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Ah! I'd never heard of Thanks!

Hey, guys. I've jumped on board with Pathfinder and have left 4E behind, finally. I just got more and more disillusioned the further they moved down the path towards simplification and meta-gaming. Well, that's not the reason for this thread and I don't want to start a 4E vs. Pathfinder thing, just wanted to update my status from before when I used to post frequently.

So, I've been designing my own Dark Sun campaign based on Dark Sun but with the changes I've always wanted to make (no Halflings or Blue Age, for example). Now that I've decided to go with Pathfinder (8 books are now in the mail on the way to my home, yay!) I wanted to ask a question:

Has anyone used Elemental Priests, as in Dark Sun, in their campaigns? And, if so, has anyone out there divided up all the current spells into the Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Cosmos categories?

I'm wondering how to proceed and am not looking forward to making up my own spell lists with these categories and am wondering if someone out there may have already done the work and if they would be kind enough to share.

Either way, thanks! I'm really, really looking forward to running Pathfinder!

That's a nice monster. I'm still in the middle of KotS so I haven't begun developing my own monsters in earnest yet (I'm not running the other modules, just the first because it helped me get off the ground). I'm looking forward to creating a few, including a remake of the forvalaka from the Black Company books, with Elites as the normal members and a big Solo for the ancient one.

David Marks wrote:
Shroomy wrote:
BTW, Earthdawn 4e announced here.
Holy smokes! Dream upon dream! They just sold many many books! Whohoo!

Very good news, actually.

Joela, I wouldn't worry about it. Just post what you want to talk about and ignore the BS. I know that I try to just avoid the BS when possible (unless I'm in the mood to argue).

As a side note, I know that I haven't been posting much lately, but that's because I've joined 2 4E games besides running my own and still running my MERP/Rolemaster campaign, so I've been gaming a lot.

I'm curious if WotC has responded in any way to the negative feelings the GSL has inspired. Are they basically sitting pretty, smugly waiting for it to pass and hoping no one really notices, or are there several executives out there looking puzzled that there are some people who actually care about open gaming?

Either way, they need som pillow therapy.

Watcher wrote:
AZRogue wrote:
Mislead your customers and colleagues much?

This is so disappointing.

I was against 4E, because I was concerned about quality 3rd Party support, because I don't always like WOTC's adventures.

Shadowfell being a good example.

I took a gamble and bought the core books anyway, and I like the game. That's not an issue with me. I believed there would be 3rd Party support even if Paizo chose not to...

But this doesn't look like there can be quality 3rd Party Support.

That means 3 books that will sit on the shelf and likely be joined by no others like it.

Those are my thoughts as well. I like the system, but really need 3rd party support. By smugly issuing a poisoned GSL they've made sure that can't happen and so have ruined what could have been something great.

DudeMonkey wrote:
AZRogue wrote:
If the DDI had been released on time, or even put up in Beta form for feedback, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, but instead they put a "sometime in the future" stamp on it.
And then they released a license that prohibits competition.

Yeah. They can't do it themselves, and they'll make sure no one else can do it while they're struggling to prove to themselves that they still can't do it.

Basically, it just doesn't get done.

MerricB wrote:

Although I'm generally quite forgiving of Wizards - and I do like 4e - I'm astonished at the levels of stupidity involved in the GSL. I don't think it's all intentional. For instance, I really don't expect they meant the license to mean a later publication of theirs to make a bunch of previous products illegal due to unintentional name duplication. However, they should have. They really should have.

Someone upthread suggested that the license was really designed to only allow adventures to be written under the new system. Well, possibly. Unfortunately, by eliminating the ability to print the full stat-blocks of any monster or NPC that uses an ability from the core rulebooks, you really, really limit their usefulness.

Unbelievably stupid.

Clark Peterson has said on EN World that he's pretty sure that this license will kill dead his Tome of Horrors 4e (he's doing a full colour Pathfinder version? Cool!)

To be able to put Clark off-side with you is inventing new levels of stupidity that are beyond the dreams of wordsmiths in coming up with new terms to describe them!


Yes, they've pretty much went out of their way to make sure no one would go forward with 4E with them. Was it intentional? I don't think it matters at this point. If this is the best they can do than they shouldn't have even bothered. What makes it worse is that it goes against the bold promises they made when they announced 4E at GenCon originally. Mislead your customers and colleagues much?

They might want to rally people to use their DDI, but they aren't really capable of pulling it off. They've never made a good electronic aid and it doesn't look like that's changing. They might wish they could, and even try to, pull it off, but they always trip over their own feet doing it. If the DDI had been released on time, or even put up in Beta form for feedback, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, but instead they put a "sometime in the future" stamp on it.

It is an excellent article. I really love how they're including Paragon paths, feats, magical items, etc. in them, not to mention the format is great. Of course it was by Nick, it's one of the best to date.

Well, it might be back to Rolemaster. 3E is unplayable, for my group, though the OGL was brilliant and some games I do play were created using it, and 4E is exactly the kind of game I want, but I won't support WotC now any more than I would buy clubs for baby seal hunters. Not only did they screw the pooch, it was their best friend's dog and they did it in their mom's bed.

Shroomy wrote:
I don't think that the two-class restriction was instituted for simplicity sake (that is a side effect), but for role preserval. Even if you take every multi-class feat, you're only devoting a third of your powers to your secondary class.

I think this is probably pretty close to accurate. I imagine that they don't want Roles diluted too much in the core product. Roles have never been of primary importance in previous editions but they seem much more important now.

If the GSL allows it, I would definitely hope for Mr. Pramas to design some products for 4E. He's an amazing designer and I know that he could use the 4E rules to come up with some very fantastic material.

I also hope that Mr. Pramas doesn't take the post of one member here as a sign of general hostility towards him. Paizo has some extremely intelligent and knowledgeable people posting here, both for and against 4E.

Multiclassing as in 3E multiclassing? I'm not sure how it would work. As it stands now, multiclassing in 4E allows for characters to dip into another class enough for them to get some core abilities and, in my case, is usually enough to get whatever flavor or concept I'm after without hurting game balance. If that didn't work I would almost say that it's better to come up with an entirely new Class to represent the concept, as they're doing with the Swordmage.

One idea I've toyed with and will try when my smaller bi-monthly group of regular players starts up our second game is to do away with Classes all together and separate them, instead, into the classes based on Power Source.

I would have Martial characters only, at 1st level, actually, and allow free reign when choosing powers from any list. As for the other Power sources, they could be accessed by 4E multiclassing (an Arcane or Divine Class, not specific PHB definitions). That way no one would really be a wizard, per se, but a dabbler in magic as they had access to training. I'm going to try it out for a lower magic campaign.

Oh, and I'm adding in the Rolemaster Critical Hit tables for maiming effects and what not for when someone criticals.

I can't STAND reading pdfs. I hate them with a passion, though they are sometimes useful so a necessary evil.

The widescreen, landscaped format, though, is very easy to read. I've found myself actually forgetting that I'm reading a pdf, which never happened before. This is, of course, balanced by the fact that they no longer will look right if printed. I'm not sure where I stand on that.

Best case scenario would be they do double the work and make a landscaped version for me to read on my computer and a portrait version for me to print from. That would be amazing. No chance in Hell, but it would be amazing.

Lisa Stevens wrote:
AZRogue wrote:
Fear not! Someone is going to lose their job over those 3 core books coming out on the day they were supposed to. A black mark on an otherwise perfect track record.

Actually, didn't they actually come out a few days early in some cases? ;)


Very true. No jobs lost, then. Everything is proceeding according to plan. :)

The exception based design style they've incorporated is definitely different from what some of us are used to but I think it has a lot of potential. Once some of the not-so-optional splat books start coming out I expect a wealth of interesting material to become available.

They just need to make sure that it's balanced with the PHB 1 material. If they lose sight of that goal, things will take a downward turn fast.

As for the articles on Dragon and Dungeon, I agree. They've been a lot more interesting and useful than I expected. It's one of the few things they've done right. Now they just have to follow through with the GSL and the DnDInsider electronic tools.

Keryth wrote:

My problem with this strategy is, if 3.0/3.5 was so unfun, then why have we been playing it all this time? There's plenty of other systems out there.

It was appropriate in some cases. I, personally, stopped playing DnD because of 3.5--my whole gaming group did. When we heard that 4E was going to be a radical overhaul, that's when we got interested. So not all of us played 3E all this time.

One thing you can say about Basic: it wasn't Advanced.


Monster Manual Binders. Pure unadulterated WIN. I loved those things. And I miss my kits. <sniff> THAC0 wasn't so hard.

The options for a 1st level character are not that many, really, and that combined with the "play a Rogue if you want to ..." text has helped several new gamers that I know of (and who are joining my group).

Taken as a whole, I would agree that the game would appear daunting. I don't know of many RPGs that wouldn't be. Still, I can't imagine them simplifying the game much more than they have. It might have attacked a few more new players but, judging from the vocal group opposed to the simplifications, at the cost of losing more current gamers.

It's probably not a very easy line to walk.

Sebastian wrote:

I hereby declare victory in the Edition Wars. Henceforth, all parties shall agree that 2e, as modified by the Skills and Power and Combat and Tactics options, is the One True Edition.


Wiser words have never been said. 2E Skills and Powers is, was, and will remain the finest edition of DnD ever made. How many points for a severe Phobia of water again?

Wyvern wrote:

I have skimmed through this thread and maybe I missed it, but in general I wonder how many people have actually read the books!

Firstly, as others have said. Roleplaying is up to the people involved in the game. If there is no roleplaying at your table that is a problem (or not) with your group not the rules.

Secondly, rules for crafting is not roleplaying! Or maybe it is for you... *sigh* Then the discussion has no common ground at all.

Does your character has friends? Enemies? Does she like a specific city over others? Does she have an opinion on the elves in the nearby forest?

Roleplaying is having characters with personality. Usually represented by banter between party members, or by attitudes toward situations or NPCs. Taking decisions based on the PCs personality and not necessarily on what is the best tactical move at the moment. Ideally these decisions should be expressed in character, you know, roleplaying.

One of the great advances in making roleplay part of the game are the Skill Challenges for social situations. I'm not going to explain it, it's in the DMG, go read it. It's an excellent way to have roleplay be part of the official game flow and includes ALL party members. No longer a single PC is the voice of the party. Everyone has the responsibility to carry their weight in social encounters, just like they do in combat encounters.

I don't get people that say 4e is less conducive to roleplay. I've seen nudges to roleplay and to inject your own flavor all over the PHB and DMG. Even spells invite you to come up with your own personalized descriptions for them.

I agree with you. I think, though, that a lot of the people who don't think there's much RP in 4E really mean that they can't create the same character concepts in 4E as they could before because the game doesn't present as many options at 1st level. They fear, I think, that this will equate to everyone being roleplayed the same, basically like the same character over and over again.

I don't think this is the case but it's a genuine fear, mostly stemming from the way the game has decided to focus on choices during play instead of choices at creation.

Frankly, I think CWM is very helpful. Sometimes he responds to someone in a way that may make them feel as though he's saying they're not entitled to their opinion but the vast majority of his posts are corrections when someone misrepresents a new rule or claims that a rule in 4E is somehow a change when the same thing has been true in prior editions.

Sometimes people are annoyed (not focusing on anyone specifically, here) by this because, well, we don't always want to have our snap judgments pointed out to us.

For an example, it's perfectly logical for someone to claim that they don't like 4E because it doesn't play the way they like, or because the books look funny, or because it's missing classes, or destroyed some of their favorite sacred cows, or doesn't allow as much character variation at 1st level, or a host of other, true, reasons. But if someone said that they don't like 4th edition because of all the laser guns in it, it's only natural for someone else (usually CWM) to respond by pointing out that 4E has no laser guns.

Either way I don't think it's such a big deal. It's frustrating on all sides, I'm sure, when you either can't express exactly what you're trying to say or you feel that you're talking to a brick wall. If we understand that and make a conscious decision to cut each other some slack, most of the problem will be solved. There have been some excellent conversations on this board, some I've been lucky enough to be a part of. I think that those conversations make the occasional annoyances we may feel worth it.

Very good point. Sometimes it's very difficult but not responding in the first place is probably the best way to avoid an ulcer. :)

Razz. wrote:

Ha ha! Just kidding everyone. Even I am not so stupid or trollish to think this is any sort of evidence of fifth edition. It's just that I saw it while reading my enormous collection of 4e information and got so excited I had to share. I love 4e, but I think a 5e would be even better given how much 4e improved 3e.

I love 4e!!!

4e 4ever!!!!!

Comedy. Gold.

There's no real need to get angry over anything Razz posts. It's so off the wall and extreme that it's entertainment in its own right. Though it does make me wonder what medications he's on and I do sometimes try to guess when he misses a day or two based on his posting habits.

When it comes to making deadlines, WotC have mastered the art of Epic Fail. The core books being released on time was a tragic accident which they are still investigating. Fear not! Someone is going to lose their job over those 3 core books coming out on the day they were supposed to. A black mark on an otherwise perfect track record.

On a side note, I need to remember to never loan them money.

tadkil wrote:

So what has been my experience so far? Dang fun game! Feels like Mechwarrior. I am going to play it when I want to feel like I did back in the day with my buddies in high school. I'll play 3.5/PFRPG when I want to play to play something more subtle and contoured.

I have had a great time with both so far, and frankly, they are such different games, that I see plenty of space for both in my gaming life.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

I completely agree. The game plays different and can be great fun. I think it captures a lot of the feel of AD&D in its "at the table" simplicity. I think some people would have more fun playing the game on its own terms, without preconceptions, than they would trying to make the game play the way their last campaign was played in 3E.

A lot of people are being disappointed in 4E character creation because they are expecting something that is intentionally not there: a high level of customization.

Before, after you choose your race, class, and ability scores you get down to the nitty gritty and start fine tuning your character. In 4E, once you choose your race, class, and ability scores you are just about DONE. Intentionally. They want us to agonize over which Class and Race will help us fit our concept, NOT agonize over how to make a certain Class and Race combo fit our concept.

A lot of the choices that make characters different are no longer supposed to be available at 1st level. They're given to you as you level up and make different choices and are derived from the powers you choose and how you describe them in play.

People are going in and looking for one thing--character options at first level--and that's the one greatest part of the game they've changed. We're looking at a MAP and wondering why it looks funny and we haven't really begun to understand that it's meant to represent a globe.

I haven't had any problems and I'm normally kind of hard on books, propping them page-down on my knee, or over the arm of a chair, or a counter top. I haven't had any smears so far and I've been reading them in bed, even.

But I'll definitely be more careful if it's a problem the books have. Maybe I've just been lucky. I live in Arizona so it's hot, but not really humid at all so maybe that helps.

Evil Genius wrote:
Goodman Games has a lot of adventures lined up for 4e... Beyond them and Necromancer Games, I'm not sure of any other companies.

I'm really looking forward to Goodman's adventures. Hopefully, soon (when the GSL is released), we will hear a bit more from some of these companies about their plans. The field is wide open right now and I can see some people really being interested in some of the things they do with the system.

Do we know what has been planned by third party publishers yet? Not all have committed themselves with the GSL still unreleased, but some, like Necromancy, have.

I know that Necro is releasing and Advanced Player's Guide which will contain much goodness in the form of optional material that has been removed from 4E (or just not released yet). Do we know what else people are releasing?

Wish List: Some GOOD adventure paths, many more magical items WITH tables to allow random treasure generation, exotic classes (like a magical gun user, for instance), detailed racial write ups, templates, and Generic Powers (Powers that can be chosen by anyone of a particular Power Source, like Martial Powers, Arcane Powers, etc.).

Hell, I still have my AD&D books and 2E books. I also have some of the stuff from my box set of OD&D, even if the box has long decomposed somewhere. Each game was good for its time and we still pull them down to play now and again.

Vic Wertz wrote:
Andrew Turner wrote:
Mine cost $54.83 with shipping. It makes me wonder what the wholesale price is--how much money is Amazon making on the set? Of course, no-one shares that kind of info.

In the hobby industry, publishers generally sell to distribution at 60% off retail price, and distribution sells to retail at 40% off retail price (plus or minus a few percent). Now, the book trade works a bit differently, and factors like returnability change the discount structure, but all those numbers are still usually within several percent of the hobby standard. So it's possible that other discounts are in place here, but for a normal product priced at $104.95, I'd assume that the publisher is getting roughly $41.98 from the distributor, who is getting roughly $62.97 from the retailer. (Again, plus or minus a few percent.)

The one thing I know for sure about this product is that amazon is selling the core set for less than we, as a hobby game retailer, can buy it for from a hobby distributor.

Thanks for the information. That's interesting that Amazon could sell them at that price, then. Of course, whatever they're doing we know that they're, at least, also bungling a lot of orders and winning no love with long delays.

I keep everything and I never throw away books. I think I'd roll up into a ball and die. They go onto one of the bookshelves I have for that purpose, along with my older paperback classics and the older editions.

Good advice, thanks. :) I think I'm going to heavily automate. The other DM of the group can help out with things that don't need full time, like some people going to buy supplies or what not. I'll see how it goes. I've known them all for years, so that should hopefully help.

Watcher wrote:

I'm playing 4E every other Sunday. (GM's day off)

On every other Saturday I'm running 3.5 Pathfinder.

On every other Tuesday I running Pathfinder RPG.

Nick Logue would call me a slut (maybe a whore). So if a game system were a girlfriend, I'm doing her and both of her sisters. All though, Mrs. Watcher may not appreciate that metaphor.

Sorry dear!(clears throat)

And I love them all. It's good to be the Watcher.

You notice my posting has slowed down..? I'm too busy gaming!

You have the best response yet. Gaming is always the right answer.

For myself, I'm not really interested in PRPG unless it ends up leaving 3.5 a lot further behind than I think it is. But Paizo always had great content so I'm hoping to convert some of their great material and take advantage of others doing the same.

I really love the Disease mechanic in 4E. I just wish they had used it for Poisons, too.

Still, this is a great idea. The mechanic could be used for a host of things. Maybe, maybe, maybe (picture me having a nerdgasm the likes of which only Bobb Ross could fully appreciate) I can make a list of injuries, from broken bones to concussions, and roll for one randomly (I miss my random tables) each time a PC fails a Death Save while unconscious. Hmm. Torn muscles, severed tendons, broken bones, compound fractures, pierced bowels, bleeding eardrums, severe bruising and swelling, ruptured organs, internal bleeding, collapsed lung, cardiac failure, aggressive infections, compromised immune systems due to massive trauma leading to sepsis.....

One good (maybe) thing to be said for 4E: I have 2 more new players. Two of my players' wives have rolled characters and "informed" me that they'll be coming to the game next week. My girlfiend is also considering playing. She's made 3 Eladrin Rangers, now (I think she likes Eladrin Rangers) and is going to "watch us" play. She actually really likes the "Play an Eladrin to be..." sections in each book.

That would be 8 players. I've never ran that many and am a bit intimidated to say the least. I think I should make a thread asking for advice for managing larger parties. :/

Excellent article. Cult structure, backstory, NPCs, new Magical Items, etc. Really great stuff. Ari out did himself on this one.

On a side note, I really like the landscaped format they're using. It fits perfectly on my HD wide screen monitor and makes reading the article far less annoying than I find most pdfs.

Digitalelf wrote:
Antioch wrote:
Really, I'm all for glossing over the mundane details like overland traveling, asking about every character's meal for the day, or what every character's favorite color is.

See my previous posts concerning differing STYLES of Role-playing...

To each his own I guess...

Antioch wrote:
I cant think of anything I could do in 3rd Edition that I cant still do in 4th Edition.

Only now you make a blanket judgment call with no rules but your own whim to justify them! If that's what you want, then fine, who am I to judge...

But I like having a little more structure in my games than whatever whim happens to tickle my fancy at the moment! It lets the players know I am playing by the rules (and no, I'm not suggesting that you are not playing by the rules. I am just pointing out the different styles of play involved)...

-That One Digitalef Fellow-

You raise a good point. 3E did provide a structure for things that had, mostly, been worked out mutually between the DM and player in previous editions instead of going by a set number on a character sheet.

In AD&D my players and I did a host of things not related to combat. Basically if we imagined it and it fit in with our character our DM (me, most of the time) allowed it or incorporated it. That's how AD&D worked. 2E's non-weapon proficiencies were broad enough that this continued, though in a more specialized sort of way.

One of my biggest complaints with 3E when it came out was the Skill system. I worked around it, mostly, by giving every character double their Skill points at 1st level to be used for background Skills. It worked, to a point, but it was one of those things that I didn't enjoy with 3E.

4E continues to use Skills, which is still kind of annoying but understandable, I suppose, but they streamlined them enough, and concentrated them into Skills that have direct mechanical effect in-game, that I am running the game much more like I ran my AD&D and 2E games than before. It seems a natural thing to me so not a problem at all. It really lets a character's backstory take the route they want without having to worry to much whether what they're proposing is possible.

Note that this is only one aspect where I feel 4E plays more like older editions. It has changed a great deal when compared to the older editions, mechanically, and I don't want to falsely try to imply differently.

I read a very enlightening article over on ENWorld from one of the game's playtesters. It highlighted one of the key differences between 3E and 4E--one of the differences that I've been having a hard time pinning down. I think it's an excellent read for both those who like and those who dislike 4E.

The link to the thread is HERE.

And the post itself is copied below. The author is JDillard.

4E - Where did my options go? - The New Paradigm
Got a long one here for you all.

So I'm a long time lurker here on ENWorld. I decided it's finally time to start a thread. I've been playing 4th for a few months now, as an NDA'd friend of a couple WotC employees. While I can't discuss specifics, I can talk about impressions I've gotten, and I feel like I've got a good grasp of the feel of the game and how it works.

Anyway... I'll get around to my point now.

I keep seeing a lot of discussion on many, many threads regarding options. I see a lot of people, both pro and anti 4e, saying that the game is more constrained, you can't do as much with characters, so on and so forth.

I've seen a lot of people try to argue the opposite. They've discussed "party optimization" instead of "character optimization", or compared a 1st level 3e fighter to a 1st level 4e fighter.

Furthermore, in a not obviously apparent, related topic I've seen many, many arguments about how 4e is better in play than it looks from just reading the book. My own experiences agree with that one.

Despite that, I and many others are having an absolute blast playing the game. So, why is that? If the game really is constricting, if there really are less options, then why is it that it's still so much fun? And how does that relate to the recurring theme that it's more fun in play than in read-through?

Where did my options go? - The New Paradigm!

3e - What we're familiar with:

In the previous edition (3.x) which, to put it bluntly, the vast majority of us here are familiar with, the majority of character options were built into the character creation process. It started with the very strong modularity of the system. At any point, at any level, I can take my next level of whatever class I might want (assuming prereq's met). When I want to build a level 20 character, I've got 20 "units" of build, purely based off of class levels. I can take a bit here, a bit there, and go for it. Or I can take all 20 of one class.

Even further, you've got feats and skills. Spellcasters have spells. Tons and tons and tons of options. Given enough time, with just the PHB, I can create hundreds of level 20 characters, all noticeably different. Admittedly, a lot of them would be poor to unplayable (10 Ftr / 10 Wiz for example). Still, that's a *ton* of options.

However, once you've gotten your character built and you're actually playing the game, your options drop dramatically. With the exception of the open-ended spellcasters (and what I mean by that are the Wizard and Cleric types, who aren't constrained by a "spells known" maximum), the rest of the character types were still very limited in what sorts of actions they could take. This is definitely true in combat, but even expands into the non-combat arena.

While your melee fighter type character can choose from many different options to begin with, once he's in combat he's got his one or two things he does over and over again. The heavy armor fighter runs up and stands next to the monster, hitting with his greatsword. The spiked chain fighter does his tripping, or his moving with Opportunity attacks. The rogue gets into flanking position and proceeds to sneak attack. This does not generally vary from combat to combat either, except in situations where the monster is somehow "immune" to whatever your schtick is (undead for the rogue, for example), and then you generally spend the time trying to come up with creative solutions that vary from brilliant to extremely frustrating for the DM.

This isn't just in combat though. Given the lengthy skills list and the ability to have such variance in skill point allocation, you've got a couple different ways a character can be. You can specialize in a few select skills, maximizing their points for your level, or you can try to spread the points out into multiple skills. The first works throughout, but the second generally only works at lower levels. By the time you hit the double-digits your "ok at lots of things" concept starts to turn into "poor at lots of things", and then "barely able to do lots of things" at the top end.

So suppose you stick with the familiar specialist concept. Given how lengthy the skill list is (40ish, right?) you really can only be *really really* specialized in a couple things. You take hide/move silent and great, you're fantastic it it. What do you do in game? You try to solve problems by sneaking around. You take Jump and Swim? What do you do? You try to find ways to jump or swim your way past challenges. From level 1 to level 20 you're trying to sneak past things or jump past things.

So, to conclude and reiterate this point: 3e's paradigm is to provide you with maximal options at character creation. However, this comes at the cost of most characters losing options during actual play. The only exclusion to this is with the open-ended spellcasters, for whom options are maximized nearly throughout. I'll discuss this a bit later.

4e - The New Game:

Contrasting the 3e paradigm is the 4e one. And a contrast it definitely is, as the methods of the system seem designed to flip the situation around to its opposite.

As much as we want to argue that 4e has lots and lots of options, and it does, comparing the sheer number of characters I can create with a 3e PHB and a 4e PHB the 4e one comes out far behind. The system is not modular in the same way. Once I pick my starting class, that's my class throughout. Now, as I level I do have the retraining option, so I can switch things out that I don't like with things that I do. That's nice, but it doesn't mean much when I'm simply creating a new character from scratch.

There are a lot of feats, but they're largely restricted to a race or class. Multiclass options are there, but they mostly allow small uses of another class's power, not a full gaining of that class's skills. The skill list is significantly smaller and the mechanics of skill training and skill usage makes specialization difficult if not impossible in some cases.

The arguments that I've seen for the value of these changes from both posters and designers focus on a couple things: Game balance and Fun. Game balance is easy to see. The "economy of actions" concept keeps the length of a combat round down, and keeps each players turn length fairly similar. The redesign of the wizard, in particular, means that all characters have a "chance to shine", rather than the wizard being able to do basically anything, with the right spell. Hit points are standardized, BAB's are standardized, skill values are standardized, all these things prevent a lot of the swingyness and mean that most characters, of any level, are going to be at least useable if not excellent.

How about the Fun part though? Well, that comes in, in play. 4e's focus is not on Creation Options, but on Play Options. It's a hard concept to explain, but I'll do my best.

Take something simple. Say there's a rogue power that damages an enemy and slides them three spaces (I'm sure there is, but not having played a rogue I don't know the names off the top of my head). It sounds like a simple thing, in read through. In play, it has amazing versatility. I can slide the enemy into flanking position, so next turn I can get to do Sneak attack. I can slide the enemy around the fighter, so if it wants to attack me next turn it has to deal with the fighter's "stickiness". I can slide it away, trying to protect a squishier wizard or warlock in the back. I can slide it off a cliff, into a trap, into a damage zone cast by a warlock or wizard, into rough terrain, and so on, and so on.

It's one power with a simple read through, but once you're actually in combat it gives you a ton of options that are all dependant upon the specific combat situation you find yourself in.

And that's just one of your powers. You've got others. Some deal more damage. Some might blind or immobilize a foe. Others might hit more than one foe at a time. And you can use them in whatever order you want. I can put myself in a position where sliding my foe might be useful, or if it's not, I can merely go for maximum damage. Maybe *now* is a good time to immobilize rather than slide, so I can.

In 4e combat is constantly shifting. Monsters move around, traps and terrain change your ability to move or your reasons for it. The standard/move/minor action concept means you get just as much attack whether you stay in once place or you move around the field, so often it benefits you to reposition during a fight.

Skill use is also adjusted in a similar manner. A reduced number of broader skills means that you can do more with any individual skill. Thievery now covers pick pocketing, sleight of hand, trap disarming, forgery, and maybe even disguise in some cases. One skill, lots of usability. Stealth now covers both moving quietly and hiding. Nature now covers handling animals, knowledge local (in the woods), knowledge nature, and even some alchemy in potion brewing (with the right ritual). Arcana covers both knowledge and spellcraft and even detect magic, as well as lots of rituals. When I choose a skill to train in 4e, I'm now choosing to be better at a long list of different, related things. I'm getting blocks of skills for one training, rather than excelling at individual parts of that block at the expense of other parts.

And even further, rebalancing the way skills work to include the 1/2 level on a roll means that a character doesn't have to be highly trained and specialized to get use out of a skill. A wizard with decent dex can actually succeed at a sneak check now, just not as often as trained rogue. A non-charismatic dwarf might still be able to bluff his way through something. Sure, it'd be a difficult roll, but we're opening up more options during game play here. I wouldn't even try something like that in 3e because the way the system is designed, at mid-high levels your chance of success would be zero.

So to conclude this part: 4e reduces the number of character creation options in the name of game balance, but vastly makes up for it in the amount of "in play" options available.

Still reading? Thanks. Last part!

Finally, to tie up the beginning with the end, here we go. So we keep seeing people saying "it doesn't read well, but when you play it, it's great!" Why? Well, look at what I just said. They took the options we're familiar with, and replaced them with options we're less familiar with. I look at the book and see only a few races, a few classes (both less or equal to what the 3e PHB had), with the removal of a lot of the complexity that character creation used to have. It's more simple to make, easier to "throw something together" and completely lacking in the beloved modularity of the previous game.

You see powers that say "Do 2(w) and slide the target 3 spaces". Does that give you an excited tingle up your spine? No. It sounds pretty bland on paper.

How about "Switch places with an ally as a move action", "Close burst 1, do some damage and teleport 5 + Int mod squares", "Gain concealment when you move more than 3 spaces", and "Gain +5 to sealth checks until the end of your next turn". Individually they all sound pretty simple, not very exciting...

Then I see my buddy's fae-lock use a minor to activate his +5 to stealth checks, do a move to switch places with the fighter who's surrounded and getting beat on, use otherworldy stride to damage everyone around him and uses the teleport it gives to get himself out of being surrounded as a standard action, and then rolls a stealth check at the end because he trained in that skill and has concealment from his other warlock power. He makes a high stealth roll and the enemies can't see him.

The fighter is saved, the monsters are hurt, confused, and can't retaliate on the guy who just screwed them, the DM is boggled and the warlock can sit back and bask in it. Those were "just encounter powers", he's still got his "powerful" dailies left.

Bring on the 4e, bring on the in game options. I loved sitting around tinkering with character builds for hours, but I don't think I'll miss it much. I'm having too damn much fun actually playing the game!

David Marks wrote:
AZRogue wrote:
People use encumbrance?

I try to keep my characters within the bounds of encumbrance, but otherwise, no our group ignores it completely. The same applies to the tracking of non-magical ammunition, and food and water. We just don't care really (although of course, adventures based on the scarcity of those resources would likely bring them to the forefront again!)

Cheers! :)

That's what I do, too. I've tracked mundane resources for those adventures where it's a factor, like long wilderness or desert treks, but that's about it. No one likes recording weight and I've seen sessions back in the day devolve as we tried to figure out how much we were carrying, referencing character sheets and the party loot list. We just agreed, amongst ourselves, that encumbrance was one of those things that's nice to talk about but the ultimate in buzz kill to do.

Aberzombie wrote:
Rambling Scribe wrote:
Ashavan, Steerpike, I'm with you guys. It's been a lot harder lately to enjoy these boards as a person who likes both 4E and Pathfinder.
You could try my solution - nervous breakdown every other Thursday followed by a night of drunken debauchery.

This is my solution, too. I just don't know to what problem. Whatever it is, I make sure that it's solved regularly.

People use encumbrance?

People can talk about whatever edition of DnD they want there. It's just 4E that's being talked about the most at the moment. Not surprising as it's the edition just released and the one now being supported. They're not doing anything out of the ordinary. 4E is just now the current official edition of DnD.

If you prefer simple rules that don't get in the way of what you, the DM, is trying to do, I think 4E would actually be a good choice. The game actually does play differently than it reads, which is a point I wish was mentioned more. It's great at the table.

But if you already have a system set up to do what you want then that's great. As long as we're all having fun. None of the editions can be everything to everyone. :)

1 piece of ammunition is used per each actual target. There was a customer service reply, I think, that got posted on enworld from WotC and I remember that one as it pertains to my Rogue and his blinding burst ability. :)

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