4th edition is not fun to DM


4th Edition

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I've been very much looking forward to 4th edition and I was excited to finally play. Our group wound down its 3.5 campaign and I pretty much got drafted into DMing 4e. The two guys who wanted to DM both backed out once they realized the the DM rules were totally different from the player rules and they really wanted to play characters.

I prepped up for our first game and ran it last week.

It was my least favorite gaming experience, ever. I didn't enjoy being in the DMs chair (I DMed two 3.5 campaigns and LOVED DMing). 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.

I might enjoy playing, but at this point my first time out of the gate playing 4th edition was so painful that I don't want to play again. The players ALL had a great time and said it was one of the best games they'd played in a long time.

I'll give them that. They had a great time. I did not. The thing is, the rules are 10 times better than 3rd edition (IMO) so I don't want to go back to playing that game, but the WotC adventures have been so uniformly uninteresting that I don't want to use them, either.

This is my rant about 4th edition. I have to DM again this week and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm going to need a break from D&D for a few months once I can finally end this campaign.

*EDIT: This is just my experience. Like I said, I've been very much looking forward to playing 4e, but DMing is more work than I want to put into a hobby.

The Exchange

TheNewGuy wrote:
This is my rant about 4th edition. I have to DM again this week and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm going to need a break from D&D for a few months once I can finally end this campaign.

I am sorry that you had such a bad time. My experience has been quite the opposite. I am a long time GM (30+ years). In fact I GM far more than I play and quite like it that way. To me 4e is most GM friendly edition of D&D to date. I have GMed two LFR mods just this last weekend and did not need to crack open a rule book once. Granted the first few 4e games I ran were not as easy since I did not know the rules or have a good feel for the game. There were so many 3e rules that I needed to get out of my head.

Once I got a good grasp of the game it ran so smoothly and required so little prep that I can never go back to GM 3e.


crosswiredmind wrote:
Once I got a good grasp of the game it ran so smoothly and required so little prep that I can never go back to GM 3e.

I'm finding it to be more work than 3e to prep. At least with 3rd edition there were good adventures from Paizo. I just can't get into the published 4e adventures or the ones in DDI Dungeon. I try to read through them and get excited, but I can't.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
TheNewGuy wrote:
crosswiredmind wrote:
Once I got a good grasp of the game it ran so smoothly and required so little prep that I can never go back to GM 3e.
I'm finding it to be more work than 3e to prep. At least with 3rd edition there were good adventures from Paizo. I just can't get into the published 4e adventures or the ones in DDI Dungeon. I try to read through them and get excited, but I can't.

I'm finding "The Paizo Factor" to be the main drawback to 4e. It seems that I have become hooked on the richness of the Adventure Paths and anything less is not enjoyable to me anymore--and neither the WotC adventures or the DCCs come close.

The Exchange

TheNewGuy wrote:
I'm finding it to be more work than 3e to prep. At least with 3rd edition there were good adventures from Paizo. I just can't get into the published 4e adventures or the ones in DDI Dungeon. I try to read through them and get excited, but I can't.

True. I am running or have run mostly WotC mods and have not written anything from scratch. I am hoping that a revised GSL leads to much better published adventures.

That being said the prep time I was referring to was the time it takes me to go over the encounters, understand the critters, and set up the flow of gameplay.


Yeah. It would be nice if they were willing to do 4e adventures, since it's such a fun, streamlined rules system and Paizo makes such interesting, tight adventures. The 4e ruleset really does make 3.0/3.5/PRPG look like a Pinto next to a Corvette and Paizo's adventures do the same thing to WotC's adventures.

But I live in Manhattan, have a high-stress tech job, there's a retirement to plan, I'm taking a Brazilian portuguese class (to retire to Brazil), and a girlfriend who is much more fascinating than any solo or elite monster. I'm spending 2-3 hours prepping for a 4 hour weekly game that I now no longer enjoy. That's an extra day of work that I do.


crosswiredmind wrote:

True. I am running or have run mostly WotC mods and have not written anything from scratch. I am hoping that a revised GSL leads to much better published adventures.

That being said the prep time I was referring to was the time it takes me to go over the encounters, understand the critters, and set up the flow of gameplay.

When I was running adventures out of Dungeon in 3.5, it was a breeze. I could read through the whole thing in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, and then the night before the game I reviewed what I expected to run and made note of any rules I thought we'd need.

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.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I am running my own homebrew and making adventures on the fly is easy. On two occasions I've actually had nothing prepared due to my hectic schedule and still pulled together some epic fun.

Then again, I am a god amongst men* so your mileage may vary.

*

Spoiler:
Mom, My; "After my 8th grade girlfriend dumped me." 1994.
Detroit, MI


Heh. Switch edition numbers around and the OP's comments mirror mine at the end of the Age of Worms game I ran.

Different strokes n' all that - 4E isn't your cup of tea no big deal. I have found the exact opposite to your experiences but I have also been writing my own adventures. AoW burned me out on adventure paths.


I've been converting and running "Second Darkness" for 4E. I'm not finding the conversions to be too bad so far. I've been posting the stat blocks on the Second Darkness thread as I do them, so if anyone is interested in running that AP with 4E, I'll be posting my conversions regularly. You might find you want to tweak them a little, as they aren't perfect by any means, but they've been serving my needs fine. So far the game has been going great, but we've only done 3 sessions. I couldn't get into the any of the Wizards adventures- too much mindless hack and slash for me.

Scarab Sages

I've been running a Homebrew 4.0 game for a couple of months now and I find running the game much easier than 3.5. I stumbled through the first couple of games until I figured out the tactics of each monster after that the game took off. I agree the monsters do kind of run together in abilities and amount of monsters. The difference is in the tactics of each monster. If you put the right combo of monster tactics in the right setting a second level monster encounter can whoop ass on a level 5 party. the big adjustment is the proper tactical use of minions to position party members so the big monsters can use their powers to the greatest effect.


I've pretty much found 4E to be a lot of fun to run and very easy to make / convert adventures for it.

Dark Archive

I haven't had a chance to run 4e yet and I will concur with other posters that the adventures put out by WotC have been rather lacklustre. There has been some good reviews of the Goodman stuff like Sellswords though.


Its supposed to be real easy to stat up things for 4E - just run Paizo adventures with 4E stats.


Wotc has never had good adventures unless they were done by freelancers. The GSL has really hurt the 4e players who want to by and room some good adventures not every one has the time to make stuff from scratch.

Th the OP there are other games out there man if 4e isn't your thing, both d20 based and not. I wouldn't waste my time on a game I was not enjoying. Tell your group that your not enjoying it and ask for someone else to run it or the run a different game.


TheNewGuy wrote:

I've been very much looking forward to 4th edition and I was excited to finally play. Our group wound down its 3.5 campaign and I pretty much got drafted into DMing 4e. The two guys who wanted to DM both backed out once they realized the the DM rules were totally different from the player rules and they really wanted to play characters.

I prepped up for our first game and ran it last week.

It was my least favorite gaming experience, ever. I didn't enjoy being in the DMs chair (I DMed two 3.5 campaigns and LOVED DMing). 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.

I might enjoy playing, but at this point my first time out of the gate playing 4th edition was so painful that I don't want to play again. The players ALL had a great time and said it was one of the best games they'd played in a long time.

I'll give them that. They had a great time. I did not. The thing is, the rules are 10 times better than 3rd edition (IMO) so I don't want to go back to playing that game, but the WotC adventures have been so uniformly uninteresting that I don't want to use them, either.

This is my rant about 4th edition. I have to DM again this week and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm going to need a break from D&D for a few months once I can finally end this campaign.

*EDIT: This is just my experience. Like I said, I've been very much looking forward to playing 4e, but DMing is more work than I want to put into a hobby.

I gotto ask, what did you find hard work about it?


ProsSteve wrote:
TheNewGuy wrote:
It was my least favorite gaming experience, ever. I didn't enjoy being in the DMs chair (I DMed two 3.5 campaigns and LOVED DMing). 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.

This matches my experience in that every action has to be mapped out and a difficulty factor assigned. There is a lot less DM flexibility in interpretation from previous editions.

Using modules is one approach, but if you want to strike out on your own then 4.0 is a bear to run.

It is kind of like writing an adventure in Never Winter Nights come to think of it. Every encounter, every decision has to have a mechanic associated with it.

That just occured to me while reading this thread and writing the response.

It is less fun, because it feels to me like there is less creativity and interpretation by the GM.

If you are running pure dungeon crawls then I can see where the new rules would be easier to come up with a session.

In service,

Rich

Go to The Original Dr. Games Site.


This is certainly a shame that it was so rough for you, especially since making DMing easy is one of the goals of 4E. While I've found that to be the case, it sounds like you have not - and while some of that is inevitably simply the difference in adapting to a new system, hopefully there is some way to help make it easier for you (even in the absence of solid premade adventures to run.)

So, let's look at the three concerns you listed, and see what advice might be available (hidden behind spoiler tags due to length):

1) Lack of Monster Individuality

TheNewGuy wrote:
The new monsters all started to run together in my mind

Spoiler:
Was the issue here the distinctiveness of monsters as far as flavor, or simply how it felt to run them?

If the first case, the only suggestion I can give is to put in a variety of creatures - if you have a goblin stronghold, perhaps they have some dire wolves as pets, the assistance of a mercenary band consisting of dragonborn warriors led by a war troll, and finally some demon allies their shaman has summoned. While it can sometimes be unusual to see different creatures working together, it might remove some of the problem if you are ending up running lots of encounters of similar creatures fighting in similar fashion.

If the second issue is the problem - which is to say, it is a more mechanical problem, where they all feel the same when you run them in combat - then I would recommend trying to include a diverse number of monster 'roles' in each fight. Each combat can have some brutes or soldier who wade into melee, get the attention of the enemy, and are tough to take out; perhaps some skirmishers or a lurker that perform hit and run tactics, focusing on the weaker members of the party; and an artillery or controller that gives support from a safe spot in the back, either blasting the party or unleashing effects that will hinder them in combat.

These can even all be the same type of creatures - for a level 3 fight with goblins, you might have two goblin skullcleavers who smash into the front line of the party; a goblin warrior and 2 goblin blackblades who sneak around and try to pick off the weaker party members; and a goblin hexer that bolsters his allies while blinding enemies or unleashing painful magics that hinder them. They are all goblins, but they fight differently on the table.

I'm not sure if either of these suggestions actually addresses the problems you were running into, but hopefully it helps to some extent.

2) Table Confusion

TheNewGuy wrote:
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)

Spoiler:
Again, I'm not sure what the specific issue was here - was it general unfamiliarity with the new rules, resulting in players needing to constantly reference the rules or refresh themselves on how their powers worked? Was it simply the difficulty of tracking conditions and effects like which enemies are marked/cursed/quarried/etc? Or was it general player rowdiness, random table talk and distraction from the game itself?

It sounds like the first situation, since you think it will fade in time - and, really, that might be all there is to that. If it was enough of an issue to be really frustrating during the last game, you can try to make an effort to reduce it during the next session - ask the players to try and have actions ready on their turn, figuring out what power they will use in advance, and thus play can keep moving while people look up what they need to know while it isn't their turn.

If the situation is partially keeping track of things, there are a number of solutions people have come up with - colored tokens, beads, or writing down conditions on notecards to hand to players, and various similar tools that can make tracking things easier. But I imagine, if your time is already short enough that you don't want to spend more time preparing for the game, that these might not be the best method for you.

One simple rule is to simply have everyone track conditions they are responsible for - if a player has an enemy cursed, they are responsible for remembering that and mentioning it when it is relevant. That way you, as the DM, don't have to know absolutely everything, and can just remember the most important things for planning out enemy actions and tactics.

In the end, as you say, many of these problems will become lessened as players become familiar with the system. The best thing I think you can do right now is just mention to the players any areas you feel are really causing you pain, and ask them to help keep things moving more smoothly as best they can - if you aren't enjoying the game as the DM, it is really in their best interests to help fix that however they can!

3) The Workload of Prep Time

TheNewGuy wrote:
it's so much work to prep encounters that it's just not worth it.

Spoiler:
How are you going about building encounters? Are you taking monsters and giving them templates or otherwise customizing them to fit the level/encounters you are running? Or are you simply assembling a group of creatures for each fight, which should be reasonably straightforward.

If you are doing a lot of customizing to get precisely what you want, that might be what is making the process so long. A better method might simply be 'reskinning' monsters - if your goblin tribe is actually led by a powerful ogre, and you want a level 6 Elite Ogre to fill the role, simply grab the stats of a Cave Bear and call it an Ogre instead.

If the issue isn't designing the creatures themselves, but assembling the encounter as a whole, it might simply be something that will get easier as you become more familiar with the xp budget. An easy guide to assembling a fight is that for each PC in the group, you can include one monster of that PCs level. Using that as a guideline, it should be reasonably quick to put together encounters pretty quickly. And, this way, if a player unexpectedly is missing, you can simply remove an appropriate monster without having to do any calculations at all.

The issue might be more than the monsters, but simply crafting the encounters as a whole - coming up with interesting terrain and scenery to encourage the PCs to perform interesting stunts and actions during combat. In this case, I'd say not to try and plan such things out in advance - instead, simply place them in an area you think looks interesting, don't worry about what the combat effects of any terrain might be... and instead, let the PCs be the ones to figure out what to do with it. If you have a room filled with chairs and tables, once a player decides to toss a table onto some goblins, you can grab the DMG, go to page 42, tell them to make a Strength check of the appopriate DC, and do the appropriate damage if it succeeds.

This way, when you put the encounter together, you don't need to plan out every aspect of the environment - figuring it out as it becomes relevant should make things easier than preparing for it in advance.

I don't know if these solutions address the specific problems you are having, but I tried to cover what possible areas sounded like they could be the problem. DMing certainly shouldn't be as agonizing as it sounds like it was for you, especially if you have previously enjoyed DMing.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Our first few games were slow, but I found that to be largely a function of learning the rules. I had a playtest session with a single player before our first game and ran things very slowly to make sure we were getting all the rules right. The first session after that, I still missed about 1/2 to 1/3 of the rules. I reread the combat chapter and things got better for the second session. At this point, I feel fairly comfortable with my knowledge of the rules on my side of the table, but I have to rely heavily on the players for whatever nuttiness they are doing. A big difference from 3e is that there aren't a small number of possible maneuvers that the PCs can attempt. As a result, I find myself constantly asking "What is that ability again?" I've almost learned all their at-will powers, but not the encounter or dailies.

Anyway, I think the learning curve at the table is pretty steep because it's very similar to 3e in some ways but completely different in others. Damage is not nearly as significant, and if you try to run a 3e style combat where everyone stands still and trades blows, it is a bit boring. Again, I'm not all the way up this learning curve - I still tend to forget my NPCs have interesting abilities, but I'm slowly getting there.

The prep has been amazingly easy. I needed a wasp swarm, so I took the rat swarm, gave it a fly speed, and declared it a wasp swarm. I built the platforms over hot mud room from White Plume Mountain in an hour or so, and it ran fairly smoothly. I'm not sure it would have been as easy for me under 3e rules.

Long story short, the learning curve is a bit steeper than I expected, but it has become fun to run.

The Exchange

DrGames wrote:
Using modules is one approach, but if you want to strike out on your own then 4.0 is a bear to run.

I disagree. I use published mods because I have no time to write my own. All of that time is taken by my WFRP campaign. But if I had to roll my own 4e mods it would be very easy. It would be justas easy if not easier than rolling my own 3e mod - especially at high levels.

DrGames wrote:
It is less fun, because it feels to me like there is less creativity and interpretation by the GM.

Why? 4e places the same basic limits as 3e in terms of the creation of combat encounters. Both 3e and 4e use skills out of combat to resolve sticky situations. All other problems are resolved through role playing.

I can't see any objective restriction to GM creativity in 4e that were not already a part of the game.


I find that my "prep" for D&D is creating interesting NPCs, writing interesting description and flavor for the places the adventurers go, and so on. I rarely have to crunch numbers. Improvising encounters at the game table is also a lot easier. Overall, I enjoy the game more, although I still think the 4e adventures need to "catch up," as far as quality goes. I find myself wanting to translate adventures from previous editions.


DrGames wrote:

Using modules is one approach, but if you want to strike out on your own then 4.0 is a bear to run.

It is kind of like writing an adventure in Never Winter Nights come to think of it. Every encounter, every decision has to have a mechanic associated with it.

That just occured to me while reading this thread and writing the response.

It is less fun, because it feels to me like there is less creativity and interpretation by the GM.

I really haven't experienced this in designing and running adventures in 4E. In some places, planning out the encounter - and how terrain and obstacles will affect it - can be fun. But in other situations, I don't need to plot out an answer to every possible action the PCs could take (a problem I ran into rather often in 3.5, due to balance issues.) Similarly, I don't need to stat out the possible uses of every piece of furniture or creative interaction with the enemies or the environment - I can use the DMG guidelines and keep the action flowing with a quick response on the spot.

Mileage may vary, I suppose - but I've definitely found that designing 4E adventures has been a very creative and enjoyable experience.

But that said, my experiences are only of so much help to the original poster here, as I tend to put a lot of time into it regardless of the system. It sounds like the main issue is that he would like to run pre-crafted adventures, and wants to find whatever means possible to slim down the time it takes to design one's own adventure.


TheNewGuy wrote:


...
It was my least favorite gaming experience, ever. I didn't enjoy being in the DMs chair (I DMed two 3.5 campaigns and LOVED DMing).
...

I'll give them that. They had a great time. I did not.
...

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. And I love combat usually...
I suppose I just had a lot of fun stating up monsters and NPCs in 3.0/3.5/AE/Iron Heroes. I cared about the encounters and I imagined the NPCs and monsters. When I DM 4e now, I just feel like I am running lifeless series of numbers with no personalities.

But anyway, I think you will have more fun as a player so don't give up on 4e. I would also prefer to be a player in this edition.

One last thing: 4e and 3e are so different that they might as well be two seperate games. It therefore makes sense that you may not have as much fun being the DM in one as in the other. To illustrate my point, I have had a lot of fun being a DM for 3rd edition games, and for Feng Shui, but I never want to DM Shadowrun or Vampire or Gurps because of the game system.

I think different systems have different appeals not just for the players, but also for DMs.


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?


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?

A possible explanation is that PCs are dealing with 1 character and they are developing them, with an end game in mind (usually).

DMs are dealing with lots of creatures, most (if not all) of which are designed to be entirely disposable. There is no love there :)


I love my monsters. I feel sad when they die.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

Not to highjack the thread, but well... I'm going to be DMing my first 4e game in about three weeks. Is there anything I might want to know, any advice anyone has that will make the experience flow faster and be more fun for me and the players? Help a brother, share your wisdom!


James Martin wrote:
Not to highjack the thread, but well... I'm going to be DMing my first 4e game in about three weeks. Is there anything I might want to know, any advice anyone has that will make the experience flow faster and be more fun for me and the players? Help a brother, share your wisdom!

One thing I'll offer is to have looseleaf copies of the monster stats, whether you're printing, photocopying, or handwriting them, or whatever. The abilities of different creatures are complicated and interact, just like the PCs' abilities do, and you really do not want to be flipping Monster Manual pages.


All I gotta say is I love DMing 4e a lot. It's easier, more intuitive, and takes a lot less of my time to prepare for than v3.5 did (with a family, time is important).

I will admit that why I enjoy the game so much might be that I play a lot of different kinds of games, and so the change to the 4e system is a lot less stark for me.

I actually have DM points on my RPGA membership for the first time in 3 years.


Pat o' the Ninth Power wrote:
James Martin wrote:
Not to highjack the thread, but well... I'm going to be DMing my first 4e game in about three weeks. Is there anything I might want to know, any advice anyone has that will make the experience flow faster and be more fun for me and the players? Help a brother, share your wisdom!
One thing I'll offer is to have looseleaf copies of the monster stats, whether you're printing, photocopying, or handwriting them, or whatever. The abilities of different creatures are complicated and interact, just like the PCs' abilities do, and you really do not want to be flipping Monster Manual pages.

I have to agree, I ran part of the 1st SOW AP, recently and having my printer died, I just wrote notes as to what creatures were each encounter and other various notes like I would in 3rd and when it came to some of the encounters the 3 types of critters are in entirely seperate parts of the book and I wound up forgetting many of their cooler abilities due to flipping around.


Haelis wrote:
TheNewGuy wrote:


...

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. And I love combat usually...
I suppose I just had a lot of fun stating up monsters and NPCs in 3.0/3.5/AE/Iron Heroes. I cared about the encounters and I imagined the NPCs and monsters. When I DM 4e now, I just feel like I am running lifeless series of numbers with no personalities.

I gotto say, I cannot agree with this statement!!! Any creature,NPC, enemy soldiers or DM run character in ANY game can be a lifeless, number orientated, video game drone if you don't put life into them. What your describing is poor DM'ing not a poor game.

If you start an encounter with a Lich lord by yelling 'initiative' and rolling dice then you've sucked the life from the encounter.

If however the party have moved into a dark forboding library room, with old dusty books lining the many shelves. A large,heavy desk covered in parchment with and a old solid wooden chair behind it can be seen toward the one end( draw quick layout). What appears to be old purple rags in the chair slowly moves,showing it to be an thin figure wearing old robes.
A skull like head lifts a hood of the robes and from hollow eye sockets a pair of ice cold points of light suddenly blaze blue as a hollow voice issues from between the skulls teeth "Why are you here, how dare you enter my home without being asked".

At this point the party could spring to the attack or converse with the lich. The chances are there will be fight but the encounter regardless of the system becomes interesting. Liches were powerful in Hand to Hand in 3rd ed but rarely got to use those abilities due to the 100's of spells they had to cast. Now they will need to use these weapons.


For what historical perspective/interest it might have:
*link to thread from last year on if DMs anticipated that they would enjoy running 4E?*


I'm sorry the original poster had a tough time in his first run at DMing 4th Edition. Like others, I've found DMing 4E abundantly easier and more fun than 3.x ever was. I think the the game is way, way easier to run, manage and prepare for. I've been able to run several gaming sessions without having to refer to a single book. Perhaps after a session or two more the original poster will hit his or her stride. I say keep trying.

Sadly, none of the commercially published adventures for 4E are great - a problem I lay squarely on the shoulders of Wizards of the Coast. But, a willing DM can usually tweak things like Keep on the Shadowfell or some Scales of War fare into something presentable. And, Living Forgotten Realms has had some pretty good ones.

Just wanted to add my voice to those that love DMing (and playing) 4E. Happy gaming.

Don (Greyson)


TheNewGuy wrote:

Yeah. It would be nice if they were willing to do 4e adventures, since it's such a fun, streamlined rules system and Paizo makes such interesting, tight adventures. The 4e ruleset really does make 3.0/3.5/PRPG look like a Pinto next to a Corvette and Paizo's adventures do the same thing to WotC's adventures.

But I live in Manhattan, have a high-stress tech job, there's a retirement to plan, I'm taking a Brazilian portuguese class (to retire to Brazil), and a girlfriend who is much more fascinating than any solo or elite monster. I'm spending 2-3 hours prepping for a 4 hour weekly game that I now no longer enjoy. That's an extra day of work that I do.

Maybe you should just hand over the DM responsibilities to someone else and go back to being a player.


ProsSteve wrote:


I gotto say, I cannot agree with this statement!!! Any creature,NPC, enemy soldiers or DM run character in ANY game can be a lifeless, number orientated, video game drone if you don't put life into them. What your describing is poor DM'ing not a poor game.

If I did those kind of things, then yes, I agree it would be my fault as a DM. But I am more inclined to the types of descriptions which you just used.

I am trying to discern why myself and the OP feel that being a DM is less fun than in 3e, and for me I believe it is the monsters.

I think the way monsters were in 3e allowed me to use more imagination when creating encounters whereas when I DMed a 4e encounter involving kobolds, I felt as if they had to do exactly what they could.

Hmm that might not be clear, let me try again. If I look at a kobold in 3e, I can design him to be anything. Two identical kobolds can do entirely different things. They will be as useless in melee as they are at ranged combat.

But when I choose a kobold in 4e, I feel as if I am DMing a robot instead of a real race. Sure I can have him yell, scream, do stupid stuff, but he is still going to be doing pretty much the same thing in combat that he was designed to do: engage with shield, throw stuff with a sling, use magical orbs, be a minion and die...

The game is great for my kids however, and they are having a blast, so I thank WotC for that. Perhaps as I continue to DM, I will start to enjoy it again, but for now, I will grit my teeth and continue to DM so that my kids can have fun (they reached third level and have not stopped all week asking me when we can play next :))


Haelis wrote:

Hmm that might not be clear, let me try again. If I look at a kobold in 3e, I can design him to be anything. Two identical kobolds can do entirely different things. They will be as useless in melee as they are at ranged combat.

But when I choose a kobold in 4e, I feel as if I am DMing a robot instead of a real race. Sure I can have him yell, scream, do stupid stuff, but he is still going to be doing pretty much the same thing in combat that he was designed to do: engage with shield, throw stuff with a sling, use magical orbs, be a minion and die...

Monster design in 4E should make this an invalid point. You can design 4E kobolds to be anything, all you have to do is give them different powers. If you're only using the ones presented in the MM then they'll only do what those ones are designed for. But you can design kobolds to fill any niche you want.

It's a lot easier than in 3.x where I spent 3 hours the other night statting out a 10th level kobold druid. In 4e I could've just picked a few things I wanted it to be able to do and measured him up against the DM's chart. I wouldn't have had to pick dozens of spells, buy magic items, stat out his wild shapes, stat his animal companion, pick skills and feats....


ghettowedge wrote:


It's a lot easier than in 3.x where I spent 3 hours the other night statting out a 10th level kobold druid. In 4e I could've just picked a few things I wanted it to be able to do and measured him up against the DM's chart. I wouldn't have had to pick dozens of spells, buy magic items, stat out his wild shapes, stat his animal companion, pick skills and feats....

I suppose this comes down to a matter of DMing taste then? That was really something I enjoyed. As for the choice of kobolds, I was running the first official adventure. That might be a cause of my dissatisfaction. As others have said in this thread, it is not of the highest quality and its encounters may have contributed to my feelings of using robots.

The Exchange

Haelis wrote:
ghettowedge wrote:


It's a lot easier than in 3.x where I spent 3 hours the other night statting out a 10th level kobold druid. In 4e I could've just picked a few things I wanted it to be able to do and measured him up against the DM's chart. I wouldn't have had to pick dozens of spells, buy magic items, stat out his wild shapes, stat his animal companion, pick skills and feats....
I suppose this comes down to a matter of DMing taste then? That was really something I enjoyed. As for the choice of kobolds, I was running the first official adventure. That might be a cause of my dissatisfaction. As others have said in this thread, it is not of the highest quality and its encounters may have contributed to my feelings of using robots.

... and that's fine. Not enjoying a mod that you run is very different from condemning the entire edition.


Haelis wrote:
ProsSteve wrote:


I gotto say, I cannot agree with this statement!!! Any creature,NPC, enemy soldiers or DM run character in ANY game can be a lifeless, number orientated, video game drone if you don't put life into them. What your describing is poor DM'ing not a poor game.

If I did those kind of things, then yes, I agree it would be my fault as a DM. But I am more inclined to the types of descriptions which you just used.

I am trying to discern why myself and the OP feel that being a DM is less fun than in 3e, and for me I believe it is the monsters.

I think the way monsters were in 3e allowed me to use more imagination when creating encounters whereas when I DMed a 4e encounter involving kobolds, I felt as if they had to do exactly what they could.

Hmm that might not be clear, let me try again. If I look at a kobold in 3e, I can design him to be anything. Two identical kobolds can do entirely different things. They will be as useless in melee as they are at ranged combat.

But when I choose a kobold in 4e, I feel as if I am DMing a robot instead of a real race. Sure I can have him yell, scream, do stupid stuff, but he is still going to be doing pretty much the same thing in combat that he was designed to do: engage with shield, throw stuff with a sling, use magical orbs, be a minion and die...

The game is great for my kids however, and they are having a blast, so I thank WotC for that. Perhaps as I continue to DM, I will start to enjoy it again, but for now, I will grit my teeth and continue to DM so that my kids can have fun (they reached third level and have not stopped all week asking me when we can play next :))

I don't mean to be funny but your kids are...well kids. I've been the chairman of a Wargaming(and a bit of roleplaying) for 20 years and kids are happy with any game where a DM can say'there are four nasty looking little creatures up ahead in the corridor are you going to fight them' which normally responds with an enthusiastic 'yeah, I'll hit them with my sword, or my magic bolt things...etc' so you've set the background for the creatures in 4th edition as 1 dimentional XP gains. You may as well call the end guy Wario.

Try roleplaying with adults and a different thought process.
I've had the same games in 2nd edition,3rd edition, Judge Dredd etc.


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.

Dark Archive

James Martin wrote:
Not to highjack the thread, but well... I'm going to be DMing my first 4e game in about three weeks. Is there anything I might want to know, any advice anyone has that will make the experience flow faster and be more fun for me and the players? Help a brother, share your wisdom!

See also Pat's response, but I'll add a reccommendation to get the player's powers onto something. Notecards, sheet of paper, printed out Publisher document (our group's method of choice)- as long as it isn't just the PHB. Have them leave spaces so they can erase the attacks and damage for when those change (new level, magic weapons, etc.). With the monster stats on-hand in an easy to view format and the players having easy access to their powers, you've eliminated 90%+ of your in-game lookup time. Add in a quick photocopy of pg. 277 of the PHB (the condition summaries) and you're darn close to never having to open your books during the game.

It adds a bit of prep time, but power cards really only need to be done when players get new powers, and I've found that after a while getting your monster stats ready to go can actually be fun and illuminating ("oh, that's what that ability does," or "hmm... I'll have to remember that one").

Just some thoughts, and good luck!


Haelis wrote:

I think the way monsters were in 3e allowed me to use more imagination when creating encounters whereas when I DMed a 4e encounter involving kobolds, I felt as if they had to do exactly what they could.

Hmm that might not be clear, let me try again. If I look at a kobold in 3e, I can design him to be anything. Two identical kobolds can do entirely different things. They will be as useless in melee as they are at ranged combat.

But when I choose a kobold in 4e, I feel as if I am DMing a robot instead of a real race. Sure I can have him yell, scream, do stupid stuff, but he is still going to be doing pretty much the same thing in combat that he was designed to do: engage with shield, throw stuff with a sling, use magical orbs, be a minion and die...

Out of curiousity... what about the kobolds in 3rd Edition avoided this problem?

Now, you've mentioned part of the issue is that you are running through KotS and feel like the kobolds in each encounter feel bland and predictable. But if the encounter was written in 3rd Edition, and each encounter was just a pack of 3e kobolds, I'm not sure what would be any different. The little guys in 3e had pretty much no options, right out of the book - as you say, they can choose to be useless in melee or choose to be uselee in ranged combat. ;)

If you wanted to make any of them interesting, you needed to modify them or design them to be more than just a basic kobold. But that's an option in 4E as well - if some of the kobolds feel bland, there are plenty of ways to change them up.

Honestly, I feel it is quite the improvement that all the kobolds have different tricks - it makes the race as a whole feel more diverse. And while maybe they should be shaken up a bit - and I found terrain, and having monsters take advantage of an interesting environment, helps with this - I'm not sure the situation would be improved if all those kobolds only had the option to stab with spears or throw rocks with slings.

Anyway, just asking out of curiousity. I can certainly see where your feeling on 4E monsters is coming from, as each monster entry tends to hae a few attacks and play similarly from one battle to the next. I'm just a little curious about what, for you, made this not an issue with 3e kobolds - and whether whatever helped there, might be able to be applied to the 4E versions in some fashion.


we'll wizards couldn't please everyone with their quick and easy monsters, and minimum game prep time, and emphasis on gaming rather than some kind of naturalism.

Too bad you that guy , eh? I think the rest of us are having a blast OP

Logos
~hey im going to prep my game in the 15 mins before it tomorrow and actually get everything done as well as i would have in like 2 hours of 3.x yay me


TheNewGuy wrote:
crosswiredmind wrote:
Once I got a good grasp of the game it ran so smoothly and required so little prep that I can never go back to GM 3e.
I'm finding it to be more work than 3e to prep. At least with 3rd edition there were good adventures from Paizo. I just can't get into the published 4e adventures or the ones in DDI Dungeon. I try to read through them and get excited, but I can't.

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.

The Exchange

Logos wrote:

we'll wizards couldn't please everyone with their quick and easy monsters, and minimum game prep time, and emphasis on gaming rather than some kind of naturalism.

Too bad you that guy , eh? I think the rest of us are having a blast OP

Logos
~hey im going to prep my game in the 15 mins before it tomorrow and actually get everything done as well as i would have in like 2 hours of 3.x yay me

Please don't be mean.

Dark Archive

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 have DM'ed some demo's but currently I am playing. I take over as DM at fifth level. My issues with 4e are not DM related. So far my issues are PC related. Could it be that you are trying to help the players run their characters too much and it is distracting you?

To explain, players have a lot of things changing from round to round. Do we get the Warord's bonuses? If we use action points, did we remember the Warlord bonus? What did the Cleric do to me this round, Heal or Buff? Wait, did I add my Dragonborn's bloodied bonus? Was that guy marked? Was that guy cursed or was it the other kobold? And we are only second level. Now if a DM was trying to track all that; just give up. The players need to take care of thier own business.


Duncan & Dragons wrote:

I have DM'ed some demo's but currently I am playing. I take over as DM at fifth level. My issues with 4e are not DM related. So far my issues are PC related. Could it be that you are trying to help the players run their characters too much and it is distracting you?

To explain, players have a lot of things changing from round to round. Do we get the Warord's bonuses? If we use action points, did we remember the Warlord bonus? What did the Cleric do to me this round, Heal or Buff? Wait, did I add my Dragonborn's bloodied bonus? Was that guy marked? Was that guy cursed or was it the other kobold? And we are only second level. Now if a DM was trying to track all that; just give up. The players need to take care of thier own business.

If I understand the OP correctly the real problem is prep time. He mentioned having to spend 2-3 hours prepping for a 4 hour game and feels that a pretty high price to pay. Personally I prep about 4 hours for a four hour game and thats probably fairly average for many DMs.

However if you have a goal of doing no more then an hour or maybe an hour and a half in prep then what you really need is good adventure modules. There is just no way you could design compelling adventures in either 3.x or 4E with an hour and a half - hell forget doing it in 1st or 2nd either. Can't be done - not unless your one of those DMs that can weave a brilliant story on the fly.

However if you get a good grip on the encounter design system you might be able to, just barely, design just the monster encounters for a 3.5 adventure while using the plot, boxed text, etc. etc. from the 3.5 adventure. That might be harder to pull off in just an hour then one would think - you still have to read the adventure after all and then make notes as to what needs to be changed to accommodate the new monsters or possibly different rules.

In nine months we'll be swamped with adventures for 4E but at the moment there is only a couple of choices for any level.

Personally I suggest either going with the 4E AP and living with its faults, using Scotts conversion of RotRL - but there is a danger here that you'll outrun Scott's design work. He's thorough but not that fast. Or biting the bullet and trying to get a conversion of something your interested in going along with some fellow DMs.

The biggest problems with the conversions I've seen so far is that this message board is not really a very good place to work collaboratively. Its pretty much just everyone putting up their ideas for a conversion but no real attempt to compile that in some manner into a final product.

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