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I finally got my copy of the PHB, and now that I can see different path options within each class, I'm really feeling the approach the class design, even more than what I saw in the playtest.

So I figured I'd start up a thread for everyone to share the elements they've noticed that have them most excited or interested in the edition, or any other stuff that just looks cool.

Here are the big ones for me thus far:

1) Character choices having a big impact.

I'm really impressed by how much weight goes into the different character path choices within each class. Wizard specialists not just being about having different spells, but actually getting truly unique abilities that fit the flavor of their specialization. Same goes for cleric domains, with domain impacting skills, equipment, spells, special abilities... that's really cool.

It also shows me the direction, I'm guessing, for any future content. Will we eventually see future classes like the Psion? Sure, seems likely. But plenty of other character options seem like they will simply be incorporated as path variants within the existing classes. Why come out with a Psychic Warrior class, for example, when you can just make that a Martial Archetype for the Fighter - just as the Eldritch Knight is?

Adding new variants within each class seems like it will let you capture plenty of unique builds and concepts without needing to resort to countless new classes / prestige classes / paragon paths / etc. Which has me hopeful that they will have plenty of room to develop new content without going down the usual path of option bloat and optimization.

2) Character abilities that really feel unique.

Warlocks who have made pacts with Great Old Ones (ie, Far Realm / Star Pact / etc) just straight up get telepathy at level 1. Wild Magic Sorcerers have a chance to trigger a wild magic surge every time they cast a spell - or more often, if the DM invokes it upon them! Rogues are wily, crafty skirmishers who get free utility actions each round of the combat, letting them dash safely past enemies, dart out of sight to go hide, disable traps while tossing a dagger at a foe, etc.

I feel like they have done a good job, with many abilities, of giving out benefits that feel meaningful and useful, without being overpowered. I'm not sold on every such build - the Shadow Monk looks awesome, for example, but the Elemental Monk hasn't really grabbed me.

But nonetheless, I like how just about every class has something unique going for it (or at least has some options in that category). I feel like it avoids the disparity of 3.5 (where some characters were pretty mundane from start to finish), while also avoiding the 'sameiness' that could crop up in 4E.

3) Taking the best of both worlds.

I like seeing the blend of concepts from editions - not just in the mechanics, but also in the flavor. Discovering the Avenger was still around - as a Paladin buld - was a great surprise.

I was thrilled at how the Warlock incorporates elements of both the 3.5 warlock (with at-will invocations) plus elements of the 4E Warlock (with different pacts, unique spells like Hellish Rebuke, the Fiendish Warlock's ability to gain temps by killing foes, and the ability to Hex enemies for ongoing damage bonuses).

Does it support every build found in every edition? Well, no, but that's a bit of an impossible task. But I was impressed at how many different versions and references seemed to be around.

Does it only have the best options from every edition? Given that 'best' is subjective, the answer there is inevitably going to be no. There are certain some elements I'm not entirely sold on, as well as things I miss from some editions that got left behind. But they obviously made an effort to try and incorporate as much as possible for those who liked different styles of play, as well as different elements of flavor that cropped up in each edition.

4) Character build flexibility.

One of my fears about the new edition was that options would be somewhat limited. And there are some areas where elements of that are true - once you make some of your big choices (character path within a class, feats, etc), you might not have many more decisions to make within your character build.

However, within those choices themselves, I feel like there are a vast number of playstyles and character builds that are not just available, but feel perfectly viable for play.

Fighter is a great example of this. Do I want a 4E style tank that protects his allies? I take the Protection Fighting Style, the Battle Master Archetype with Goading Attack, and the Sentinel Feat, and suddenly I've got all the best aspects of the 4E protector.

Do I instead want an Elven Bladesinger? I go Eldritch Knight with the Dueling Fighting Style, a finesse weapon, and the Defensive Duelist and the Mobile feat. I'm fast, agile, hard to hit and able to wield sword and spell to good effect.

Or let's go for a Warlord! I take the Inspiring Leader feat, and snag Commander's Strike, Manuevering Attack and Rally as Battle Master options. I can hand out temps to help my friends, and give them free movement and attacks (with bonuses) on my turn.

Having a class that can so easily accomodate those builds - as well as more classic builds like sharpshooting archers, or charging greatsword wielders - or more unusual stuff like unarmed grapplers or shield bashers - is a very good sign to me.

The big worry, of course, is whether those builds are viable at all levels. You don't get a feat until level 4, after all. You don't get your fighter archetype until level 3. On the other hand, it seems intentional that the first few levels should get pretty quickly - and are even perhaps deliberately less defined, so that you have a few levels before really having to decide where to focus one's build. I'll wait to see how that plays out.

Still - overall, I find myself thinking of countless different types of characters I can build and play with these rules. For me, that is a very good sign of things to come.


So, in this month's preview column (April and Beyond), we got a glimpse of some entries from the upcoming Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale. Which is basically MM4, by any other name - new monsters, with the latest design, and apparently a much larger emphasis on flavor.

As far as I can tell, it paid off. The recent player options in Essentials have been interesting but haven't really wowed me. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Heroes of Shadows and Shadowfell boxed set, but mainly because my next campaign is likely to be Ravenloft.

But this book has me desperately awaiting for June to arrive, especially after seeing a sample from the book: The Wandering Tower. Because a tower-sized mimic populated by duplicating mimics, living walls, and blood-drinking ravens, with a half-dozen plot threads and story hooks to use with it, is pretty much 100% awesome.


So, lots of new coming out from GenCon, and what sounds like some really exciting stuff. For those who haven't seen any of it, Critical Hits has been covering most of it.

Some key things coming in 2011:

-Mordenkenian’s Magical Emporium is the new magic item book, basically "Adventurer's Vault 3" but with a much bigger focus on the story for items. Additionally, all magical items will be classified as 'Common', 'Uncommon' or 'Rare', with Rare items being more unique and powerful items that can only be handed out by the DM.

-Shadowfell supplement coming out, but as a fulled boxed set. So not just the planar book itself, but also maps and more, including a 'Despair Deck' for inflicting mental effects upon PCs, similar to rules in the past for Ravenloft, places of horror, etc.

-Speaking of which: Ravenloft. Late 2011 release, functional either as a standalone game or usable as part of a normal D&D game.

-Another Monster Vault book, which also includes monster tokens and poster maps. I really like this, since I'm always a fan of more maps to draw from, and including those in the monster books will be a big draw for me.

-Player's Handbook: Champions of the Heroic Tier. Looks like this will focus very heavily on new options and roleplaying elements, including both themes (as seen in Dark Sun) and non-combat options like Blacksmith and other background professions. We've seen more and more attempts at this sort of this thing (in backgrounds, themes, etc), and sounds like WotC is finally buckling down and codifying them once and for all.

-Conquest of Nerath, a new D&D board game. I do like seeing more and more D&D non-RPG stuff, as it seems a good way to expand the hobby recognition and draw in new players.

-Neverwinter Campaign Guide, a new supplement for Forgotten Realms. Interesting, since the original plan was not to have extra books for the released settings. I'm betting this is aimed at drawing in players of the Neverwinter Nights video games... and wouldn't be surprised if we hear about a 4E CRPG version in the near future.

Those are some of the ones that caught my mind. Sounds like a lot of responses to player feedback (more focus on story, more support for non-combat options, etc.)

Some other random comments from the panels, it sounded like there was talk of work on a book focusing on Skill Challenges; one of the jobs for Mike Mearls is now to try and super-edit books to really catch possible need for errata before it hits print; several alternate treasure systems will be showing up in Essentials and elsewhere, including the return of random magic item tables; DMG3 is on hold while they wait for more groups to hit Epic, and might not be seen until 2012.

I'm just impressed they kept so much under wraps. I was really not expecting half this many big announcements, but apparently they've got a lot of new ideas in the works, and quite a few I already can't wait for...


So, another preview of the Essentials line is out, this time focused on the Wizard.

We started off with yet another disclaimer about how compatible this line is with existing material, etc. Then we get into the meat of the preview, the new Wizard build showing up in Essentials, known as the Mage.

I'm getting the sense that even though a player can take these subclasses and mix-and-match them with general content, they are focused enough that they are really emphasizing the build's name as a way of establishing it as a distinct entity. Which might be one solution for those concerned that Essentials could cause confusion over 'what type of wizard are you playing' - someone with a wizard from the PHB might just call themselves a Wizard (or a Staff Wizard), while someone using Essentials might call themselves a Mage.

In any case, what the Mage actually is... is a classic wizard Specialist.

It looks like Essentials has three schools for them - Enchantment, Evocation, and Illusion. I wouldn't be surprised if we see more schools whenever Arcane Power 2 (or the equivalent) shows up.

In any case, these are all builds one can certainly create already from existing content via appropriate feats and spells - the goal here, though, more seems to be giving new players something they can sit down with right out of the box, rather than needing to look through all the options and try and figure out the right choices on their own.

We have both a standard level table, and a spells per day table. These again seem to just be saying the same exact things already existing in the books - just presenting it in a more classic format. I imagine both to appeal to older players... and because, honestly, it makes the information easier to understand.

We have some class features tied to spell school - the Apprentice Mage ability at levels 1 and 4, Expert Mage at levels 5 and 8, and Master Mage at level 9. We don't get to see the benefits in this preview.

I suspect that the level 1 power will be on par with other initial class features, while the later ones provide various rituals or similar abilities. Thus, making up for the lack of Ritual Caster, while providing elements that support whatever school the character has chosen. But right now, that's just my theory.

Final details focus on At-Wills. It looks like all Mages will get Magic Missile in addition to 2 other At-Wills - I wouldn't be surprised, when Essentials hits, if there is Errata that does the same for all Wizards.

We also see three new At-Wills. WotC have learned well how to design Wizard spells - we've got Arc Lightning for some serious ranged multi-target power, along with two effective control powers.

All in all, I continue to like the direction they are taking things. It all feels very familiar with the existing material, but more finely tuned, easier to understand, and perhaps even with a bit more flavor within the text itself. I'm curious to see the unique abilities of each specialist mage.

I'm also curious whether other classes will have similar themes to focus around. For Warpriests we have Domains, for Mages we have spell Schools. What will we see for Fighters and Rogues? I'm guessing fighters might have Weapon Schools of some sort, and no ideas for Rogues - any theories?


So, today has a preview of the Essentials Cleric, and it is interesting stuff.

Presentation

Here is the very first thing I notice - the class write-up is complete. One of the complaints about the PHB was that you needed to flip through a few places to look at exactly how to build your character - one section included the advancement chart, plus the class entry itself that covered HP, proficiencies, etc. Which probably saved a good bit of space - but definitely lost some points on user-friendliness.

In the preview? We've got a classic level advancement chart for the class. Which both provides a bit of an old-school feel, while also making it easier for newcomers to see how it all works.

There is also clearer language in the presentation. Just compare the stat blocks:

PHB Cleric wrote:


CLASS TRAITS
Role: Leader. You lead by shielding allies with your prayers, healing, and using powers that improve your allies’ attacks.
Power Source: Divine. You have been invested with the authority to wield divine power on behalf of a deity, faith, or philosophy.
Key Abilities: Wisdom, Strength, Charisma

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather, hide, chainmail.
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged.
Implement: Holy Symbol
Bonus to Defense: +2 Will.

Hit Points at 1st Level: 12+ Constitution Score.
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Day: 7+ Constitution Modifier.

Trained Skills: Religion. From the class skills list below, choose 3 more trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Arcana (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Religion (Int).

Build Options: Battle Cleric, Devoted Cleric, Shielding Cleric.
Class features: Channel Divinity, Healer's Lore, Healing Word, Ritual Casting.

Essentials Cleric wrote:


CLASS TRAITS
Hit Points: You start with hit points equal to 12 + your Constitution score. You gain 5 hit points each time you gain a level.
Bonus to Defenses: +1 to Fortitude, +1 to Will
Healing Surges per Day: 7 + your Constitution modifier
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather, hide, chainmail; light shield, heavy shield
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged
Implement Proficiencies: Holy symbols
Class Skills: Arcana (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Religion (Int)

So, they slimmed down the class traits to just the core stuff - role, power-source and such get their own paragraphs beforehand, as they explain the class in detail. Builds and class features are detailed afterwards, or in the actual level advancement table. The stat block just has the key mechanical elements.

Meanwhile, the listing of hit points is in much plainer language - which might take up a bit more space, but I imagine will be very helpful to new players.

Finally, class skills don't have any auto-trained, just a full list, which probably avoids some minor confusion arising from seeing religion on the PHB cleric's list twice.

So, simply in terms of presentation? Several little touches that make everything cleaner and more accessible. That's pretty much what I expecting.

Mechanics

What I wasn't expecting, as much, was the mechanical changes. Of note - different bonuses to defenses, and proficiency in shields.

Now, there already exists classes whose different builds might change such things - the Monk has different defense bonuses depending on build, and the warlord has builds with different armor proficiencies.

But it usually isn't laid out in the statblock - which is when I realized the statblock wasn't under the 'Cleric' entry, but the 'Warpriest' entry. So again - taking up more space, in order to keep each entry self-sufficient.

So, going beyond the stat blocks alone, what mechanical changes do we see? No ritual casting. Instead, the cleric gets access to Holy Cleansing at level 4, and Resurrection at level 8. (Which I expect are the equivalent of rituals to remove diseases/afflictions and raise the dead.)

Perhaps more of note is that you choose a domain, and that determines most of your powers for you. How absolutely, we don't know, but it looks like At-Will and Encounter powers are tied to your domain.

Finally, on a smaller note - note that the warpriest, here, is wisdom and con-based. I suspect they will be avoiding any classes having two primary ability scores, and instead always have one primary score plus options for secondary scores.

The preview also hints that we'll see the races get the expanded ability score options many have been predicting. (So Dwarves might be +2 Con, and choice of +2 Wis or +2 Str.) We'll probably see errata at the same time to bring the PHB races up to date - I expect that's the most major change that will hit alongside Essentials.

Between the two of those, however, it should be even easier to just go with any race/class combo and feel like it works, without as much need to fret over optimization. 4E has been pretty good about this so far, but not perfect, and I'm certainly glad to see this approach in something that will be introducing people to the game.

Conclusions:

So from all of this, the class looks entirely compatible with the current rules - which is to say, I see nothing to indicate that an Essentials Cleric and a PHB Cleric, at the same table, won't seem perfectly balanced with each other.

However, it also brings into question what they mean by the class being a new 'build'. In some ways, it is - it has many of the same features of the PHB cleric, and presumably plays very similarly. However, unlike most existing builds, I don't see much room to mix and match pieces. You are either playing an Essentials Cleric, or a PHB Cleric.

That isn't a bad thing, mind you. And I suspect the use of secondary titles like 'Warpriest' are specifically there to help make this clear, and address some concerns about the confusion of multiple sources of Clerics. Instead, Jon plays a Cleric from the PHB, and his friend Jack plays a Warpriest from Essentials.

Anyway, we'll see - this certainly doesn't show us everything, and I'm still making some general assumptions about what it all means. But it is an interesting preview, and at least for me, makes Essentials seems very promising indeed.


I'm splitting this off from the "How is 4E easier" thread, since the skill challenge discussion there was dragging things significantly off-topic, especially bad since the goal of the thread was to help give guidance to someone new to the system.

A quick summary: A Man In Black has made a number of claims about how the skill challenge system is broken beyond use - that the math is so non-functionaly that there is never a worthwhile time to use a skill challenge instead of just arbitrarily deciding what happens. Many other posters disagree - some feeling that it works as is, some feeling that the math is off but can still function with a bit of work.

Some specific points:

A Man In Black wrote:

As for not realizing that it's a skill challenge: at that point, there is no reason to use skill challenges at all. The whole point of skill challenges is that players are supposed to realize that there is a complex task and figure out the most efficient way each character contributes to that task. If the GM just assigns the target and makes each PC use a skill of the GM's choice, then you might as well just use straight skill rolls.

The whole idea of skill challenges is that they are puzzles that the players use their characters' abilities to solve, the same way that combat is a puzzle that the players use their characters' abilities to solve. If you hide the challenges from the players, then all of the complexity of the rules is completely useless and wasted.

Yeah, this is just wrong. The whole point of the skill challenge is to provide mechanical guidelines for the DM to use to determine whether PCs succeed or fail at a dramatic non-combat encounter. Rather than having a single skill roll determine everything, or not knowing how many survival checks to throw at a group to get them through the wilderness. As such, it can work just fine when hidden from the players, but allowing the DM an easy method to figure out how much investigating of a town it takes to uncover the local cult.

It doesn't always need to be hidden, but it also doesn't need to be obvious, either. As others have mentioned, that's a metagame issue that each group can handle in different ways - or that can change from one skill challenge to the next, honestly! I've seen it work both ways, to good success, in the same campaign.

A Man In Black wrote:
Skill challenges as-written punish people for playing naturally, and that is why they are broken. Anecdotal evidence can't fix a mathematically broken system, no matter how many times you say sentences that are synonymous with "I don't think there's a problem" or "I don't see any problem."

Similarly, no matter how many times you state that it is a mathematically broken system, that doesn't automatically make it so. There are issues with the math, but not necessarily ones so irrevocably flawed that the system crashes and burns with every use. Given that many players on these boards have been able to use it successfully is undeniably evidence that the system can work, and with regularity. Now, is that the result of good DMs compensating for the flaws in the system? Or does it just mean that the math issues only crop up occasionally, but are glaring when they do?

Either way, the system certainly isn't failing with every use, or even with most uses. I still won't recommend a new DM dive into using Skill Challenges without first having some experience behind them, but I see nothing supporting a proclamation that they are all absolutely inevitable disasters.


Today brought another short cartoon from WotC - this one celebrating the release of the DMG2 by showing our intrepid reporter enjoying some time in Sigil, and making a very poor decision to hit on a particularly Painful Lady. For my money, might be the funniest one yet - though might get a bit bloody for the squeamish.

Link: DMG2 Cartoon


One of the interesting things about 4E - that has both supporters and naysayers - is that monster entries are much more concise, and specific powers don't have a description of what that power does. It is usually obvious from the name of the power, the context of its mechanics, and the background of the creature itself.

But not always.

I have found this both wonderful and terrible at the same time. It both frees the imagination, letting one fill in exactly how a power works, and thus being able to describe it in the perfect way for one's party.

But sometimes, it means you come across a power where the only response is... "What?"

You know the ones I mean - something that just seems out of place, or has a vague enough name that you can't even remotely figure out what it is supposed to represent.

So, I was curious - what are some of the best and worst examples of this that one has come across? The powers that have most fired the imagination, along with the ones that have left you confused and confounded?

BEST

One of my favorites is auras, and specifically ones that expand as a monster gets bloodied. A good example is the 'Frost Titan Avalanche' from today's DDI Bestiary article:

Icy Terrain (Cold) aura 2 (or 5 while bloodied); enemies treat
the aura’s area as difficult terrain.

Simple and reasonably straightforward, especially for a powerful solo, right? But it simply conjures this fantastic image in my mind of a Frost Titan lumbering across the battlefield as icy blood pours forth from open wounds, sheeting the ground in a black-red frost, ice spraying further from his injuries with every swing of its mighty fists...

This is only further supported by some powers that unleash a frosty burst when the Titan is hit by an attack - I visualize icy shards exploding in every direction when it is struck, pinning foes to the ground where they slowly freeze to death...

---

So, anyone else have any monsters or abilities that ended up being unexpectedly inspiring - or conversely, any that ended up being inexplicable? What creative solutions have people come up with to describe otherwise confounding powers?


So, the Psion super-advance preview hit for DDI today, with one full build for the class from levels 1-30. Some very interesting stuff.

Much of it was as expected... Int-based Psionic Controller, with other mental stats as secondary abilities, and two primary disciplines (essentially Telepathy and Telekinesis. I suspect many of the other older disciplines will work their way into other Psionic classes, but that we'll have to wait and see.)

The Telepathy build previewed, which uses Charisma, is primarily about tearing enemy minds apart, inflicting various debilitating effects, lots of charm/domination, and a surprising number of personal defenses (including quite a few effects which leach health from an opponent as you ramp up your psychic assault.) Names of powers avoided overt anachronisms, but plenty of the old favorites were there (Psychic Chirurgery, Intellect Fortress, Id Insinuation, etc.)

But the big surprise... is the use of power points. A mix of the old and new, the new Psion rules manage to both fit entirely within the 4E framework while also standing entirely apart from what has come before. How so?

The Psion gets no Encounter powers.

Instead, they get to choose from various At Wills as they level up - never gaining more than three, but with the ability to select various new ones at higher levels. And each At Will has its normal, non-augmented mode... as well as the ability to use either a minor augment or major augment, costing a certain number of power points. Each Psion has a pool of power points that refreshed on a short rest, and increases as they level.

What does this mean in practice? If a Psion chooses, they can operate pretty much exactly like a normal character. Using a Major Augment on their powers tends to bump it to standard encounter level - so the Psion can use their three At Wills during the fight and expand all their power points to Major Augment them, and then spend the rest of the fight using them at their lesser power level.

But they also could choose to instead use one repeatedly with minor augments, or use one multiple times with major augments while ignoring other powers. Essentially, they can mix and match what powers they want to use and what they get out of it. It makes for an interesting counterpart to the Wizard, who has a massive selection outside of combat, and potentially some limited ability to switch choices in combat - but still has to use what powers he gets the way they are intended. The Psion instead has a limited number of options, but each one of which can be adjusted in a variety of ways.

Daily and Utility Powers work as normal.

So, the question is - is this good design? In the end, that really depends on the powers themselves, and how well they are balanced. Because of how the power points scale, a Psion could choose to pass on their higher level At Wills and stick with some low-level ones that are cheap to augment, and thus can be boosted several times during a fight.... the equivalent, in other terms, of trading a level 27 encounter power for three level 1 encounter powers.

Whether that is a worthwhile trade will depend, again, on the powers. Is it worth gaining the ability to (for example) spend three turns hitting several enemies for low damage and significant attack penalties, when you could instead spend one turn doing slightly higher damage, but leaving them stunned? That seems a trade-off that could go either way, but other specific comparisons might not be as balanced. That is my only worry - some of the low level powers look very, very good, and the ability to get constant use out of them at later levels could be too much.

On the other hand, losing out on effects that stun, dominate, etc... is also a big deal.

At Heroic levels, I have no fears at all - this will be an interesting and engaging class to play. Even at Paragon levels, I think the optimization will balance well with the versatility of the class. And if I have fears about the power at Epic Levels - that's true of most classes, and controllers especially... more options mean more potential, no matter what. I certainly haven't seen any in action yet to know anything for sure!

Anyway, that's a basic overview of the class and what we've seen thus far. What do others think? It looks like the power point mechanic is likely to be in use for most other psionic classes (though the monk didn't use it) - the Psion has a few powers that let them transfer power points, which certainly imply such a thing.

Oh, and lest I forget - they've tied the fluff strongly into the fight against the Far Realm (which looks to be a theme in the PHB3). Psionic characters are theorized as something like the natural world's 'immune system' producing an answer to the threat of the unnatural incursions of the Far Realms (and the various psionic, madness inducing monsters therein...)


This is a simple request for the posters of this board. A request I'm sure will go unheard by many, but one I feel needs to be made - even if its been made before, even if it won't do any good.

Over in this thread, a random poster - Balderstrom - showed up to throw out a bunch of vitriol about 4E. It had nothing to do with the thread, but shortly had derailed the entire conversation and is in the process of drawing the thread into yet another edition war.

First, to those who helped this happen:

To Scott Betts: I will note that Balderstrom's rant probably would have only derailed the thread by a single post - plus the handful following it that managed to successfully dismiss it through simple mockery - while your attempt at a more reasoned dismissal of it only led to derailing the thread for another entire page. I know these things call out for response, but if they seem to be fading away on their own, you really don't need to fan the flames. Or, if you think it needs response... branch it off. Create another post to call the user out. That way, no matter what happens, it won't damage the thread itself.

To Courtfool, Disenchanter, seekerofshadowlight, Matthew Morris, and anyone else who felt the need to call Scott out for his response to a post that blatantly breaks board guidelines:

Come on, guys, is this much response really necessary? Do anyone of you honestly feel that Balderstrom's post - in which he proclaimed how terrible 4E was, how it wasn't D&D, how the only people that would buy it were sheep and Magic players - do you really feel that was a worthwhile post in that thread? That it was an earnest attempt at discussion rather than simply an attempt to incite the edition wars?

I mean, even if you feel that naysayers should be allowed to throw out these sort of complaints somewhere on the 4E forums, do you really believe that was the place for it?

If you believe Scott is out of place in responding to this and trying to act as self-imposed moderator, do you really feel it is appropriate to step in and do the same to him?

And before you ask - yes, I'm aware I'm doing the exact same thing right now! But I'm aware we can't force people to not say what they want to say - which is why I'm not trying to chastise you here, but honestly just asking that you try to take a step back from the situation, even if just for a moment.

The Problem

But the thing is... that request has been made before. Not just by me, of course - there have been countless posters, every time this sort of thing flares up - who recommend that everyone just chill out and ignore whatever gets them riled up. But it clearly isn't possible. There are too many posters too ready to be at each others throats. Too many unwilling to follow that policy, and too many who simply (like Balderstrom) who just show up to attack the people here and then leave. Until another random poster repeats it a week later.

And there isn't anything we can do to truly stop it, because the people who should be doing so... aren't willing to do so.

There is a post at the top of this forum asking everyone to play nice. There is a statement at the very top of every page in this forum that says this sort of thing won't be tolerated. But it is an empty statement! Those that run these boards clearly don't care about keeping things civil here. The flagging system goes completely ignored. Not just attacks on the different editions, but direct attacks on posters, go completely ignored. E-mails to customer service asking them to do something, anything... go completely ignored, without the slightest response. It is supremely disheartening - and proof that if we want to keep this forum remotely civil, we need to do so ourselves.

I'm not going to insist that people who don't like 4E leave these boards because... well, because I can't make them do so, and it isn't my place to try and shout them out of there. All I can do is request that if you do have some criticism to put forward, you try and put it in an appropriate place. If, like Balderstrom, you want to rant about the evils of 4E... just create a new post for it. Let that post devolve into whatever debates people want to engage in. But don't ruin a post that other users actually find interesting!

That, more than anything, is the real issue here: there are plenty of useful, promising posts on this board, filled with intelligent discussion and politely shared viewpoints from all sides... and those posts keep getting hijacked into flaming and namecalling and shouting, and the original conversation is completely lost.

So here's my request to the posters here: It isn't that you avoid all criticism of 4E entirely (I have certainly shared plenty of my own). Not even that you avoid all needless criticism or baseless attacks on the game or its players (though I won't deny I'd be happy if that did die down.) No, all I'm asking is that you don't bring that trash into every single thread. And going a step beyond that, if you see it cropping up and feel the need to respond to it, you create a new thread in which to respond, rather than take the original thread and help to completely overwhelm the ongoing discussion, to the detriment of everyone on this board.

I can't make anyone do anything, and given my typical inability to keep things brief, I have no idea how many have even read this far. But seriously, folks - keep your hostility or not, but can we at least try to not let it actively pollute the parts of this forum that have something worthwhile to offer?


PHB2 has just arrived, and is filled with a lot of new additions to the game. Some of them are old familiar friends - others are innovative and new, and others still are a blend of new and old, taking familiar concepts in fascinating new directions.

So, what inspiration has struck you with these new options on the table? Whether it is changes to your current character, or entirely new characters you suddenly feel the need to play, I'm eager to see it!

My Character Concept wrote:

Samel, the Righteous Child

A thousand lifetimes I have lived, and in each, I have battled against the tide of evil. And that tide has not diminished. I have no more room for mercy or hesitation. Wrath alone shall save this world, and I shall let nothing diminish the righteous anger of my cause!

Race: Deva
Class: Avenger
Deity: Tempus

I found myself wanting to create a new character for Living Forgotten Realms, the current living RPGA campaign. And the presence of the Avenger provided me with a chance to return to a concept I had already been interested in - a righteous warrior of Tempus, FR god of battle and martial prowess.

In part, admittedly, because it is a strong build, with divine worshippers of Tempus having the power to unleash devestating critical hits upon their foes. But also because it would be a distinct change from my current FR characters, all of whom were sneaky ranged attackers that fought from afar, darting in and out of the shadows. Even in past editions, the cunning rogue or crafty wizard has been my most common character type.

So a character who stood at the front of battle, daring the gods themselves to strike him down? That was what I wanted to play next.

Choosing a race, though, was a harder choice. I have been wanting to play a dwarf for a while, and the added durability would be very useful for the character - and none could deny that the dwarf would make for a perfect fit for the concept.

And yet... the Deva really fascinated me. I knew I want to try one out, and they do seem a good fit for the Avenger. But an Avenger of Tempus? It would seem slightly at odds to have a Deva, with such strong ties to the forces of good, turning to an unaligned god devoted only to war and battle.

But then, a bit of conflict can be the key to a truly interesting character.

The Deva fight an endless battle. Life after life, standing against the forces of evil. Even if the memories of past lives are no more than distant dreams... it must be tiring, to be locked in eternal conflict, never to see true victory. What would that do to a soul? Could it gone on like this forever... or would it seek an edge? Turn to a harder path in its determination to win, to triumph.

No matter the cost.

My Character Background wrote:

Samel came to such a conclusion, in his most recent rebirth. Faith alone wasn't enough for victory. Strength was needed. Skill. Courage. Conviction. He found these these things at the side of a wandering priest of Tempus, a mad warrior who was more driven by rage than just cause. But for Samel, it was enlightening. And for his own path, he found a way to combine the two, harnessing the fury of battle in the pursuit of justice.

He is no longer certain if he stands in the light - but he knows with absolute certainty that he stands against the darkness, and for him, that is all that matters.

Deva fight the good fight, not just because it is in their nature... but also out of the fear of what happens to those who stray from the light. "A deva whose soul becomes corrupted risks being reborn as a rakshasa."

Samel has ignored that fear. He is confident in his path, his duty. He is devoted to his fight, and making the most of this lifetime in the battle against those that serve the cause of evil. But the fall from grace takes place one step at a time... he has already sacrificed some convictions to make himself a more hardened warrior in battle. How many more will he make? And even should he find triumph in this life... what will it cost him in the next?