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D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)


I like to know if somebody, who has actual played the fourth edition, can help me, with some answers. Last weekend I picked up a copy of ‘World & Monsters’ and like before I found myself agreeing with the thoughts of the designers. It irritated me so much that I checked immediately my copy of the Players Handbook to see where I went wrong. But I couldn’t get my hand on it. Our group tried to Keep of Shadowfell and it was nothing else but a boardgame with charactersheets. It seemed to me that every encounter has to be played on a battlegrid. This divided the game into parts of tactical boardgame and roleplay if there was no grid (like the village). Do I miss an important point?


You can roleplay it all you like; the grid only has to come out when your group actually start hitting monsters with sticks.

Where the scenario assumes that your group will start hitting monsters with sticks, there's a grid. If the sticks come out somewhere else, you need to put your own grid together.

Taldor

Well it does seem to be largley based on the D&D minis game, so what did you expect? If you are disappointed on the lack of non-combat stuff and the overly gamist feel of combat, you're not alone. You and your group are going to have to work extra hard to get that non-combat stuff in the game. The current modules have a dearth of role-playing opportunities, and the rules do seem to focus heavily on combat. You might like 3.5 or Pathfinder better.


piers wrote:

You can roleplay it all you like; the grid only has to come out when your group actually start hitting monsters with sticks.

Where the scenario assumes that your group will start hitting monsters with sticks, there's a grid. If the sticks come out somewhere else, you need to put your own grid together.

I know what you mean, but that is my problem. How much surprise is there to an ambush if you put an battlegrid on the table? And it seems to me that to start an ambush without grid is nearly impossible.

Like I said maybe I don't understand some of the basics not correctly.


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
Well it does seem to be largley based on the D&D minis game, so what did you expect? If you are disappointed on the lack of non-combat stuff and the overly gamist feel of combat, you're not alone. You and your group are going to have to work extra hard to get that non-combat stuff in the game. The current modules have a dearth of role-playing opportunities, and the rules do seem to focus heavily on combat. You might like 3.5 or Pathfinder better.

I'm a experienced gamemaster and I found out that sometimes a game is 'misunderstood'. Some games have certain knacks that only by playing them could be found. Maybe this edition is just gamist and minis, but it seems to me like I have something overlooked.


Verminlord wrote:
How much surprise is there to an ambush if you put an battlegrid on the table? And it seems to me that to start an ambush without grid is nearly impossible.

Mark it out on graph paper with starting positions and play out the encounter on the Graph Paper for the Surprise round. Then, draw it out. If some of the player's are not surprised, let them see what's going on. Move the people that are surprised to a different room if need be.


Verminlord wrote:

How much surprise is there to an ambush if you put an battlegrid on the table? And it seems to me that to start an ambush without grid is nearly impossible.

Like I said maybe I don't understand some of the basics not correctly.

Ah, I see what you mean.

The way we played an ambush was passive perception checks in the first instance - success means the battlemap comes out with the characters at the edge of the grid and knew something was wrong, while a failure meant the characters were in the middle of the grid and the monsters get a surprise round.


We also assumed that once the monsters attack, the grid comes out to play the surprise round.

Monsters get get to roll initiative among themselves and take their surprise attack, then characters roll initiative and slot in for the first real round of combat.

Taldor

That seems reasonable. The original post kind of confused me. I thought that he was asking if he was doing something wrong because the game felt like a boardgame with character sheets, when he really just wanted to know when to break out the battlemat.


Verminlord wrote:

How much surprise is there to an ambush if you put an battlegrid on the table? And it seems to me that to start an ambush without grid is nearly impossible.

Like I said maybe I don't understand some of the basics not correctly.

Well, remember that the players and the characters are two different things. The players may know there's an ambush comming as you are setting up a battle grid, but their characters still have no idea what's about to happen. That's roleplaying. This is how it would work in 3.5...

As your describing that the characters are walking along a country road, you make players roll spot checks. Two of the six rolls high enough to spot a kobold hiding in the tall grass not far from the road.

You set up the combat grid. And make everyone roll for initiative. For the surprise round, all the kobolds and the two players who succeeded their spot checks have a partial action (either an attack, a move, or some other action like retreive a potion from their backpack). Those who failed their spot checks do nothing.

Once the surprise round is over, then round 1 starts, with all the participants acting in order of initiative.

So even though the players are well aware of the grid and that a fight is about to start... Their characters are oblivious of the emminent danger.

Hope that helps.

Ultradan


It truly frustrates me when I hear the complaint that 4e does not facilitate roleplaying. NO GAME DOES without the proper mix of players and GM, in my estimation.

I am currently running a group through a 4e homebrew, they are knocking on the door of 5th level.

Our last session lasted 6 hours. We ran 1 encounter. The rest was RP, double-dealing, PCs arguing (in character), and a semi-successful rescue of a halfling they all hate. It was one of the most fun sessions I've DM'd. Again 6 hours one encounter.

I agree that 4e does make grid battle easier and more engaging, but that is not a bad thing and it only comes at the cost of RP time if the group makes it happen.

Just like every other version of D&D what your character can do is only limited by your imagination and ambition.

Edit: To the OP, I now have actually read your comments and my above bluster seems out of place. Sorry to threadjack, but the need to vent overcame me. The above is not aimed at anyone on this thread or elsewhere, just a general releasing of steam.


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
That seems reasonable. The original post kind of confused me. I thought that he was asking if he was doing something wrong because the game felt like a boardgame with character sheets, when he really just wanted to know when to break out the battlemat.

Well, yes and no. I appreciate your posts. I helps a lot to hear some ideas which doesn't make things to predictable. The battlemap finds a lot of use already im my gaming, but using it always seems to limit my options somehow. The whole world is now in grids ;) When you design an adventure, are you transfering everything to a grid?

Taldor

The grid should only be necessary during combat encounters, and possilby some encounters with traps and environmental hazards. It shouldn't be necessary the rest of the time. Basically, if there is an in game reason for you to know the exact postition of things, you need the mat. If the PC's are walking into an ambush, you will need it once initiative is rolled. If they are talking to the town guards at the gate or haggling over the price of something, you shouldn't need it unless there is a good reason for the NPC's become hostile or the PC's pick a fight.


as in do I keep in mind the rough spacial dimensions?

Yes, Roughly. Its not all planned out and drew but I knew that the wrafton inn for example is about 60 by 30 longish with more tables by the windows which are on the street side and a bar running most of its length? The name reminded me of some place in montreal, and boom here it is.

As in do I draw a combat grid for everything that the pc's do ever.

No, too much time for too little result.

Am I keeping the combat grid up in the dungeon?

Yep, Just like I did in 3.x

Does little boxes under my mini's feet somehow prevent roleplaying?

Nope, but its contentious, I'm doing a double blind study to make sure that the little squares don't trigger some sort of mammalian instinct to hit stuff with sticks. This would be known as the Ikea affect, originally observed by the initial glee and then forevermore loathing of ikeas once you know pick up on the smallish sweedish square patterns repeated threwout the store.

L


Verminlord wrote:

Well, yes and no. I appreciate your posts. I helps a lot to hear some ideas which doesn't make things to predictable. The battlemap finds a lot of use already im my gaming, but using it always seems to limit my options somehow. The whole world is now in grids ;) When you design an adventure, are you transfering everything to a grid?

You mentioned you were an experienced DM; what games have you DMed for? Did you use a battlemap/minis in those games, or something else?

If you're familiar with the use of minis and a map, you should be able to bring your same approach over to 4E. If not, perhaps you should discuss with your players about your desire for them to not use metagame knowledge (the grid is setup, so we must have a battle near!) to determine their characters actions.

You could always try running things without a grid just using a piece of paper, but it will be pretty difficult (to me, this sounds like more work than it would be worth, but some do it so it must be rewarding for them.)

Hope that helps! Sorry if the suggestions are a little vague ... I'm having trouble understanding precisely what is bothering you.

Cheers! :)


David Marks wrote:


Hope that helps! Sorry if the suggestions are a little vague ... I'm having trouble understanding precisely what is bothering you.

Cheers! :)

Even if I dm'ed dozens of rpg's we started to use a battlemap just a little while ago. (With the start of the Pathfinder campaign)

The problem is that I think that there are really a lot of good ideas, but I can't get a grip on them. My group enjoys a mixture of riddles, combats and social rp. Some of them want to use a battlemap, some of them don't. When we tried KoS it seemed that the characters could only fight and do little else. Everything seemed very secondary. The use of the everpresent battlemap seemed to say the same thing. But I feel that this first impression is wrong, but couldn't tell how it works any other way. So I hope that you enlighten me. (no sarcasm)


Verminlord wrote:


The problem is that I think that there are really a lot of good ideas, but I can't get a grip on them. My group enjoys a mixture of riddles, combats and social rp. Some of them want to use a battlemap, some of them don't. When we tried KoS it seemed that the characters could only fight and do little else. Everything seemed very secondary. The use of the everpresent battlemap seemed to say the same thing. But I feel that this first impression is wrong, but couldn't tell how it works any other way. So I hope that you enlighten me. (no sarcasm)

First off, KotS (Keep on the Shadowfell, which I assume you mean) is a very combat heavy module. It can be fun, if you enjoy such things, but if you want more RPing and riddles, you might have to put some elbow grease into things to add them in. My group is currently playing the module and having fun, but I'll admit it has been more combat than not so far.

Did you use a battlemap before, or is this your first time trying it? You could possibly try converting some older modules that you enjoyed to give the system a test drive, or possibly writing a small stand alone adventure on your own to see things from the RP/riddle side of the 4E fence.

In particular, maybe check out the new Skill Challenge system and see what your group thinks about that. You don't have to use it every time your group gets involved in RP/riddles (and in fact, you shouldn't!) but when appropriate it lets characters show off their specialties, and their wits.

Cheers! :)

Edit: I see you added some info into your post. I might not be too much help on really incorporating the battlemap into your play unfortunately ... I've used a battlemap and minis to play from the very beginning with DnD, way back in 2E, so I'd probably have more problems playing without a battlemap!

You could try not drawing a map or putting any minis down until either A) hostilities have commenced or B) your players begin asking for a precise view of where everyone is (because they either suspect hostilities are about to commence, or plan on commencing them themselves ...)

Cheers, again! :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

On the battlemap issue: personally, one of my battlemats is semi-permanently taped to the table, so it's always there. In a surprise round, I put the PCs where they're at and have them get jumped by whatever happens to be jumping them today.

'Course my players love a good fight, so they're pretty excited to get to smash something. I mean, RP is good and all, and I've got some great role-players, but a goodly portion of the game for us is the weekly stress release of pretending to hit something upside the face with a longsword or a magic missile.

4e does have role-playing rules, but my group's not as into some of the aspects of role-playing based skill challenges, so I play is fast and loose with 'em, pretty much like I did with previous editions. If it takes a few Bluff or Diplomacy rolls to get Mr. So-And-So to go with what the PCs are saying, so be it. If it seems like a one-roll check, we'll do it that way.

That being said, it seems the WoTC modules made so far are pretty combat heavy. One can put in a lot of role-playing (when I ran KotS, I wrote up personalities for the NPCs in town, and the group had a blast yakking with them in the bar from time to time), but as written, there's very little in the adventure.


Verminlord wrote:
Our group tried to Keep of Shadowfell and it was nothing else but a boardgame with charactersheets.

This is a property of Keep on the Shadowfell. Keep in mind that it came out BEFORE the core books were released. That's why it has the quickstart rules.

It wasn't meant to show off anything other than the tactical aspects of the game.

Also it wasn't written by WotC's strongest adventure writers, if you catch my drift.


Thanks for your help. One more question, how do you handle encounters? As some powers are tied to encounters, are they avaible everytime or do you say to your players when it is encounter time. It seemed a little bit artificial when we tried it, like go-rest-go-rest-go-rest.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I guess it is up to the DM to determine when they get their encounter powers, but what you describe is more-or-less accurate. Arguably, it isn't terribly different from the daily sleep to get yout spells back - when exactly in the night do they "pop back" into the head?

On the general question, I haven't really found any real difference between the table experience of 3.5 and 4e - they both feel pretty similar in terms of the way it works even if there are differences in what the charatcers can do. And the battlemat is always there in my game. If there is a criticism of 4e, it is that it is much less amenable to playing without a battlemat than 3.5, given that certain powers move enemies around the grid by set amounts. It isn't a problem for me, since we use one, but I know others feel that it cramps the imagination if you do.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
I guess it is up to the DM to determine when they get their encounter powers, but what you describe is more-or-less accurate. Arguably, it isn't terribly different from the daily sleep to get yout spells back - when exactly in the night do they "pop back" into the head?

Most of the spells requires some action besides sleeping, like praying, memorizing etc. But the game mechanic is not a problem, it is more about to sell it to the player. If a group catch their breath after a fight and reorganize themselves then this is believable, but if somebody uses a encounter power and rest 5 minutes, use the encounter power and rest, ad infinitum, then it stretches the internal logic. So I like to know how you handle this.

Qadira

Verminlord wrote:

I know what you mean, but that is my problem. How much surprise is there to an ambush if you put an battlegrid on the table? And it seems to me that to start an ambush without grid is nearly impossible.

Like I said maybe I don't understand some of the basics not correctly.

Verminlord, it may be time for you to go "old school..."

One of the problems I've experienced with earlier versions of D&D had a lot to do with metagaming - case in point: Elf has X% chance (can't remember now - too sick and too tired to look it up) of spotting a secret door, even if not actively searching. DM rolls the dice, everyone at the table gives each other a meaningful glance and all of a sudden you have everyone actively searching for a secret door. It was an unfortunate byproduct, and you can fuss at the players all you want to, but in the end you weren't surprising anyone.

The solution? Start rolling dice all the time! Pretty soon, they stopped paying attention to the DM rolling dice and got back to roll-playing.

If you're having a problem with surprising your players, you can take a few actions:

#1) The battle mat is ALWAYS out. Every now and then take time to draw the corridors, etc, whether there is action or not. Pretty soon the dogs stop salivating when you go to write something out.

#2) Have your party establish a "patrol formation" - a considered default of where everyone is at on any given moment. When you jump your party, simply drop the figures out, describe the scene, and then draw in the walls, adjusting figure positions as needed during the wall drawing (hey - they were so surprised by the jump that they got confused who was where.) Do this AFTER the first round of combat, using their own impatience to add tension to the situation.

Other than that, there probably aren't a whole lot of other options, and none of them perfect. It's your skill at storytelling and adventure leading that is going to catch them by surprise - and your taking time to paint the picture on the battle grid is only going to heighten the suspense.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Verminlord wrote:
Most of the spells requires some action besides sleeping, like praying, memorizing etc. But the game mechanic is not a problem, it is more about to sell it to the player. If a group catch their breath after a fight and reorganize themselves then this is believable, but if somebody uses a encounter power and rest 5 minutes, use the encounter power and rest, ad infinitum, then it stretches the internal logic. So I like to know how you handle this.

It probably depends on the players. My guys have never actually commented on it. I take your point (4e seems more blatanty "gamist", not really worrying WHY things work but just what they do, and making it convenient to run rather than trying to give the impression there is some underlying, explanatory mechanic) but that might be something you and your guys either accommodate as seems reasonable, or don't (and maybe play something else). The character powers in general are by far the biggest obstacle to "getting" and accepting 4e if you are used to earlier editions of the game, in my view, given what a radical departure they are - they bother me too.


Verminlord wrote:
If a group catch their breath after a fight and reorganize themselves then this is believable, but if somebody uses a encounter power and rest 5 minutes, use the encounter power and rest, ad infinitum, then it stretches the internal logic. So I like to know how you handle this.

We read it as: any time you get to stop and catch your breath. So, yep, a minute, five minutes, an hour... as long as a fresh encounter doesn't come bang-on-the-heels of the last one. And you can keep using them ad infintitum as long as you get a chance to catch your breath.

In my head, at least, you get your encounter powers back as soon as you've stopped panting.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
...but that might be something you and your guys either accommodate as seems reasonable, or don't (and maybe play something else)...

I have enough RPG's to play to the end of time, I can always choose something different. I see in 4th ed. a real try to make something better, something different. I like the design ideas, but I can't connect some of the ideas to the final rules. More then once somebody could 'translate' it, so I can understand, how it works. But I think I get it slowly how it is actually working. So please bear with my questions.


I eventually ran the first encounter from the Kots and the three players said they enjoyed it.

Have to admit I was surprised but then I guess I expect too much.

They thought it was great a wizard didn't have to rest all day to regain their spells, but only time will see if they still like 4e the next part I get to run.

Only have the phb and the kots, have played 4e in an online game where the usual problems of team work in a new group are cropping up, I'm not as eager to engage a giant at 1st level as everybody else!

I'm playing a human warlord, suspect I should have picked tactical instead of inspiring, the grid works fine as long as you can see it.

I'd have thought playing in person would work fine, but am still leery of the way they claimed to be going back to basics and yet ignored what has come before if not putting down earlier editions although I assumed whoever came up with that was an idiot.

I can't help thinking this would work better if they split it into three sets, the heroic age ala the basic set, the paragon tier for the expert and for the epic tier the masters set.

It would have removed all those items low level pc's can't use and the space this would have created might have allowed maybe another race to be added, still don't understand why they put the magic items in the phb since do we really need to know what they do?

Anyway this thread is an interesting read, hope I haven't scotched things by going off topic.

Osirion

Question away. I love 4th, and I can understand the confusion. Some things that may help you understand some of the questions you've posted:

* Using a battle mat. I've been using one for the last couple of years. I don't have an issue with surprise rounds as I keep the mat down all the time. Everyone has a default layout (unless one member or another has decided to wander a bit outside of it) to use. If they're suprised, I put the party on the mat rather than the player's and run the suprise round adding each monster as it attacks. The ways powers are written and speeds and the like, you are far better off with the mat. But if you and your players can actually figure a good way to keep it all in your head, the basic conversion is 1 square is 5 feet. Trust me, though. The mat is the better option.

* Preventing foreknowledge. The advice already given about going old school and constantly rolling is a good one. It's also good stress relief when the players are going in the opposite direction of what you had hoped they would. ;)

* In regards to regaining encounter powers, all that's needed is a short rest (pg. 263 of the PHB if you need a reference point). Roughly five minutes of time and all is good to go.

* Roleplaying. I wouldn't go so far as to call 4th completely gamist. The rules tend to be more gamist than simulationist, but it was also geared for more high action. It certainly doesn't need to be played that way if you don't want it to be. The skill challenge system is a useful tool, but isn't required.

* My biggest recommendation, however you choose to run your game, is to read pages 120 to 123 of the DMG. One of my favorite additions to the game is the information here - actual good guidelines for handing out xp that isn't combat related. Minor and Major quest rewards will go a long way to supporting a game that has less to do with combat and more to do with puzzles, roleplaying, riddles, and the like. Players can actually go up levels without ever drawing a weapon (though that would be a tad unrealistic).

Good luck and have fun!
Arovyn

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
...but that might be something you and your guys either accommodate as seems reasonable, or don't (and maybe play something else)...
Verminlord wrote:
I have enough RPG's to play to the end of time, I can always choose something different. I see in 4th ed. a real try to make something better, something different. I like the design ideas, but I can't connect some of the ideas to the final rules. More then once somebody could 'translate' it, so I can understand, how it works. But I think I get it slowly how it is actually working. So please bear with my questions.

I agree. Despite what the nay-sayers may think, 4e strikes me as designed for maximum playability, by players for players. I think the problem arises in that the mechanics seem almost out in the open, intruding into the game world, rather than lying in the background with some in-game justifications and camouflage. (I hope that makes sense.) Either way, I don't think that there is much that can be done about it - it is the nature of the game. Some people can't stomach it, but I probably can (and will have to anyway - my players want to play it).


Verminlord wrote:

Most of the spells requires some action besides sleeping, like praying, memorizing etc. But the game mechanic is not a problem, it is more about to sell it to the player. If a group catch their breath after a fight and reorganize themselves then this is believable, but if somebody uses a encounter power and rest 5 minutes, use the encounter power and rest, ad infinitum, then it stretches the internal logic. So I like to know how you handle this.

Just as you imagine combat not as "Joe Fighter moves up and hits Bob Orc. Bob Orc hits Joe Fighter and moves away" but instead as "Joe Fighter runs up swinging furiously at Bob Orc as Bob Orc beats a defensive retreat from the charging Human" it is probably best not to think of it as "Healing Word, Healing Word, 5 minute rest. Healing Word, Healing Word, 5 minute rest" but "Over the next 10 minutes as every catches their breath, adjusts their armor's buckles and cleans their weapons, Jill Cleric tends to the various cuts and scrapes about the party."

That is, instead of breaking it into discreet rest periods, visualize it as one long rest period with several things happening during it.

Cheers! :)


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:


I agree. Despite what the nay-sayers may think, 4e strikes me as designed for maximum playability, by players for players. I think the problem arises in that the mechanics seem almost out in the open, intruding into the game world, rather than lying in the background with some in-game justifications and camouflage. (I hope that makes sense.) Either way, I don't think that there is much that can be done about it - it is the nature of the game. Some people can't stomach it, but I probably can (and will have to anyway - my players want to play it).

I think you are right here. Many of the nay-sayers complain about how 'Gamist' the new edition is, as opposed to 'Simulationist'.

I feel this is a pointless arguement, since D&D has never been a good Simulationist system. D&D has never been a acurate simulation of a medieval fantasy world. Perhaps that was what it was intended to be, back in the very begining, but it never acheived that goal. It has always been a Gamist system with a serious Narrativist bent.

In 4th edition, the designers have simply recognized that fact and worked toward that goal. The rules of the game which have always been a part of what D&D is are simply out in the open and talked about more then they used to be.

Breaking the classes into the four roles caused a huge amount of anger, but those roles were always there. As you put it, they were simply lurking in the background. They were camouflaged by the idea of what the classical fantasy adventuring party was. The fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric have always been the archtype of what a party was. Now they are simply described by their roles of defender, striker, controller, and leader.

And they put a serious amount of work into the Narritive style of gaming in the DMG. Things like xp for quests and xp for skill based challenges reduce the combat only portion of the game. Then, they spent pages and pages talking about how you run a roleplaying game. They talked about the different kinds of play styles, and the different types of player. That is a huge improvement in the narritive aspects of the game.


David Marks wrote:


...it is probably best not to think of it as "Healing Word, Healing Word, 5 minute rest. Healing Word, Healing Word, 5 minute rest" but "Over the next 10 minutes as every catches their breath, adjusts their armor's buckles and cleans their weapons, Jill Cleric tends to the various cuts and scrapes about the party."

That is, instead of breaking it into discreet rest periods, visualize it as one long rest period with several things happening during it.

Cheers! :)

As my parties cleric I've been doing this because of the extra hps gained. But after last session I've started to reconsider the tactic. The problem is 90% of the time its great. I use healing word again and again and the PCs get some extra hps - hopefully reducing the number of healing surges they have to spend.

However last session my DM made a roll while we were resting - I have no idea what the roll was for but it might have been for random encounters. Thing is that scared the bejeezus out of me. If we enter a combat thats at all hard and I don't have healing word, because I'm in the middle of a short rest having used the power outside of combat, we are really in trouble. Healing Word is a big chunk of the parties healing ability in a combat and I don't want to get into a combat without it. Especially because I think I'm the slowest player in the group and its pretty hard to run away at this point, we don't currently have anything that will block up a passage and lots of monsters go faster then me.

In 4E this is a huge deal, in 3.5 you'd take a double move and the monsters would have too as well, so they could not take a shot at you. In 4E the mechanics here are a little different. I can take a double move but the person chasing me can easily take a move action and then take a charge action - meaning they get a swing at me every single round until I eventually die. I can only really escape if I'm actually physically faster then the bad guys and can simply out run them. If they are even slightly faster then me they'll cut me down.


Teiran wrote:


I think you are right here. Many of the nay-sayers complain about how 'Gamist' the new edition is, as opposed to 'Simulationist'.

I feel this is a pointless arguement, since D&D has never been a good Simulationist system. D&D has never been a acurate simulation of a medieval fantasy world. Perhaps that was what it was intended to be, back in the very begining, but it never acheived that goal. It has always been a Gamist system with a serious Narrativist bent.

Take a look at 1st edition. It's gamist in ways 4e couldn't even begin to approach. Movement rates were listed in terms of how many inches a particular kind of character or monster could move on the battlemap. D&D was a modified miniatures wargame and didn't try to be anything else until those LARP-style vampire games came along.

Tell people to go back and read Gary Gygax's articles in Dragon magazine. He goes on and on about how the "new style" of D&D with its emphasis on roleplaying and storytelling is NOT D&D.

Not only is 4e D&D, it goes back to the roots of D&D.

Note: I'm not saying that 3e/Pathfinder aren't D&D, just saying that the "4e isn't D&D because it's too gamist" argument doesn't hold water unless you change your definition of D&D.

Qadira

TheNewGuy wrote:
Note: I'm not saying that 3e/Pathfinder aren't D&D, just saying that the "4e isn't D&D because it's too gamist" argument doesn't hold water unless you change your definition of D&D.

Yep. Spot on.


Again thanks to you guys. I think I get the idea. :)

Taldor

Teiran wrote:
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:


I agree. Despite what the nay-sayers may think, 4e strikes me as designed for maximum playability, by players for players. I think the problem arises in that the mechanics seem almost out in the open, intruding into the game world, rather than lying in the background with some in-game justifications and camouflage. (I hope that makes sense.) Either way, I don't think that there is much that can be done about it - it is the nature of the game. Some people can't stomach it, but I probably can (and will have to anyway - my players want to play it).

I think you are right here. Many of the nay-sayers complain about how 'Gamist' the new edition is, as opposed to 'Simulationist'.

I feel this is a pointless arguement, since D&D has never been a good Simulationist system. D&D has never been a acurate simulation of a medieval fantasy world. Perhaps that was what it was intended to be, back in the very begining, but it never acheived that goal. It has always been a Gamist system with a serious Narrativist bent.

In 4th edition, the designers have simply recognized that fact and worked toward that goal. The rules of the game which have always been a part of what D&D is are simply out in the open and talked about more then they used to be.

Breaking the classes into the four roles caused a huge amount of anger, but those roles were always there. As you put it, they were simply lurking in the background. They were camouflaged by the idea of what the classical fantasy adventuring party was. The fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric have always been the archtype of what a party was. Now they are simply described by their roles of defender, striker, controller, and leader.

And they put a serious amount of work into the Narritive style of gaming in the DMG. Things like xp for quests and xp for skill based challenges reduce the combat only portion of the game. Then, they spent pages and pages talking about how you run a roleplaying game. They talked about the...

I don't think anyone is proposing that D&D hasn't always been gamist to a degree, but 4E has taken the gamism to a whole new level. The game mechanics and metagame thinking are in your face like a glowing neon sign. The paladin's divine challenge, non-magical healing from the encouraging words of the warlord, the wizard's self-deleting spellbook, reliable dailies that are only "reliable" until you connect with them, and ranges in squares instead of feet. These are just a sampling of 4E's many overbearing gamist elements. They detract from immersion into the game world and are detremental to an RPG. They might work good for D&D Minis, but aren't so great for D&D the RPG.

Taldor

In short, I'm not complaining about gamism in 4E, since any RPG needs some gamism to be playable. It's the degree of gamism I object to. 4E takes the gamism dial and turns it to 11.


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
In short, I'm not complaining about gamism in 4E, since any RPG needs some gamism to be playable. It's the degree of gamism I object to. 4E takes the gamism dial and turns it to 11.

Fine - but the amount of gamism that is desirable is a pretty subjective thing and how obtrusive any level of gamism is is also completely subjective. Beyond these two points what one does to deal with offending gamism is also pretty much group dependent and can vary depending on each groups approach to the situation.

In the end we are asking how much realism one wants in their game and how far one can stray from realism before things fall down. I find it interesting that both 4E and PfRPG tend to be moving toward gamism when compared to 3.5 - now PfRPG is making baby steps in this regards while 4E made leaps but their both moving toward gamism and 3.5 is not particularly simulationist compared to many RPGs out there.

In any case I'm personally fine with the amount of gamism on offer. I'll devise explanations for some of the stranger aspects and others don't even need that much. Paladins Divine Challenge is gamist - but hardly outside of what 'magic' can do. Its little more then a different take on the class.

Beyond all this gamism is probably good for D&D. Dungeons and Dragons should be a pretty gamist system in order to attract new recruits. Those that get snagged in but soon find that the game is 'to much of a game' for them can continue on deeper into the hobby where there will be better offerings for them. Hard Core realism however will just scare off many potential recruits.

Taldor

I don't really see how Pathfinder is more gamist than 3.5 except for the ki and rage points for the barbarian and monk, which I do not care for. It is subjective. For some, a lot of gamism is desirable. For others, it's a deal breaker.


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
I don't really see how Pathfinder is more gamist than 3.5 except for the ki and rage points for the barbarian and monk, which I do not care for. It is subjective. For some, a lot of gamism is desirable. For others, it's a deal breaker.

I'm sure you can find more if you spend some time at it. Stuff like Silver Weapons no longer doing less damage etc. Now PfRPGs gamism is baby steps. Its more an issue of 'if a rule is changed it is either just as gamist as the previous rule in 3.5 or its more gamist.' Almost never is something changed in order to be more simulationist.


If you actually want MEDIEVAL RPGs, Pendragon can NOT be beat.

That said, there's absolutely no way I would use that system for a D&D style adventre.


Now we tried 4e for a second time and thanks to you guys it was much better. The solution was to divide between mechanics and fluff. As the players recognized the rules as pure mechanics and the use of it in combat only, things went smoothly. The greatest problem was to think differently. Interestingly some of the older players, who started in earlier eighties, got sentimental; it reminded them of old RPG’s.


Teiran wrote:

I think you are right here. Many of the nay-sayers complain about how 'Gamist' the new edition is, as opposed to 'Simulationist'.

I feel this is a pointless arguement, since D&D has never been a good Simulationist system.

You may well be right, Teiran, but I find that it is anything but a pointless argument. Would you not agree that - up until 4th edition - the direction *was* to make the game as realistic/simulationist as possible within its own framework of fantasy (Lord knows, sometimes to an almost unplayable fault)?

I began playing with the three little white boxed books in 1976. I have played, extensively, every edition since then. This is really the first time where I can detect a direct and profound shift *away* from attempting to simulate some sort of "reality" that can be related to some sort of "real world" context towards simply making rules because the limitations of that reality seemed to chafe at some.

THAT, I think, is something that sticks in the craw of many, and is why 4e is not getting the reception that I suspect WotC and many others thought it would. It is, to be sure, a profound shift for those of us who have been playing for years. Then again, we ain't their target customer anymore. :)

It is not at all a separate game, nor is it unworthy of the name (and other hyperbole) but in concept, its shift has made it in some ways a very *different* one.

And WotC did not handle introducing those differences very well.

That, of course, is another thread entirely.


TheNewGuy wrote:


Tell people to go back and read Gary Gygax's articles in Dragon magazine. He goes on and on about how the "new style" of D&D with its emphasis on roleplaying and storytelling is NOT D&D.

Yeah, and Gary was very very wrong. He once wrote, in the Dragon, (and Kim Mohan tried in his editorial to back him up as best he could) that you *had* to play AD%D with the rules published, and *ONLY* with the rules published, or else you were playing "something else". That was the infamous "Monopoly" article that caused so much fuss back before the internet. :)

So, Gary was wrong.

So too, are people who say that 4e is not D&D.

But just like Gary all those years ago, what they *should* be saying is that this new version is not **MY** D&D.

It's not.

Roleplaying as we know it today was foreign to Gygax and he reacted (although he certainly did tone things down subsequently).

The move from an attempt to simulate some sort of reality within the context of the rules (which was one of the main thrusts since those three little white/buff books) towards now having rules unsupported by "reality" simply because it makes the game "sleeker" or "faster" or "easier" (or whatever platitude/denigration you want to put on it) is foreign to many of us who have played the game since before many of the current players were born.

Gary eventually, I suspect, saw that the change to adding roleplaying to the game was inevitable (and it started long before White Wolf was incorporated, by the way) and that shouting against the wind was fruitless.

So too, I think, it will be with 4e. WotC no longer values that certain older segment of their previous customer base as much as they would like to recruit that phat younger MMO crowd. That is a fine business decision and one I cannot fault. That older crowd, however, has a right to comment and complain about that rejection. (And the manner in which they were rejected in the PR fiasco that introduced 4e) (The same thing overall, btw, happened with the switch from 2e to 3e, although to a smaller extent because 2e unlike 3e was about at the end of its life-cycle. We just didn't have the internet to lash out at one another then and the publications controlled which opinions were printed in their magazines for dissemination)

D&D 4e will never be "My D&D". That's okay. As long it is is **SOMEONES** D&D and the brand and the name remains strong, I will be happy.

I can still write, design and dream. I can still play *my* D&D.

And I can always venture down to my LGS and pull aside that kid who just finished his 4e session and whisper: "Hey kid, you wanna know about the *real* D&D? Elves are a character class. And THACO rules all".

:)


Good posts Bear. I mean I don't agree or anything but one can debate with something like your posts without degenerating into a flame war.

In any case I'm going to disagree with your contention that the idea was generally to make things more realistic. I think that was absolutely the goal of 1st edition but disagree with 2nd and 3rd.

By the time 2nd edition came out I think the goal of the game had fundamentally shifted from 'realism' toward story telling. There was the whole movement out of the Dungeon and toward role playing which was paramount. Realism and simulationism was very much second fiddle to good story telling throughout the life cycle of this edition and we see that strongly reflected not just in the offerings from Dungeon magazine but also in the campaign worlds that were developed for 2nd edition. Plane Scape is avante garde but not really 'gritty' or realistic. Spelljammer is also a pretty far cry from simulationist sword and sorcery. In fact the one world were gritty sword and sorcery gaming was paramount - Greyhawk, got very little support through the entire life cycle of 2nd edition.

3.x was a different take but again gritty sword and sorcery gaming does not appear to be the goal of the edition. Certainly higher level characters don't feel particularly simulationistic unless simulating half fiends dervishes with a dozens of attacks per round is some kind of simulation of classic swords and sorcery. We were also introduced to some of the most gamist aspects of the game in 3.x. Magic Shops, Wealth by Level, CRs and ELs, probably even the whole (re) introduction of miniatures are all profound shifts away from simulationistic gaming as it had existed in D&D up to that point. They are a mechanical realization of the direction the game had been moving toward from the beginning of 2nd edition.

4E, in most ways, does not actually introduce much thats really gamist compared to 3.x, what it does is take the concepts that are already on the table from 3.x and dial them up a notch. It also readily acknowledges their existance. Its not just that we have wealth by level and an encounter balancing system, since we had both of these in 3.x, its that now the characters and monsters power levels are specifically kept withing parameters that scale to these concepts and the whole game revolves around these parameters.

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