Question for DMs - What Do / Don't you like about 4e so far?


4th Edition

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Liberty's Edge

Hmmm, perhaps I'm misreading the power. I read it as the Barbarian and his/her opponent become a completely different sub-combat that no other player can interfere/assist in, and takes place all on the same initiative count. Is this not right? So in theory multi-rounds of hack'n'slashing (i.e. basic attacks) can occur before the next count in the initiative cycle can occur?

I agree joela completely but this power is an exception to the rule - it makes the fight 1 on 1. Just seems like the Barbarian would only invoke the power if they knew they could win thus the DM would be unlikely to keep the duel going (unless compelled to). Just seems not an ability that would be widely used.

S.

PS: I really am trying to get a better understanding of the 4E workings from those who have played more than I. I am not 4E bashing, my comments/questions are only asking about holes think I see. These may be real, or only due to my lack of 4E experience. Going from v3.5 --> 4E is a HUGE jump, 2E --> 3E was less of a complete mindset/rule change to my group and I.

Contributor

Stefan Hill wrote:
TSR's old byline was "products of the imagination" - I still play that way. If I want to move plastic/metal figures around on some squares I'll break out my chess set.

Exactly. I've got a chess set, and I also have a box of LEGO minifigs that can be customized pretty easily, but they've been in the other room for ages, and if we need markers for characters, distinctive dice work just fine.

Dark Archive

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:
TSR's old byline was "products of the imagination" - I still play that way. If I want to move plastic/metal figures around on some squares I'll break out my chess set.

Exactly. I've got a chess set, and I also have a box of LEGO minifigs that can be customized pretty easily, but they've been in the other room for ages, and if we need markers for characters, distinctive dice work just fine.

I'm from AD&D 1st edition. Skipped 2nd edition and went to 3.x and, later 4e. It was my players, who played 2nd edition, who wanted the battle mats, not I, when I started my 3.x campaign.


Stefan Hill wrote:
So let me get this right Scott. Your Barbarian can take down a creature meant for your level quickly using only Basic attack vs Basic attack. Why then do you need "powers" at all? Shouldn't a creature vs a player of equal "level" using no powers be almost a 50:50 battle (ok slight favour to the player as they are the heroes)?

No, because for player melee characters, their basic melee attack is usually roughly as powerful as their at-will. On the other hand, many monsters suffer a great deal if they are unable to use their non-basic attacks - elites and solos, especially.

Also, barbarians are quite tough to kill - between temporary hit points, resist all and the ability to stay standing at negative HP. If this were a wizard using the same power, the wizard would get rocked. The whole point of Final Confrontation is that you lock your target into a mode of combat that favors you, the barbarian. Depriving your enemy of the things that make him powerful (extra attacks in the same action, recharge powers, encounter attacks, movement and ranged abilities) while enabling your own strengths (melee attacks) means that you significantly shift the odds in your favor. Which, of course, if why most intelligent monsters will get wise rather quickly to the idea that squaring off against the barbarian like this is not the wisest choice.


Stefan Hill wrote:
Hmmm, perhaps I'm misreading the power. I read it as the Barbarian and his/her opponent become a completely different sub-combat that no other player can interfere/assist in, and takes place all on the same initiative count. Is this not right? So in theory multi-rounds of hack'n'slashing (i.e. basic attacks) can occur before the next count in the initiative cycle can occur?

Yes. I've seen someone describe it as the D&D equivalent of a ball of violence - a furious melee where only one will emerge alive if allowed to continue. It's the natural extension of what a barbarian exists to do: kill the enemy with little to no thought for his own safety.

Stefan Hill wrote:
I agree joela completely but this power is an exception to the rule - it makes the fight 1 on 1. Just seems like the Barbarian would only invoke the power if they knew they could win thus the DM would be unlikely to keep the duel going (unless compelled to). Just seems not an ability that would be widely used.

It's still used every day if only because you always get that first, 7[W] attack, which is a monstrous amount of damage. Also, the barbarian will sometimes use it when he knows he can't win - as long as he has healers close by, he can afford to keep attacking until he is just barely hanging onto life. The party leader(s) will patch him up right away and his enemy will be missing a pretty substantial chunk of life.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks now I understand the mechanics and why. Now for the tricky one, er, how does this happen (game world). Let's say 2 "rounds" of basic attacks, so about 12 seconds. What is the rest of the world doing? Standing around placing bets? Or is this meant to be a furious exchange, in which case how/why does the monster also get these extra attacks? Having trouble picturing the execution of the power. Would I say something like;

"All you and your opponents pause mid swing as out of the corner of your eyes you spot the Barbarian yelling a challenge at his foe. With a bestial roar the <insert monster here> runs head long at the Barbarian. Only one will survive!"

???

Contributor

joela wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:
TSR's old byline was "products of the imagination" - I still play that way. If I want to move plastic/metal figures around on some squares I'll break out my chess set.

Exactly. I've got a chess set, and I also have a box of LEGO minifigs that can be customized pretty easily, but they've been in the other room for ages, and if we need markers for characters, distinctive dice work just fine.

I'm from AD&D 1st edition. Skipped 2nd edition and went to 3.x and, later 4e. It was my players, who played 2nd edition, who wanted the battle mats, not I, when I started my 3.x campaign.

My players are mix of 1st ed and 3rd ed players, without any 2nd ed players I can think of. No one has really wanted battle mats. I've brought one out on occasion when I felt I wanted to and it would make the adventure easier, but for the most part, really not needed.

The Exchange

Scott Betts wrote:
The primary reason they continued with this philosophy is that their research showed them that people really like to play D&D with minis.

Scott, I would take this just a little bit further and go people really like to play D&D with minis that actually match the monsters/characters in question.

We can talk about "minis not required" all we want to, but I'm going to tell you that I painted my first miniatures in 1978, the "Official D&D ones" made be Grenadier, painted with Testors enamels while using a shaved toothpick. The group I played with ALL used figures, and we'd been using them since pretty much the beginning of the hobby. Grenadier, Ral Partha, and a whole lot of companies got their start creating miniatures specifically for D&D, so we cannot wave a hand and say they weren't an important aspect of the hobby, necessary or not.

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
My players are mix of 1st ed and 3rd ed players, without any 2nd ed players I can think of. No one has really wanted battle mats. I've brought one out on occasion when I felt I wanted to and it would make the adventure easier, but for the most part, really not needed.

Please understand that these are only going to be very limited generalizations. For example in my above statement, that is what 10 people did in a hobby of what? Hundreds of thousands? Definitely NOT a very meaningful cross-sample, were we? However, it's important, I think, to show that there are many different approaches to this hobby. Group A may hate minitures. Group B may love them. The hobby supports both. 4E may not however, and I appreciate your stance. Me, I suppose I could do 4E without mats, but I kinda like having all that stuff going on. The players at my tables do too, and we've been doing it that way for over 30 years.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks TigerDave, you cut to the point of the matter;

"Group A may hate miniatures. Group B may love them. The hobby supports both. 4E may not however, and I appreciate your stance."

4E means you have to either like miniatures or makes massive changes to the way 4E plays or (as we have chosen) play another game entirely (Pathfinder). I am just saddened that the new D&D has almost forced me to change the way I (and my group) has liked to play for the last 24 years. I'm pleased for the people who have used miniatures over the years and seen the rules develop in their favour. Now I would love WotC to release a non-miniatures rule set as in principle I like the idea of the new D&D just not the miniatures based implementation.

S.

PS: TigerDave - my first figs would have been "Orcs of the Severed Hand". Never painted them due to complete lack of talent. :)

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Stefan Hill wrote:
TSR's old byline was "products of the imagination" - I still play that way. If I want to move plastic/metal figures around on some squares I'll break out my chess set.

The game grew out of miniatures-based wargaming, so it's really not odd that miniatures are a significant part of many people's way of playing it. Little figures are just part of the imagining.


TigerDave wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
The primary reason they continued with this philosophy is that their research showed them that people really like to play D&D with minis.
Scott, I would take this just a little bit further and go people really like to play D&D with minis that actually match the monsters/characters in question.

Ah, yes, absolutely. That's a very worthwhile point.


Stefan Hill wrote:

Thanks now I understand the mechanics and why. Now for the tricky one, er, how does this happen (game world). Let's say 2 "rounds" of basic attacks, so about 12 seconds. What is the rest of the world doing? Standing around placing bets? Or is this meant to be a furious exchange, in which case how/why does the monster also get these extra attacks? Having trouble picturing the execution of the power. Would I say something like;

"All you and your opponents pause mid swing as out of the corner of your eyes you spot the Barbarian yelling a challenge at his foe. With a bestial roar the <insert monster here> runs head long at the Barbarian. Only one will survive!"

???

In D&D (of any edition) a round lasts longer than the amount of time it takes to swing a sword. Therefore, an attack roll in D&D does not necessarily represent one swing of the sword. It's an abstraction, and represents six (or ten) seconds of combat maneuvers, with all combatants attacking, dodging, parrying and otherwise trying to gain the upper hand.

Final Confrontation changes this. I picture it as the barbarian throwing caution to the wind. Screw parrying. Screw dodging. The barbarian is pitting his blade against his enemy's body and his foe's blade against his own, and only one will be left standing. Instead of the turn including all of this other combat miscellany, the Final Confrontation is a ball of heedless violence. The barbarian purposefully opens himself to attack in order to focus on a stronger offense. His opponent can opt to do the same. This lasts until one of them dies or chickens out and returns to a more reasonable, cautious style of fighting.


Stefan Hill wrote:

Thanks TigerDave, you cut to the point of the matter;

"Group A may hate miniatures. Group B may love them. The hobby supports both. 4E may not however, and I appreciate your stance."

4E means you have to either like miniatures or makes massive changes to the way 4E plays or (as we have chosen) play another game entirely (Pathfinder). I am just saddened that the new D&D has almost forced me to change the way I (and my group) has liked to play for the last 24 years. I'm pleased for the people who have used miniatures over the years and seen the rules develop in their favour. Now I would love WotC to release a non-miniatures rule set as in principle I like the idea of the new D&D just not the miniatures based implementation.

I've seen this sort of opinion before, but I still really don't understand, what's the opposition to using tokens/minis? I was opposed to them myself due to the ridiculous prices & random packs (the "gotta-catch-em-all" syndrome), until I poked around and bought a bunch of back-stock minis for <$1 each. Plus, as you (and others) point out, everybody's got stuff lying around that they could use as quick-markers, or between craft stores, image-software, online art, and a pair of scissors, make your own spiffy tokens.

And as for a battle map, I distinctly recall my little brother & his buddies filling up countless spiral notebooks with their ruler-drawn maps all through junior & senior high school. And they had fun, AFAIK.

If it's not the expense, and not the ready customization, what's the reason? Playing D&D in the car? The principle of the thing? If you dig the rules enough to try them out, why let game pieces (or their lack) get in the way? (Spoken as someone whose cats & little siblings used to constantly eat/lose game pieces over the years...)

Sovereign Court

mandisaw wrote:


I've seen this sort of opinion before, but I still really don't understand, what's the opposition to using tokens/minis? I was opposed to them myself due to the ridiculous prices & random packs (the "gotta-catch-em-all" syndrome), until I poked around and bought a bunch of back-stock minis for <$1 each. Plus, as you (and others) point out, everybody's got stuff lying around that they could use as quick-markers, or between craft stores, image-software, online art, and a pair of scissors, make your own spiffy tokens.

And as for a battle map, I distinctly recall my little brother & his buddies filling up countless spiral notebooks with their ruler-drawn maps all through junior & senior high school. And they had fun, AFAIK.

If it's not the expense, and not the ready customization, what's the reason? Playing D&D in the car? The principle of the thing? If you dig the rules enough to try them out, why let game pieces (or their lack) get in the way? (Spoken as someone whose cats & little siblings used to constantly eat/lose game pieces over the years...)

I see asking this something along the lines of asking...i don't really understand , what's the opposition to eating chocolate? ...

If it's not the expense and not the health detrimint what's the reason?

You're asking why someone doesn't like doing something the way they don't like doing it. it doesn't have to make any logical sense, they just don't like it.

Contributor

lastknightleft wrote:

I see asking this something along the lines of asking...i don't really understand , what's the opposition to eating chocolate? ...

If it's not the expense and not the health detrimint what's the reason?

You're asking why someone doesn't like doing something the way they don't like doing it. it doesn't have to make any logical sense, they just don't like it.

Actually, there are a number of logical reasons not to like minis.

Beyond the expense, the fragility, the storage and lugging issues (I can put all my books in a bookcase and put the ones I'll need for an evening in a satchel, but endless tackle boxes get a bit much) and so on, the main trouble I have with them is that they get in the way of the imagination.

If I tell my players that my tieflings do not have ginormous horns or crocodile tails, I don't want to have a figural reference at odds with that. Nor do I particularly like the business of "And the part of the evil necromancer this week will be played by the same minifig who was the bishop's ghost last week and the drowned sailor two weeks before that." It's like having a theatre company with the same pool of actors and only one costume. And it doesn't help that the majority of the minifigs are posed in these absurd "sturm und drang" attitudes.

I'll admit I do have some minis, but mostly because they were freebies at cons or because they were exquisite miniature works of art that I like to put in a shadowbox and look at occasionally. But they really don't suit my gaming style.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

Actually, there are a number of logical reasons not to like minis.

Beyond the expense, the fragility, the storage and lugging issues (I can put all my books in a bookcase and put the ones I'll need for an evening in a satchel, but endless tackle boxes get a bit much) and so on, the main trouble I have with them is that they get in the way of the imagination.

If I tell my players that my tieflings do not have ginormous horns or crocodile tails, I don't want to have a figural reference at odds with that. Nor do I particularly like the business of "And the part of the evil necromancer this week will be played by the same minifig who was the bishop's ghost last week and the drowned sailor two weeks before that." It's like having a theatre company with the same pool of actors and only one costume. And it doesn't help that the majority of the minifigs are posed in these absurd "sturm und drang" attitudes.

I'll admit I do have some minis, but mostly because they were freebies at cons or because they were exquisite miniature works of art that I like to put in a shadowbox and look at occasionally. But they really don't suit my gaming style.

It sounds like all of your problems would be fixed by simply using a counter-based system instead of actual D&D character minis.

Sovereign Court

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

Actually, there are a number of logical reasons not to like minis.

sounds to me like you just countered with all the reasons you don't like chocolate.

Truth is there isn't a single solitary reason or group of reasons people should or should not like playing with minis. Fact is you do or you don't, list all the reasons you do or don't that's fine, but unless you are willing to change that prefrence based on what people tell you about getting around your issues then what's the bother. for the record I do think it is a failing of 4ed that it is harder to play without a mat, and I prefer a mat in fact I have a room with a table that has been covered end to end with a laminated battle grid.

I'm just saying trying to argue for or against a certain playstyle is kinda an effort in futility. You can list 1000 reasons chocolate is great and your not gonna make a person who doesn't like chocolate change their mind.

Liberty's Edge

Hi Guys,

I think all the reasons given above are true for me not using miniatures also. The primary one is the distraction from the "character" the players have. It would be very unlikely for you to have miniatures that reflect the actual players, and again unlikely to have a miniature that actually looks like the description you just gave. In your mind all things look exactly as described - by definition. The use of counters while no more or less correct in all likelihood to the things the players are facing than the miniatures, again just a distraction. In 3rd edition we gave mats a go and people still said things like "I move 15' and attack X", in 4th Ed. all I heard was "I move 3 squares and crushing blow X". Big difference when trying to keeping the characters in the game world. The use of the mat just seems to psychologically place more emphasis on the combat aspects of D&D, and for our group "Homey don't play that way".

Just so you get an idea of a combat as I see it...

Fight with some Orcs say (only melee weapons)
3.xE
Players looks at the map (meaning the little map of the room/area - not the 1" = 5' battle mat)
(1) Roll initiative (player A, B, Orcs, C, D)
(2) A Charges and attacks with sword, says a number (hits), rolls damage.
(3) B wants to flank, DM says AoO may occur (i.e. determines in his/her head that there isn't enough room to safety get by) - player still goes ahead
(3a) AoO from an Orc
(3b) B attacks the flank of an Orc, says a number (hits), rolls damage.

etc

4E
Setup battle map
(1)Roll initiative (player A, B, Orcs, C, D)
(2) A moves speed+2 squares and attacks with sword using Power X, says a number then says what it is against (AC, Ref etc) (hits), rolls damage then says other effects of the attack.
(3) B takes a calculated zig-zag move to avoid AoO and get flanking bonus... etc

I my opinion the first has the DM is in control of the game deciding what would be the most exciting/correct during the combat. In the second example the DM can play a boardgame with his/her friends. We just found players (and myself) slipping into putting yourself in places that make sense only from a "game mechanics" point of view when using battle mats.

I try hard to make a consistent game world and the "mini-boardgame" that now seems a requirement (or your not playing the game) for a combat just doesn't suit our games - ipso facto 4E doesn't suit our games.

Some reasons for MY opinions on not using miniatures,
Stefan.


Totally not a map and minis guy either. Though for us, that hasn't kept us away from 4e at all. In fact we got our local game store owner so hooked on playing in our heads rather than on a map, that when I told him I was going to demo a D&D game for the halloween party using maps and minis to help promote them--he just freaked out. He thought maps and minis would totally ruin it. I loved that.

Oh hey, a couple more metaplot reveals:

Shom, the white desert plane, was once the realm of the Illumians, a fallen race originally created by Ioun as imbodiments of knowlege. They created Shom themselves using the Words of Creation Ioun had emblazoned upon them. Eventually though their seperation from the world twisted their society into rival cabals that tore the plane apart. A few have made their way into the world, but their civilization is lost.

Originally Graz'zt was the archdevil lieutenant of Asmodeus sent to recover Tharizdun's shard of evil from the Abyss. He lauched a huge campaign of conquest but became bogged down in the fighting and was unable to escape. Eventually he opted to reject his devil heritage and became a demon lord and constructed his domain within the Abyss.


Stefan Hill wrote:


I would be interested to know the age bracket of those who like/dislike 4th Ed. I am wondering if us older GM's (GMing for some 24 years now) feel 4th ed. is a board-game/RPG hybrid and newer GM's feel that 4th ed. helps control their game by having the clear cut "game board" combat system?

I would be interested to know the average penile girth of those who like/dislike 4e. I am wondering if less well endowed GMs (unlike myself) are more prone to enjoy the "board game" combat system?

Cripes.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


For example the single most popular magic item among my party and even probably among my NPCs is Anklet of Translocation for its price the ability to blink 10' feet twice a day is phenominal (and one of the many sources of the blinking all over the place that takes place every round in my games) but without a grid being able to blink 10' is probably not nearly so exceptional. My players all have one, your players likely put their money somewhere else.

Magic items in my campaigns are a little like hens teeth... :)

I work on the theory that if anyone can buy magic items at the local 7-eleven then smart bad guys are going to have protection against such things. 4 of the same item in the party, simple... Mordenkainen’s Disjunction, well that's what I would have done in previous editions.


I've been enjoying 4E for the most part, but there are things I like and dislike about both 3E and 4E. One thing that I've found annoying about 4E is that in an effort condense the stat blocks of monsters, the designers are leaving out a lot of details about the abilities of the monsters. For example, I was just looking at the vampire stat block, and it has a power called blood drain which says that the vampire must have combat advantage, and that it makes an attack that is +12 vs Fort and does 2d12+8 damage etc... However, it doesn't actually say anywhere that the vampire is biting its victim (but I assume from prior knowledge that this is the case), and assuming it is than why is the attack vs Fort and not AC? Other creatures that make bite attacks have to hit AC. Presumably, it can attack Fort instead of AC because it has combat advantage and can thereby more easily bypass the armor and defenses of its victims, but once again, none of this is explicitly stated, and it is left entirely up to the dm to interpret. The vampire isn't so difficult in this regard because we come in with so many base assumptions about vampires, but with more obscure monsters this lack of explicitness leads to much confusion, and makes it difficult to bring the monsters to life.

The Exchange

lastknightleft wrote:
You're asking why someone doesn't like doing something the way they don't like doing it. it doesn't have to make any logical sense, they just don't like it.

I wonder if it also might have something to do with how each of us interpret and process data.

Spoiler:

For example, I am a spatial thinker. My mind creates a three-dimensional interpretation of the universe that allows me to do things like play chess without a board, etc. With or without minis, I'm having a good time!

My wife, on the other hand, is a very visual thinker. She needs to SEE what is happening. I can't describe a scene to her and believe she's going to be able to recreate it in her mind. Without minis she would be lost.

My assumption on all of this is that what you're seeing is a group of spatial thinkers that are able to create a visual representation with a decent amount of accuracy not wanting to deal with the clutter of the battle mats and figures because they can do it all. In fact, having misrepresented figures and two-dimensional terrain may actually CHEAPEN the experience for them when their own brain can imagine a much richer scene and fill it in with additional colors and textures such as rugs and tapestries, lighting sources, sounds, smells etc.

My biggest concern always resides in how we tend to casually dismiss each others' likes and dislikes as if ours was the only CORRECT way to interpret things. Such an approach certainly ISN'T within the spirit and scope of a cooperative game like D&D!!

When it comes to slides, pulls, shifts and other movement techniques in regards to the game, the important thing to remember is that these are specific terms used to define abstract elements. After 3 decades I still hear players who roll below their To Hits saying "I swing ... and miss." No, it's more than one swing as was mentioned above. So, applying the same principle but in reverse, those who prefer not to use mats can take the "you shift one square" into something more descriptive. Take a fighter's Covering Strike move. Rather than "you shift Player X one square ..." convert it to:

Player A: "Ranald engages the ogre and attempts to distract him enough with a Covering Strike so that Melthranda can maneuver herself behind him (rolls dice) ..."

Player B: "Melthranda sees Ranald distract the ogre long enough for her to ready her long knives and silently slide behind him!"

(Caveat - the actual name of the move might NOT be Covering Strike, but it should be close enough for you to look up the text. The important part is the concept, not the textual accuracy of the example)


P.H. Dungeon wrote:
For example, I was just looking at the vampire stat block, and it has a power called blood drain which says that the vampire must have combat advantage, and that it makes an attack that is +12 vs Fort and does 2d12+8 damage etc...

But think about how great that feels. A character is distracted, stops paying full attention to the vampire he's been fighting because one of its minions has come up behind him. Suddenly like a snake *boom* the vampire lunges forward and latches onto the character, plunging fangs into his neck. I like that the bite happens when the character is granting combat advantage. Especially were you to be fighting a number of vampires at the same time, and every time you take your eyes off one they go after you. That's just great.

Now that said, my biggest complaint about the Monster Manual is that they stripped it down of a lot of the flavor text I really loved (the second edition Monster Manual was the best of the bunch in that regard) but I think the new mechanics are wonderful in how much more flavor they imbue the monsters with--they fight like they feel, finally.

Granted there's some weird abilities--both for monsters, but especially PCs that are just really hard to visualize. But on the whole monsters now seem to have the ability to do the things they should be doing.

Heh. Like the Samara Morgan "Ring" ghost in Open Grave. AAAHH! That's just wrong.


I like a lot of the monster mechanics as well (except for spellcasting NPCs, which now seem really lame), but I would like more description and clarification/description about how they're powers are supposed to function in the context of the game world, as opposed to just how they function in the context of the game's mechanics.

Grimcleaver wrote:
P.H. Dungeon wrote:
For example, I was just looking at the vampire stat block, and it has a power called blood drain which says that the vampire must have combat advantage, and that it makes an attack that is +12 vs Fort and does 2d12+8 damage etc...

But think about how great that feels. A character is distracted, stops paying full attention to the vampire he's been fighting because one of its minions has come up behind him. Suddenly like a snake *boom* the vampire lunges forward and latches onto the character, plunging fangs into his neck. I like that the bite happens when the character is granting combat advantage. Especially were you to be fighting a number of vampires at the same time, and every time you take your eyes off one they go after you. That's just great.

Now that said, my biggest complaint about the Monster Manual is that they stripped it down of a lot of the flavor text I really loved (the second edition Monster Manual was the best of the bunch in that regard) but I think the new mechanics are wonderful in how much more flavor they imbue the monsters with--they fight like they feel, finally.

Granted there's some weird abilities--both for monsters, but especially PCs that are just really hard to visualize. But on the whole monsters now seem to have the ability to do the things they should be doing.

Heh. Like the Samara Morgan "Ring" ghost in Open Grave. AAAHH! That's just wrong.


Stefan Hill wrote:
I my opinion the first has the DM is in control of the game deciding what would be the most exciting/correct during the combat.

Decloaking here. I might be reading too much into your "DM is in control" sentence, but this helped clarify my thoughts on this issue of mat or no mat

This is the precise reason I like to play with a mat. It’s one less thing that a DM has to have control over. A DM has enough on his plate that if he doesn’t have to worry about where everybody is in a fight, he can concentrate on describing the actions of his pieces, on if or when reinforcements for one side or the other will come into the scene, what happens when somebody steps near the alter of unspeakable evil, and who will be in the attack area of the partial ceiling collapse if a support is removed. That’s a lot to keep in mind for the DM and while not a much to keep in mind for the PC it is still a lot, without some visual representation of at least the basic layout of the fight scene and locations of the PCs and monsters.

Plus I think it speeds up play to use a mat and miniatures, since the DM doesn’t have keep answering questions like this: If I can move around monster Y to provide flanking bonus to PC X without incurring an AoO, than I’ll do that. Else if I can move to monster Z and still attack, than I’ll do that. Else I’ll move to the nearest monster and attack it. Imagine a scene where you have 5 PC, 10 monsters, and 2 traps that will trigger on moving into certain parts of the scene and trying to keep that all in your head if the PCs are moving around from round to round and the monsters are too.

If you have trouble imagining the halfling mini that represented the little thief from the last combat and that now represents the wizard in the current combat, won’t you have trouble imagining the 220 lb guy playing the scrawny sorcerer and the 120 lb guy playing the burly dwarf?

A mat and miniature system is just a HUD (heads up display) to represent spatial relationship on top of your imagination.

Now a list of likes and dislikes of 4ed

Like
1 – The dynamic feel of the combats
2 – The balance between classes
3 – The encounter creation process

Dislikes
1 – Monster creation (specifically guidance on what monster powers are appropriate for which tier)
2 – The quirky names of some of the Powers
3 – The kluge of the skill challenges (I think they described them poorly initially and in the errata)

Contributor

Mercy wrote:


If you have trouble imagining the halfling mini that represented the little thief from the last combat and that now represents the wizard in the current combat, won’t you have trouble imagining the 220 lb guy playing the scrawny sorcerer and the 120 lb guy playing the burly dwarf?

In a LARP, yes, as I'm looking at him. And even then various differences can be gotten around with costuming. I've seen a 6'2" man and a 5'2" woman both play the same character, who was supposed to be a twelve year old boy. But with mannerisms and costuming, this can be gotten around.

In tabletop? Not at all. Players who are decent actors will pitch their voices differently, use different mannerisms and figures of speech and whatnot. And I'm not necessarily looking at them.

What I don't like is representations that are at odds with what I'm supposed to be imagining.


Mercy wrote:

Dislikes

1 – Monster creation (specifically guidance on what monster powers are appropriate for which tier)

Mercy, I'd be happy to walk you through a few strategies for monster creation. It does require something of a feel for the system, but there are a few tricks that can help a great deal.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
What I don't like is representations that are at odds with what I'm supposed to be imagining.

I think Mercy's point was that, regardless of how you might minimize its importance (by not looking at people when they act in character, or ignoring the bass still present in the voice of the guy playing the female elf, or not taking issue with the odd pausing in the player's speech as he tries to inject flavorfully appropriate figures of expression), when a scrawny 18 year-old is playing a hulking, tattooed barbarian bedecked in finely wrought magical equipment, that is at odds with what you're supposed to be imagining. You deal with it just like most of us deal with having miniatures - you gloss over the discrepancy because your imagination is in charge.

Contributor

Scott Betts wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
What I don't like is representations that are at odds with what I'm supposed to be imagining.
I think Mercy's point was that, regardless of how you might minimize its importance (by not looking at people when they act in character, or ignoring the bass still present in the voice of the guy playing the female elf, or not taking issue with the odd pausing in the player's speech as he tries to inject flavorfully appropriate figures of expression), when a scrawny 18 year-old is playing a hulking, tattooed barbarian bedecked in finely wrought magical equipment, that is at odds with what you're supposed to be imagining. You deal with it just like most of us deal with having miniatures - you gloss over the discrepancy because your imagination is in charge.

Certainly you can gloss over the discrepancy--but why even bother having one? It's unnecessary.

I can understand that some people like playing with miniatures, and I can understand even more that some people really like people to buy miniatures, but requiring miniatures for someone to play a game is annoying.

I'm reminded of the short-lived collectible "bunk" cards for the 1st edition of Changeling. Collectible trading cards were all the rage then, and while the players thought they made really pretty bookmarks, nobody could stand playing with them.


Let me see if I have the gist of the Game Mat Issue. For some it is a feature. For some it is a bug. That about cover it?


Russ Taylor wrote:


The minis line was actually hugely profitable during its first several years, allegedly much more so than D&D itself. Indications are that sales really didn't start to flag until DDM 2.0 came out, but I haven't heard they were UNprofitable - just trending that way, so they revamped the line before exhausting it. I've commented elsewhere on not thinking the revamp will save it, though. I think they just burned through all the accumulated demand for pre-painted minis, and will need to settle for their lower sell rates.

Not what I was reading. DDM 2,0 was a last ditch desperate attempt to turn a line that was doing badly around. It failed, now they are trying something else. May or may not fail. Though, like you, I think they are in trouble in this regards due to the saturation of the market.

You can get a feel for the points at which they were starting to gt increasingly concerned in checking when they first jacked up the price. After that they felt that they could not jack up the price again adn a few sets came out where they tried to save money by cutting down on the number of paint steps (significantly reduced quality) - however that really infuriated collectors...so they tried to reboot but that did not work either so finally they abandoned DDM altogether for the current product.

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:
Let me see if I have the gist of the Game Mat Issue. For some it is a feature. For some it is a bug. That about cover it?

That about covers it! :)

Main issue with 4E and miniatures is it is like the old "MS Windows" and "IE Explorer" issue - tightly integrated into the system allowing no real freedom to choose. There was 3E and D&D Mini's, now 4E is both rolled into one. The idea of miniatures isn't bad, the idea of not using miniatures isn't bad. What is bad is WotC has decided what is the best way to play a fantasy roleplaying game by fact of rule design*. This now is something they can't easily change without a major rewrite.

*If someone has a link/reference to a WotC study that shows that nearly all gamers use mini's in D&D and that was the reason for the new rule design assuming mini based play then please post.

Scott Betts wrote:


I think Mercy's point was that, regardless of how you might minimize its importance... You deal with it just like most of us deal with having miniatures - you gloss over the discrepancy because your imagination is in charge.
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


Certainly you can gloss over the discrepancy--but why even bother having one? It's unnecessary.

I think Kevin's point for example if we take a Star Wars movie. "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." [picture the Death Star hanger bay. A group of 30 Stormtroopers run by] The front Stormtrooper wearing Nikes, you ignore because its such a great movie, in the next scene one Stormtrooper has Nikes, and another is wearing a baseball cap. Hmmmm, you think idiot director - still great movie... Next scene half the Stormtroopers are dressed as carrots. Sure I can "gloss" over these visual images because the movie is so great, but they sure aren't helping me believe I'm on the Death Star!

S.

Liberty's Edge

I know this is sort of off topic, but is DDM 1.0 or 2.0 or 4E a better miniatures game? I mean if one afternoon we wanted to play a "D&D boardgame" which would people recommend? Not DM vs Players but equals sides with everyone playing for fun?

Cheers,
S.


Stefan Hill wrote:
What is bad is WotC has decided what is the best way to play a fantasy roleplaying game by fact of rule design*.

If I may once again bring out my favorite deceased equine here…they have essentially been doing the same thing for years with classes.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


Not what I was reading. DDM 2,0 was a last ditch desperate attempt to turn a line that was doing badly around. It failed, now they are trying something else. May or may not fail. Though, like you, I think they are in trouble in this regards due to the saturation of the market.

You can get a feel for the points at which they were starting to gt increasingly concerned in checking when they first jacked up the price. After that they felt that they could not jack up the price again adn a few sets came out where they tried to save money by cutting down on the number of paint steps (significantly reduced quality) - however that really infuriated collectors...so they tried to reboot but that did not work either so finally they abandoned DDM altogether for the current product.

The most drastic drop in paint quality didn't actually happen until the last DDM 1.0 set, the "hybrid" Desert of Desolation. This is also about when the sculpts went to hell as CAD finally crept into the design line.

Drop off in mini play was pronounced as DDM 2.0 was announced, and continued as it hit. Basically, an already existing downward trend since early 2007 escalated with both the announcement and the appearance of the new game. The crash in Ebay prices happened around this time. Certainly sales weren't as good as Blood War for Unhallowed or Night Below, but they weren't the low numbers (according to heavy buyers in the community) that the last 4 sets have seen (Desert, Dungeons, Against the Giants and Demonweb). Those last 4 are the hybrid set and the 3 DDM 2.0 sets.

I don't think there's much to the idea that DDM 2.0 was an attempt to save the line - it was a move forced on the minis game to make in conform better to 4th edition, so there was never a question of doing it or not doing it. WotC may be choosing to recast the purpose of the rules change, but not doing it was never on the table - except possibly in the form of killing the minis game a generation earlier.

The price increases don't map that well at all to drops in sales. The first one happen on set 5 (a starter), after sets 1-4 sold fantastically well. Set 5 wasn't one of the best received sets, but sets 6, 7 and 8 were (Deathknell, Angelfire, Underdark). The 2nd price increase was more related to production costs than dropping sales - it happened around the time of the hugely successful Blood War expansion.

I tend to take WotC's explanations with a grain of salt, and compare them to how the community and Ebay were doing at the times in question. They have an interest in presenting an "our hands were tied" situation. I'm not saying to reject what they say out of hand, but do compare it to what was going on in the buying community at the time.

Edit: one last comment :)
I do believe (and think I stated clearly enough) that says were already on the decline. I just believe that Wizards is deliberately downplaying how much of the decline happened after the DDM 2.0 announcement. It is in their interest to do so, since reverting to DDM 1 isn't an option, and they don't want it to sound like that would be the best solution.

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:
What is bad is WotC has decided what is the best way to play a fantasy roleplaying game by fact of rule design*.
If I may once again bring out my favorite deceased equine here…they have essentially been doing the same thing for years with classes.

By all means. In my little deranged opinion however they were running head long towards the "cliff of mini only play" you mention with classes/rules - but 4E IS the cliff.

[Rapidly flicking through 4E pages while falling off said cliff... "Fly, fly, 3rd level wizard/sorcerer spell. Where the hell is sorcerer, and where in the name of every deity in "Deities & Demigods" (yes the one with Chulthu included) are the 3rd level spells?!" [SPLAT]

A short time later... "You are a Cleric right? Can't you just cast Raise Dead, it's a 5th level spell?" [sounds of 4E pages turning] "Hmmmm, I'll get back to you on that one. I think I can give his corpse +2 to attack next round if I stick this holy lance up your...?"

I think I'll dust off 2nd edition :)

S.


I think maybe I can illustrate the difference between the two sides here:

On one side you have a medium for telling a story. You're looking at a greasy faced kid telling you a story about adventurers and monsters and whatever. You ignore the greasy face and focus on the story. Same as in the movie theater you ignore the inside of the theater and the big projector in the back. They're the medium to get to the story. In a novel you ignore the book, and even the words to get to the story. The less you have to focus on the medium, the more you can get sucked into the story. The kid pausing to flip through the book at a dramatic high point, or trying to use an annoying faux accent--that's the guy who's cellphone goes off in the theater, pulling you out of the movie; or the goshawful glaring typos in the middle of the book.

Using miniatures goes beyond a medium for storytelling. They become the focus of a lot of the attention, limit the range of possible actions, and in so doing it's easy for them to end up replacing the story.

To lift a little from the previous example, you take the Death Star stardocks, stormtroopers mobilizing and sweeping the interior. Some with blaster rifles hold back while grey jumpsuited techies with binary loadlifters move cargo crates into the middle of the bay so they can be individually opened and examined to find the intruders. The good guys are sneaking around in all of this, trying hard to get back to their spaceship, get inside and power her up before they get fried by the badguys.

On a map? I'm not sure how you would tell that story, but you'd certainly have to bend the story to fit the maps. The original bay is huge beyond the ability to map it--but we'll revise that idea to fit our biggest game map. Roll it out. Okay so these big d6s are cargo crates and this hotwheels car is a binary loadlifter. Now granted people wouldn't really be standing exactly in the little squares, but it helps with gameplay so these stormtroopers are standing in these three squares. There's a patrol of other stormtroopers over here making a sweep. Yeah now there's dozens of stormtroopers really but that doesn't fit on the map so we'll have four. Put your character anywhere on this side of the map, it's your deployment zone. Suddenly it's not about weaving around the map trying not to be seen. Now it's about trying to get a tactical advantage to fight through the combat encounter. Yarg.

That's what kills for me about maps and minis. It feels like it takes telling the story and makes it harder. If the greasy faced kid is the movie theater or the novel, maps and minis feels like an old school atari. The detail of the graphics just isn't good enough to convey the story I want to tell--so I end up having to reduce my story to fit the medium. That frustrates me. I want to tell a big sweeping story and I end up telling a little, combat-focused story.

Hope that makes a bit more sense. Yeah, the minis get in the way of visualizing the action--but it's a bit more fundamental than just what the minis look like. At least for me.


I believe I understand your argument, Grimcleaver. And I was largely battlematless until a few years ago (Note: mostly playing Hero).

Most of the groups and players that I know (and yes, I realize this is anecdotal evidence, but it is all I have to go on) that play D&D really only want to play a tactical war game in which making a battlemat a large part of the game is more of a feature. In this perspective (which is just my opinion based on my own limited experience) WotC were just giving the majority of their customers what they wanted.


Threadjacking back to original question:

Likes:
1. I LOVE how effects that used to be dramatic and instantaneous happen in degrees (e.g. Petrification).
2. I prefer the 4E dying rules to 3E's.
3. I really like the recharging system for monster abilities - while there was a certain grand unity in having monsters and characters playing by the same rules, in practice it was far from elegant.
4. The infamous Page 42 is really handy and gives DM's a tool that takes a lot of gueswork out of things.

Dislikes:
1. Residium is right next to midi-chlorians in terms of things that get my nerd rage flowing.
2. Squares? Really? We're playing a game that involves tons of modifiers and numbers to keep track of, and somehow using feet is too much to ask? Sorry, but you can keep your cube effects and magically fast diagonal movement.
3. Adding 1/2 level to attrubute checks, to me, completely overlooks the whole point in making attributes different from skills and and other abilities.
4. I know lots of people love minions but...the whole concept of something that can be Level 27 and have 1 hit point is utterly and totally ridiculous. If you want hoards of weaker monsters, use hoards of weaker monsters.
5. The whole idea of basing everything around powers just doesn't FEEL right to me. When you have all of these concrete, detailed specific cool things you can do, you're implicitly discouraged from trying to do something unique that isn't explicitly covered.

I'm not trying to fan any edition war flames. I honestly love a few of the things 4E put in place. But, as many others have stated...to me, the whole "feel" of the game is much more boardgame-y (especially the use of squares). In general, that is my single BIGGEST dislike.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
I can understand that some people like playing with miniatures, and I can understand even more that some people really like people to buy miniatures, but requiring miniatures for someone to play a game is annoying.

You must not be a big fan of board games, huh?


Stefan Hill wrote:
I think I'll dust off 2nd edition :)

I don't think it necessarily has to be a bad thing going back to earlier editons. I think the new take on D&D has really fired me up about playing games in every edition.

I've been buying up all the stuff for the old Gary Gygax settings trying to bring back his original structure for the old D&D multiverse composed of alternate planes (Aerth, Learth, Oerth, Yarth, Uerth) that run parallel to Earth.

The hope is to run my new 2nd edition games using Skills and Powers in the setting the way it was originally supposed to be. Should be awesome.

Liberty's Edge

Small world - with the exception of "Combat Options" the 2nd edition "Options" books were pretty darn good. If you want to go way back then visit OSRIC for a nice tidy-up set of rules based on 1st edition AD&D.

S.

The Exchange

Grimcleaver wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:
I think I'll dust off 2nd edition :)
I don't think it necessarily has to be a bad thing going back to earlier editons. I think the new take on D&D has really fired me up about playing games in every edition.

Yah!! I'm fixing to run a 1st edition game soon too! My kids are going to LOVE going "old school!" I can't wait!!


Pretty much my master plan looks like this:

1. Run 4e games using the Middle World setting described in the books. Use this as a home for all the wonderful material developed over the years that was great but didn't belong anywhere else (ie. Red Hand of Doom, Fantastic Locations series, Races of/Complete/Environmental books, Cityscape, Organizations/Special prestige classes) as well as the stuff from Greyhawk/Adhawk that has been ported into a 4e version (Regdar, Lidda, Temple of Elemental Evil, Tharizdun, etc.) Planescape and Ravenloft get folded in here too.

2. Run the established D&D settings (sans Greyhawk) and OGL D&D settings as third edition Grimcleaver System games (Forgotten Realms, Ghostwalk, Iron Kingdoms, Pathfinder etc.) with special campaign rules (ie. some Pathfinder rules for Pathfinder) cribbed for extra flavor.

3. Grab up as much old Gary Gygax product as possible from the original Gygaxian Worlds and play that as a third kind of D&D game using the 2nd edition Skills and Powers system. Thinking of swapping out Greyhawk for the East Mark setting for his version of Oerth, since he had a lot more control over that incarnation of it--and it would obviously have a lot less bleedthrough into 4e.

I'm still working through it all, but I like the idea of having each edition of D&D be its own thing and a fun and different way to play rather than have any one kill off the rest and become the one True way to play. Likewise I love that so much of the stuff that was totally useless to me before now suddenly becomes incredibly valuable and worthwhile. That's always great.

The Exchange

Grimcleaver wrote:
Pretty much my master plan looks like this:

Sweet!

My master plan is a three-DM 4E game campaign - we each get apportioned pieces of each tier - then pass on to the next DM in a shared-world 4E amalgamation.

For 1st Ed, we're going to be doing an "After Ragnarok" campaign of my own. Most of the gods are dead, etc., how do you survive in a fantasy post-apocalyptic world? That should be fun ...


That's awesome. I actually had a post-apocalyptic D&D setting called Azangaust. The characters had survived a time known to the survivors as the 100 Days of Madness and Death, where the Great Old Ones had briefly stirred in their slumber as the time was nearing for them to awake. In just that three month span of time nearly all of civilization had collapsed and the servitors of the Old Ones began taking to the world again from their risen monoliths. People got a peek into the truth of the world that lay underneath all the comfortable lies of arcane study and divine faith...and it had driven most of society to such irredeemable madness that they howl and scamper naked through the ruins now like packs of ghouls, unable to deal with the horrible truth.

Cthuhlu D&D. Fun stuff. But not for the fainthearted.


What the poodle heard, "blah blah blah naked blah blah blah"


Stefan Hill wrote:
CourtFool wrote:
Let me see if I have the gist of the Game Mat Issue. For some it is a feature. For some it is a bug. That about cover it?

That about covers it! :)

Main issue with 4E and miniatures is it is like the old "MS Windows" and "IE Explorer" issue - tightly integrated into the system allowing no real freedom to choose.

Difference is, people really only started complaining about IE once it started to suck badly enough to drag down the rest of the (bloated/flawed) operating system without an option to avoid/disable it. I find it very interesting that folks cite "distraction from imagination" as a reason to avoid minis/tokens and *by extension 4th edition*, since there is a good deal of flexibility and option in what tokens are used and when/how you use them.

Want a token that looks like your PC/monster/NPC? Sketch or find some artwork and print it out in small-size, voila! Don't want minis/battlemats getting in the way of your dramatic non-combat scenario, don't "whip it out" unless you need it. If it was a simple matter of taste (like with chocolate), I'd expect that people would liberally pluck out what they liked about 4E for their games, and leave the minis in the store. But I just couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that gamers would discount an entire game system b/c of the wording of a rule subset.

Spoiler:
BTW, using a shorthand tool to avoid wasting precious gaming time and imagination/creative brain power on figuring out how close the orc is to the wizard doesn't make one less of a "spatial thinker", it just makes you efficient. Not that fun isn't sometimes inefficient (and messy), but vector algebra takes up a lot of time/energy that might be better spent while carousing with your friends.

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