4th edition is not fun to DM


4th Edition

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Jeremy, you mentioned a 4e RotR conversion. Where's that little nugget hidden?

Erm, end threadjack. :)


N'wah wrote:

Jeremy, you mentioned a 4e RotR conversion. Where's that little nugget hidden?

Erm, end threadjack. :)

If you dig around on the Rise of the Runelords forum, you might be able to turn Scott Bett's thread up; I occasionally glimpse it over there. *link to forum*

Edit:
I think it may be this thread, that you are looking for, but have a nose around the other threads, anyway, since it is not the only conversion project underway, and some of the other threads may be of use to you anyway: *link to thread*


There was a dragon article with a whole bunch of kobold variants that was pretty cool, I'm sure they'll be plenty of more of that kind of thing about other monsters for dms looking for a bit more variety. The biggest difference I find is with spell casters. In 3E a dm would have stat out a full suite of available spells and feats for the caster. In 4E you can do that if you want using the guidelines in the dmg, but it's much easier to just pick a few good encounter and daily spells, and then have the mage's at will attacks.

In 3E this could get very cumbersome at high levels. When I used to build a mage in 3E in needed it to be able to keep up with my PCs. So I needed to pick spells and feats carefully, as well as magic items. It was almost as much work as building a 15th level PC from scratch. As an example, take a look at Iggwilv's stat block from savage tide. It's really awesome, but if you were the dm building something like that, it would be a massive amount of work.

N'wah wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

Maybe you should try converting some material? Your problem seems to really be about a lack of quality adventures as opposed to difficulty in prepping.

I suspect that if you sat down and tried to create a Paizo quality adventure from scratch in 3.5 and 4E you'd find that it actually takes far less time to prep a 4E adventure then a 3.5 one. Ultimatly thats one reason for the different rules system for the DM and players. The goal is faster adventure creation for the DM.

Possibly you could look at some of the conversions being done on the boards and maybe even contribute to them. Paizo has some excellent adventures and there are some people that are doing good conversions of them. Now your back more or less were you were with 3.5 using well designed adventures as your prep.

I have to admit, at first the conversions seemed daunting to me, but now it's one of my favorite parts of the adventure. They'll look ugly and stupid at first, sure, but I felt that way designing my own 3.x encounters every time. Eventually, I realized that the PCs didn't notice that they were fighting human bandits again because I described every fight in its own light.

The stats look boring and repetitive, sure. But I don't think they're any more so than with 3.x. Yeah, you could make every kobold different, but I don't think a lot of DMs think its worth the time, in any edition (okay, 2nd edition is an exception, but the difference in a point or two in a stat was pretty slim for a one-shot enemy). stats don't make the monster (except where they do :) )- how you describe it makes the monster.

And if converting sound like a pain, there's some great conversions our fellow Paizonians have made and had the decency to post. There's a few in this forum, actually. Give 'em a whirl. :)


I've been running some Goodman stuff.

Good times thus far.


TheNewGuy wrote:

DMed again last night. We only got through 1 skill challenge and 1 combat. The combat lasted for 2 hours because I planned out the map in advance which gave me the chance to spend a few minutes thinking about monster placement and tactics while the players were arriving and getting settled.

One awesome thing about 4e encounter prep ... I forgot to bring the page that listed out how many of each kind of monster would be in the encounters and I was able to come up with the amount of XP that I wanted the battle to be worth and build the encounter at game time rather than at design time. I think I might do that more in the future. Our group, at full capacity, has 8 players + 1 DM, but the reality is that it varies between 4 and 7 PCs most of the time and we don't usually know until game time how many people will be there. This was difficult to account for in 3rd edition but much, much easier to do in 4e.

It's growing on me as I start to redevelop my bag of DM tricks. I think it's going to take a while to prep up for the next month or so, but I'll get the hang of it and be able to bang out 4 hours of gameplay in less than 4 hours of prep time.

I ran the Kobold Hall adventure on the weekend with 3 PC's( Cleric, Fighter, Rogue) and an NPC cleric( didn't do a great deal to be honest I kept forgetting him).

The first encounter I created was in the ruins above the hall where there were 2 Kobold Minions and a Kobolt Skirmisher. The Rogue tangled with them and managed to kill them with a bit of trouble and the rest of the group who were waiting at the hills bottom hearing a skirmish headed up so I set in 2 more minions and 3 skirmishers. Two of the skirmishers died along with the minions. 1 escaped to alert the rest. After this the adventure ran as per the book.
It ran for 3 hours where the group went through the enrance room which was entertaining, the tomb come Tiamat alter room, then the skull trap room. The party finished the Kobolds and their Drake pets before we had to finish.
All in all it ran pretty well, the players seemed to enjoy it, some more than others. The fighter had used a number of his healing surges but looks to have enough to finish the adventure. The priest was getting stuck in especially on the last encounter.
The rogue(halfling) was all over the place but aiding the group with flanks whilst enjoying himself tumbling past enemies.

I plan to run the last part next week hopefully. The Kobolds were fun to play too. One Kobold who was trapped between the party tried to jump over the pit and succeeded spectacularly, sadly for him it provoked an Opportunity Attack and 3 party members hit him with 2 maces and a warhammer...killing him but also smashing him across the pit. It was like golf with Kobolts.
Can't see any reason for running the game to be tricky other than occasionally poor tactics by the enemies but except for a few elite enemy troops and a few leaders I like to play the commanders frustrasion as his plan to crush the PC's fails abismally and he decides to do the job himself( usually to his detriment!!).

Sovereign Court

doppelganger wrote:
Haelis wrote:


Just my two cents, but I have had a similar experience. I love to be the DM usually, but so far my Dm experiences with 4e have been terribly borring. My one experience as a player was a blast though (even though I died twice in one afternoon).

For me, it was the video game nature of the monsters and NPCs. Everything is just so regimented, so oriented towards being a game and not "reality" translated into a game, that I just can't be interested in the combat.

What is it about the video game nature of 4E that makes the DM aspect of 4E uninteresting but allows the player aspect to be fun? What keeps the PCs from being lifeless series of numbers with no personalities?

Only the players can do that. It's up to them to breathe life into thier characters. It's a bit more difficult for the DM to do that because he has to run multiple "characters", and they will probably be around for only one encounter. The DM really needs help to make combats evocative and memorable,and 4E seems to fall short in this area. I really feel that monsters have lost a lot of their flavor and appeal in 4.0. There were a lot of monsters I would look at in 3.x and think how interesting or cool they were especially with the ecology and other fluff info provided for them. 4E monsters just seem like numbers on a page. There really doesn't even seem like a need to give them names. You might as well call them a level x soldier, skirmisher, etc. In short, the best description I have for 4E monsters is boring. I haven't seen a single monster write-up in 4E that has been the least bit inspiring. Some of them may have interesting mechanics, but that doesn't make up for their lack of personality.

The Exchange

WotC's Nightmare wrote:
Only the players can do that. It's up to them to breathe life into thier characters. It's a bit more difficult for the DM to do that because he has to run multiple "characters", and they will probably be around for only one encounter. The DM really needs help to make combats evocative and memorable,and 4E seems to fall short in this area. I really feel that monsters have lost a lot of their flavor and appeal in 4.0. There were a lot of monsters I would look at in 3.x and think how interesting or cool they were especially with the ecology and other fluff info provided for them. 4E monsters just seem like numbers on a page. There really doesn't even seem like a need to give them names. You might as well call them a level x soldier, skirmisher, etc. In short, the best description I have for 4E monsters is boring. I haven't seen a single monster write-up in 4E that has been the least bit inspiring. Some of them may have interesting mechanics, but that doesn't make up for their lack of personality.

Must every roleplaying aspect of a critter be spelled out before it is fun to play?

Look, each critter in the 4e MM has a section of lore, a description, an illustration, encounter groups, and powers (which in and to themselves are often quite evocative).

If a DM cannot take that information and turn a fight into a memorable encounter then he or she must truly lack imagination.

Sovereign Court

No, but it does help, and DM's need all the help they can get. It really adds to the game to have creatures grounded in the "reality" of the game and be organic parts of the world instead of convenient exp packages for wandering adventurers.

The Exchange

WotC's Nightmare wrote:
No, but it does help, and DM's need all the help they can get. It really adds to the game to have creatures grounded in the "reality" of the game and be organic parts of the world instead of convenient exp packages for wandering adventurers.

Good thing 4e does just that - it takes the critters and places them in the reality of the game. You have all manner of details available for nearly every critter in the 4e MM. Now just add imagination and your set.


WotC's Nightmare wrote:


I really feel that monsters have lost a lot of their flavor and appeal in 4.0. There were a lot of monsters I would look at in 3.x and think how interesting or cool they were especially with the ecology and other fluff info provided for them. 4E monsters just seem like numbers on a page. There really doesn't even seem like a need to give them names. You might as well call them a level x soldier, skirmisher, etc. In short, the best description I have for 4E monsters is boring. I haven't seen a single monster write-up in 4E that has been the least bit inspiring. Some of them may have interesting mechanics, but that doesn't make up for their lack of personality.

If this is really your thing then 2nd edition is for you. The level they took this too in 2nd really has not been surpassed in any edition before or since.


Personally, I never felt that there was much in the way of detail about the monsters in the 3E MM either- at least not compared to the 2E (where monsters got a page each). Some of the later 3E MMs added a bit more to their entries, but the core MM is pretty much stat blocks. As far as I'm concerned, you have to look to other sources to get any real info on the creatures (like the Ecology of articles and such). Most of that fluff stuff you can use just fine with 4E rules anyhow.

I still haven't had much experience running 4E to have decided how I feel about monsters in it yet. I do like that some of the creatures are much beefier in terms of hp.

WotC's Nightmare wrote:
doppelganger wrote:
Haelis wrote:


Just my two cents, but I have had a similar experience. I love to be the DM usually, but so far my Dm experiences with 4e have been terribly borring. My one experience as a player was a blast though (even though I died twice in one afternoon).

For me, it was the video game nature of the monsters and NPCs. Everything is just so regimented, so oriented towards being a game and not "reality" translated into a game, that I just can't be interested in the combat.

What is it about the video game nature of 4E that makes the DM aspect of 4E uninteresting but allows the player aspect to be fun? What keeps the PCs from being lifeless series of numbers with no personalities?
Only the players can do that. It's up to them to breathe life into thier characters. It's a bit more difficult for the DM to do that because he has to run multiple "characters", and they will probably be around for only one encounter. The DM really needs help to make combats evocative and memorable,and 4E seems to fall short in this area. I really feel that monsters have lost a lot of their flavor and appeal in 4.0. There were a lot of monsters I would look at in 3.x and think how interesting or cool they were especially with the ecology and other fluff info provided for them. 4E monsters just seem like numbers on a page. There really doesn't even seem like a need to give them names. You might as well call them a level x soldier, skirmisher, etc. In short, the best description I have for 4E monsters is boring. I haven't seen a single monster write-up in 4E that has been the least bit inspiring. Some of them may have interesting mechanics, but that doesn't make up for their lack of personality.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
WotC's Nightmare wrote:


I really feel that monsters have lost a lot of their flavor and appeal in 4.0. There were a lot of monsters I would look at in 3.x and think how interesting or cool they were especially with the ecology and other fluff info provided for them. 4E monsters just seem like numbers on a page. There really doesn't even seem like a need to give them names. You might as well call them a level x soldier, skirmisher, etc. In short, the best description I have for 4E monsters is boring. I haven't seen a single monster write-up in 4E that has been the least bit inspiring. Some of them may have interesting mechanics, but that doesn't make up for their lack of personality.

If this is really your thing then 2nd edition is for you. The level they took this too in 2nd really has not been surpassed in any edition before or since.

I remember quite a lot of angry protest from people not wanting to switch from 2e to 3e regarding the cut in MM material and the move from the one monster per page format to 3e's multiple monsters per page format. Seems like they were concerned about the game being dumbed down and boiled down to just the combat abilities and nothing else.

The more things change...


Sebastian wrote:
The more things change...

This is just like political debate. People are going to jump on any bandwagon that appears to support their current preferences and ignore or refute anything that does not.


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
WotC's Nightmare wrote:


I really feel that monsters have lost a lot of their flavor and appeal in 4.0. There were a lot of monsters I would look at in 3.x and think how interesting or cool they were especially with the ecology and other fluff info provided for them. 4E monsters just seem like numbers on a page. There really doesn't even seem like a need to give them names. You might as well call them a level x soldier, skirmisher, etc. In short, the best description I have for 4E monsters is boring. I haven't seen a single monster write-up in 4E that has been the least bit inspiring. Some of them may have interesting mechanics, but that doesn't make up for their lack of personality.

If this is really your thing then 2nd edition is for you. The level they took this too in 2nd really has not been surpassed in any edition before or since.

Trouble is how much detail do you include. It's true 2nd edition MM was very detailed whilst the creatures all had the same HD, the Same BAB( Thac0 then ). So whilst all the creatures were detailed the nuts and bolts were the same. It resulted in a very samey combat.

Don't get me wrong it was good fun but when 3rd ed gave us more individual catagories,HD, BAB etc it got more interesting.
The DM does need to do more work but after DMing for as long as I have I come up with the creatures personality, drives with a few words about their character ( greedy, aggresive, cowardly or curious, arrogant but cruel humour etc).
It will make the game harder for new players but experienced DM's will have no problems.
Also I like the fact that I could meet anything now, I hate being a DM from a certain point of view because I know roughly what the critters are like. Now I could meet a manticore that has a spiders body can spit webs it's awesome.


ProsSteve wrote:


Trouble is how much detail do you include. It's true 2nd edition MM was very detailed whilst the creatures all had the same HD, the Same BAB( Thac0 then ). So whilst all the creatures were detailed the nuts and bolts were the same. It resulted in a very samey combat.

Ultimately I think that became a 'feature' of the system. If you think about it that actually pushes the DM to delve deeper into what makes the monsters tick and such in order to provide entertainment during the game.

In any case I'd not really worry in this regards too much. 3rd moved the fluff, by and large, to the splat books. 4E will as well, otherwise its up to the DM to decide how much verisimilitude to add to the monsters. One can be very rigid in this regard including things which monsters like each other or specific ways that different members of a race are the same or one can go with something more free form. Its really up to the DM to choose.

The Exchange

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Its really up to the DM to choose.

This is one very big reason I prefer fluff-lite games. I see the DM as the chief creator of the game world and as such should not be burdened by an enormous amount of fluff.


TheNewGuy wrote:
The new monsters all started to run together in my mind, the confusion at the table was painful (I realize this will go away, but it sucked so much that I don't want to DM again), and it's so much work to prep encounters that it's just not worth it.

These two points are interesting, since

a.) 4E monsters are more distinct than in 3E. 3E monsters were all made from the same building blocks and had few, if any, unique abilities.

b.) Prep time in 4E should be shorter with no skill points to calculate.


TheNewGuy wrote:
These 4e adventures from Dungeon magazine are all for much higher level characters. There are a couple of paragon-tier adventures and most of the rest seem to be high heroic tier. I'm left with "Keep on the Shadowfell," which half the players have a copy of already.

Now this just doesn't seem to make any sense. Your complaint about KotS is that half the players have a copy, but you wish there were more available Dungeon adventures, which they could easily download for free. This may change, of course, once Wizards starts charging for DDI, though I suspect there are enough file sharers out there that the subscription price really won't be a barrier to folks that want the adventures.


meh, it's the best edition so far (IMO) unfortunately YMMV. One thing for sure, I will never go back to the torture of 3E encounter design...ever.


crosswiredmind wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Its really up to the DM to choose.
This is one very big reason I prefer fluff-lite games. I see the DM as the chief creator of the game world and as such should not be burdened by an enormous amount of fluff.

I generally enjoy Fluff as it makes it easier to run an encounter if you've got time to read the Fluff but more often than not I determine what I want from the encounter ( e.g just a fight, treasure gain, direction to the next part of the adventure etc) and put my own fluff in as required.

The fluff does help new DM's tho.


crosswiredmind wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Its really up to the DM to choose.
This is one very big reason I prefer fluff-lite games. I see the DM as the chief creator of the game world and as such should not be burdened by an enormous amount of fluff.

This is probably one of the major reasons we both don't have a problem with 4E. Certainly I expect my monsters to behave in certain iconic ways and to have specific values and behaviours. Its just that these sorts of things have often already been decided for my homebrew. Large chunks of the monster fluff would be essentially ignored by me as I already have a theme I plan to adhere to thats been built up over the last 22 years of DMing my homebrew.

I'm also. like you, on board with a fluff lite version of the basic rules. Leave the fluff for the actual campaign settings.

That said I'm certain that there will be some fluff heavy splat books. Wizards is not about to leave money on the table after all. Hence we can expect to get some fairly fluff heavy monster focused books at some point. The Dracanomicon is already slated and others will follow.


4E is far better for DMing than 4E. While I rather play 3.5 if I'm asked to DM I go 4E.

Sovereign Court

To the OP, the answer is simple. If you don't like DMing 4E, then DM something else or have someone else DM. I tried 4E, and I did't like it, so I don't play it. I play Pathfinder or 3.5 instead. If you are waiting for WotC or Goodman Games to put out adventures good enough to make you want to run 4E, you are probably in for a very long wait. If WotC made 20 4E adventures, one of them might close to the quality and depth of a Paizo adventure. Goodman Games has made almost nothing but straight hack and slash dungeon crawls so I wouldn't expect much in the way of quality adventures from them either.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Everything he's done already is *HERE*. It's jolly impressive stuff!


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
To the OP, the answer is simple. If you don't like DMing 4E, then DM something else or have someone else DM. I tried 4E, and I did't like it, so I don't play it. I play Pathfinder or 3.5 instead. If you are waiting for WotC or Goodman Games to put out adventures good enough to make you want to run 4E, you are probably in for a very long wait. If WotC made 20 4E adventures, one of them might close to the quality and depth of a Paizo adventure. Goodman Games has made almost nothing but straight hack and slash dungeon crawls so I wouldn't expect much in the way of quality adventures from them either.

I realized it's not 4e that I am tired of, it's D&D. I was very burned out and 4e was the only reason I continued with the hobby.


TheNewGuy wrote:
WotC's Nightmare wrote:
To the OP, the answer is simple. If you don't like DMing 4E, then DM something else or have someone else DM. I tried 4E, and I did't like it, so I don't play it. I play Pathfinder or 3.5 instead. If you are waiting for WotC or Goodman Games to put out adventures good enough to make you want to run 4E, you are probably in for a very long wait. If WotC made 20 4E adventures, one of them might close to the quality and depth of a Paizo adventure. Goodman Games has made almost nothing but straight hack and slash dungeon crawls so I wouldn't expect much in the way of quality adventures from them either.
I realized it's not 4e that I am tired of, it's D&D. I was very burned out and 4e was the only reason I continued with the hobby.

Do you have other games that you enjoy? I felt similar to what your saying. 4th edition blew the wind out of my D&D sails along with the edition wars. My solution was to move on to another game all together.


carborundum wrote:
Everything he's done already is *HERE*. It's jolly impressive stuff!

Haha, er, thanks for the plug! Was this brought up in this thread though?

EDIT: Ah, last page. ;p Nevermind.


I like 4e and may return to it at some point. It has many ideas I like but as a DM it just doesn't have what I want right now, but I'm sure I might go to it again someday the same way I still play 2e and basic sometimes, and Shadowrun 3e and 4e and Champions and M&M and even played some Rolemaster under a friend of mine and d6 star wars (as well as d20 variations). My problem with 4e as a DM is in all honesty that I'm not used to it and I don't want to change my ways, concepts like player chosen magic item loot, heavily regimented loot by level and every battle being mass warfare feeling just drains some of my interest. But maybe in a year or so as I get even older the simplicity will drive me to 4e as it is a much easier to run and play game (the lack of 5000 sourcebooks atm as well as the regimented amount of abilities available keep things simple so as to only needing to know 4-5 things ata time as opposed to the huge lists of spells and abilities any given monster could have, espeially at higher level is what I'm talking about)


Stewart Perkins wrote:
I like 4e and may return to it at some point. It has many ideas I like but as a DM it just doesn't have what I want right now, but I'm sure I might go to it again someday the same way I still play 2e and basic sometimes, and Shadowrun 3e and 4e and Champions and M&M and even played some Rolemaster under a friend of mine and d6 star wars (as well as d20 variations). My problem with 4e as a DM is in all honesty that I'm not used to it and I don't want to change my ways, concepts like player chosen magic item loot, heavily regimented loot by level and every battle being mass warfare feeling just drains some of my interest. But maybe in a year or so as I get even older the simplicity will drive me to 4e as it is a much easier to run and play game (the lack of 5000 sourcebooks atm as well as the regimented amount of abilities available keep things simple so as to only needing to know 4-5 things ata time as opposed to the huge lists of spells and abilities any given monster could have, espeially at higher level is what I'm talking about)

Er...player-chosen magic item loot isn't a rule, just a suggestion. Loot isn't heavily regimented if you don't want it to be; it's just an extrapolation of the wealth-by-level table you should be using in 3rd Edition anyway. All battles are not mass warfare, and I'm really confused as to how you could possibly gotten this impression. Most fights don't involve more than ten combatants between the PCs and monsters - hardly "mass".


Scott Betts wrote:


Er...player-chosen magic item loot isn't a rule, just a suggestion. Loot isn't heavily regimented if you don't want it to be; it's just an extrapolation of the wealth-by-level table you should be using in 3rd Edition anyway. All battles are not mass warfare, and I'm really confused as to how you could possibly gotten this impression. Most fights don't involve more than ten combatants between the PCs and monsters - hardly "mass".

Is larger then a lot of 3.5 fights however though maybe not that much larger then much of what we have been seeing for the last couple of years or so since the general design consensus is that single enemies in 3.5 simply don't have enough actions to handle a whole party and therefore really need mooks. Presumably its this general consensus that directly led to 4E having on average more enemies in an encounter.

In any case its possible to somewhat reduce the number of enemies in 4E by making more of the opponents elites and solo's. Not sure I'd recommend this as an approach consistently however as there is a heck of a lot to be said for variety.


I've had almost the exact opposite reaction from the OP. By the end of my last 3.5 campaign, at around 15th level, I was so tired of guys with laundry lists of spells, crazy numbers of attacks each round and immeasurable numbers of magic items. We had a monk/sorcerer in the group who could reliably drop 280-300 damage a round with touch attacks. The game had really gotten dull for me. 4e is quick, lively and much easier to adjudicate on the fly. The players are much more limited in their number of actions, which means that they take their turns faster. Plus, converting things to 4e is a breeze. Want to make a new monster or NPC - 15 minutes, tops, regardless of what level you're shooting for. Try making an Epic NPC or monster for 3.5 in that time!


Scott Betts wrote:
Er...player-chosen magic item loot isn't a rule, just a suggestion. Loot isn't heavily regimented if you don't want it to be; it's just an extrapolation of the wealth-by-level table you should be using in 3rd Edition anyway. All battles are not mass warfare, and I'm really confused as to how you could possibly gotten this impression. Most fights don't involve more than ten combatants between the PCs and monsters - hardly "mass".

I go with the basics of D&D, magic items are a random thing, I put in what I'd like the party to use or something that they showed an interest in.

I'll not be sticking to the items in the PHB but will put in new items( and old items of previous editions) of interest with interesting querks that won't break the game.

As for large scale battle like combats I havn't seen it much difference from 3.5 on that end. I mean you can in combat throw an extra couple of minions into the encounter but it's hardly an army.
At the most combat encounters are like the Fight in Balins Tomb in Lord of the Rings.

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