mechanic with no logic behind it.

The same logic that allowed a limited number of castings for spells could still apply, but the limits were raised.

 

Simple spells you can cast as often as you like.

Slightly more powerful spells are limited by encounter, and you regain your focus between encounters.

Powerful spells can be limited to a different number of times per day, depending on the power level.

 

The only real differences are that magic users never completely run out of spells, and they don't have to guess which low powered spells will matter that day.

Only basic spells are at will, the others are still limited.

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The only thing I'm mildly curious about is whether or not they explain the logic behind being able to cast some spells as many times a day as you want, but only once for a particular "encounter", or if they just leave it as a silly game mechanic with no logic behind it.

 

Actually, I don't think being able to cast a minor damage spell all the time is actually a bad thing. It just depends how it's done

 

For example, the Necromancer class in Heroes of Horror had Charnal Touch, it was a necrotic touch of death ability the necromancer could use in combat as much as they liked, but it wasn't an overpowering OMG BOOM LOL U EXPLODE level of magic. It was just a sort of sinister magical touch that could harm you.

 

They introduced similar things in Complate... Mage? with those reserve spells. I don't mind an always usable minor magic spell that the magic types can rely on, so long as it doesn't overpower all else.

 

But then I'm a low magic fan I suppose. Other people have different preferences.

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Are they gonna do an open gaming license with this edition? I don't play D&D, and haven't in probably 15 years, but I was just curious.

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Each (MMORPGs and PnP RPGs) has also drawn from the other as long as both have existed.

 

I don't agree with that at all. Do you have any evidence to back that statement up?

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Well, to be fair, the original D&D convention was to give ranges and movement rates and the like in inches, where the conversion from inches to real distances depended on whether you were indoors or outdoors. (1" = 10 feet indoors; 1" = 10 yards outdoors)

 

And arguably, specifying distances in units used by 6% (or so) of the population of the planet is actually less useful than using a more abstract measurement scheme like "squares". (Even though I'm part of the 6%.)

Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Definitely shows it's wargaming roots. Hmm, now that I've actually wargamed a bit, I wonder if my objections to Traveller's range band system would go away? My objection against the squares system they've switched to is more from my experience with other players, as I've always been good at visualizing distances and spatial relationships. For most things, as a GM, I'd be able to calculate things on the fly. The only issues my players would have is if they had problems translating their own weapon ranges/etc. Minis would take care of that, but I don't always use minis for my combat situations. Still, not a reason to hate the system, it's something I could live with, even if I dislike it it's not a deal breaker.

 

I'd actually prefer if more game systems started using the metric system, although for a fantasy game, the old "imperial" system seems more "real", if you want to use that as a justification for catering to the 6%.

 

Anyway, just got back from the book store, where I had my first chance to actually peruse 4e. First thing that really struck me, and will probably stick with me for awhile is the layout. I have never seen a previous version of D&D that is so well organized and easy to find things in. Other than that, I had a few other random thoughts as I flipped through the PHB and the DMG:

 

- I know the decisions to include/not include certain races/classes in the core books has been a controversial one. I'm not taking sides on that controversy, but flipping through the pages, those decisions just made things in the book seem off or wrong - like it wasn't a D&D book I was looking thru, but some other game system. That's more of a gut feeling though, rather than a reason to dislike it.

 

- I really don't like the spells being rolled into the classes as class abilities. I prefer spells be seperate entities - it makes customizing my campaign world easier by being able to focus on the spells I want banned or changed.

 

- OTH, I like the fact that clerics and wizards don't have to worry about choosing their spells each day. I've always preferred the spontaneous method of casting.

 

- I like the fact that they seem to have finally gotten rid of spell components.

 

- did I mention I really liked the layout and organization?

 

- I didn't like that they included the XP chart and Magic Items in the PHB. Not that I've ever hid that info from my players, but I just feel that's GM material.

 

- The whole idea of Rituals being usable by anyone bothers me. That goes against the low magic style of campaigns that I prefer. Which is one of the reasons I don't particularly care for D&D in the first place, I guess.

 

- I was disappointed that the DMG was smaller than the PHB. But that's probably due to them moving XP and Magic Items there.

 

- I'm of mixed feelings on the encounter design system. On one hand, they make it REAL easy to design balanced encounters. OTH, it looked too formulaic for me. There seemed to be some types of encounters that weren't easy to do - like sending hordes of low level orcs against a small party of high level PCs. Of course, I didn't spend more than 15 minutes browsing that section, so I'm sure I didn't get more than a brief impression of it.

 

- oh yeah, the layout. I really liked that.

 

Anyway, that's my two cents. I see how it will appeal to some people, and to them I say "go for it!". To others, I say "stick with 3.5" or "Try a different system".

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