What are the Strengths of 4E?


4th Edition

Silver Crusade

Perhaps this is the place to post this question but I'm not sure.

Some of my friends play Pathfinder but like myself, don't play 4E. (After playing 4E for 3 months after it came out I didn’t find it to be my cup of tea)

I have a few friends who play both 4E and Pathfinder.

I don’t really know anyone who plays 4E and not Pathfinder. (This is probably more a reflection of my having a small number of friends more then anything else)

My question is this. I would like to ask people, who play both systems on a regular basis,

What are some of the strengths they see in 4E?

What are some of the strengths they see in Pathfinder?

And In your opinion, what might be some simple things, that might be worth taking from 4E and using them in a pathfinder game?

Thanks. Please I hope we can keep this civil.


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ElyasRavenwood wrote:
What are some of the strengths they see in 4E?

4e has a great many strengths.

Foremost is the lessening of the burden on the DM. Every aspect of the DM's experience has been eased: guiding players through character creation, creating exciting encounters, designing new monsters, adjudicating combat, and allowing your players to do things the rules don't have explicit support for.

4e also has the most robust digital tool set ever created for a traditional RPG. This makes the game much easier to digest, and provides an easy alternative to those who would prefer not to have to purchase every supplement in order to stay current with the game.

4e embraces a certain level of abstract conceptualization when it comes to how the rules interact with the game world, which means that the system can very easily be refluffed to fit into just about any home campaign world or character concept imaginable.

There are others, but those are the most significant, from my perspective.

4e's weaknesses include relatively poor campaign and published adventure support, compared to Paizo.

Quote:
What are some of the strengths they see in Pathfinder?

As an extension of 3.5, Pathfinder has the same focus on flexibility and simulationism. As a result, Pathfinder requires less suspension of disbelief on the part of the player (or, alternatively, they have to flex their imagination muscles less often in order to describe the action).

Pathfinder also enjoys a tremendous amount of campaign setting and adventure support from Paizo. Pathfinder has a higher quality and more expansive line of adventures than just about any currently published RPG in existence.

Pathfinder's weaknesses include being shackled to many of the design tenets of 3rd Edition D&D - linear fighters and quadratic casters, monsters that require the same amount of work to create as PCs, rules-for-everything, etc. 3rd Edition was a great game back in the day, but its most significant flaws were not - and, in all likelihood, could not have been - adequately addressed during Pathfinder's development.

Quote:
And In your opinion, what might be some simple things, that might be worth taking from 4E and using them in a pathfinder game?

The rules.

Snarkiness aside, I don't know that I would advocate mixing the two systems up very much. There are things that would be nice to have in the Pathfinder system (something like the DC-by-level chart, streamlined monster creation rules, etc.) but they'd involve some serious design work to get right.


I find 4e is better for heroic fantasy, 3.x is better for somewhat more gonzo or high powered fantasy. On the other hand, while all 4e classes are designed for heroic fantasy, 3.x classes have designs all over the place.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

The best thing about 4th edition in my opinion is the minimum amount of prep time required. It's very easy to throw together an evening's entertainment which the player's will find exciting and varied. The downside (also in my opinion) is the small amount of campaign/adventure material. Paizo dont put out enough fluff for me and WoTC are a distant second (though at least their quality has improved of late).

I think the concept of skill challenges works reasonably well in Pathfinder (though you'll have to come up with your own DCs and so forth).

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well...ummm....the tokens from Monster Vault are cool. Yeah.


Gorbacz wrote:
Well...ummm....the tokens from Monster Vault are cool. Yeah.

Heck yeah they are. I'm buying Threats of the Nentir Vale solely because it comes with more tokens. The fact that they come with a book full of monsters is just a nice perk.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Scott Betts wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Well...ummm....the tokens from Monster Vault are cool. Yeah.
Heck yeah they are. I'm buying Threats of the Nentir Vale solely because it comes with more tokens. The fact that they come with a book full of monsters is just a nice perk.

I feel a little dirty about it, and I'll likely have to take a shower afterwards, but I'm going to do exactly the same :)

Liberty's Edge

Okay I play Pathfinder but don't GM it so I cannot comment on it from a GMing point of view. I do however GM 3.5 so I have some insight.

In terms of 4e I just finished running a 26 session campaign using it and have just started playing in a campaign (even though I said I would give 4e a break a play some other games the chance to actually play in an Eberron game was too good to pass up :)

Strengths of Pathfinder
Skills have been consolidated from 3.5.

Familiarity because of the similarity to 3.5, although that similarity can also trip me up when I assume something is the same but it has been tweaked.

Spell durations are designed so as to be useful outside of combat too, though perhaps at the expense of making them too useful in combat (Sleep).

A core set of combat manouevres that everyone can at least attempt, without having to have specific feats or training.

Ability to multiclass allowing Classes to be building blocks.

Strengths of 4e
Skills have been consolidated from 3.5.

Easier to prep as a GM as NPCs do not have to follow the same rules as PCs. Also to level up or down monsters it is some simple maths that incorporates the assumption of feats etc that would give extra bonuses.

Its worth IMHO to start at level 1 as characters are tougher.

At Will and Encounter powers allow me to do cool stuff each encounter without worrying about whether I am "wasting" a spell.

Classes are more balanced, and non magic users also get cool powers too.

The similar structure of the classes make it much easier to learn to play a different class, yet the content in that structure is so different that the classes don't all feel the same.

Ability for "healing" by more classes than just the Cleric, even non magic users can do it as HPs reflect more of a measure of how long you can keep fighting - which can reflect morale as well as physical health.

Rituals - the ability to always have the option to cast certain "spells" with teh restriction being time and money rather than power slots.

Second Wind - a nice way for every player to get back on their feet during a battle.

Issues with PF
Some skills have not been consolidated enough from 3.5 (Swim and Climb), and some skills are just odd (Fly).

Grapple rules are IMHO a complete mess (worse than 3.5 which I was happy with).

Channelling make Cleric even more of the "must have class" for healing. Also in campaign where there may only be one or two combats a day, clerics can spam their channelling to ensure everyone starts the day at full HP, meaning a GM can sometimes struggle to run scenarios where the PCs are slowly whittled away, so they enter the final combat injured and weary.

Some feats are just odd, contrived for backwards compatibility with 3.5 e.g. Stealthy giving +2 to Stealth and Escape Artist. Such feats should IMHO have just been dropped and SKill Focus used instead.

Spells (apart from Cantrips) are all dailies, which means as a maic user I am always thinking I should save a spell in case we need to use it in a mroe powerful encounter later that day, but if such an encounter doesn't come I have lost the chance to use that spell.

It can sometimes be guess work as to which spells to prepare - especialy in terms of situational spells like Endure Elements and Faerie Fire and Entangle. Often some spells that could be really useful in an encounter simply aren't used because they weren't prepared because it didn't seem worth it.

Issues with 4e
Durations on powers are designed for use in combat, which is cool, but limits their usefullness outside of combat, e.g. Save Ends fo Sleep spell making it difficult to make some guards sleep while you hurry the rescued prisoners past them. To end of Next Turn for Keen Oil rather than until a successful hit.

This could be solved by more Sustained duration, e.g. Invisibility lasts indefinately but you need to spend a Standard Action to sustain it - so balanced for both in combat and out of combat stuff.

Too simplified in some areas, e.g. a simgle Save throw may work great for determining durations of some powers, but doesn't make sense when the ability to save should be influenced by factors such as Strength or Dexterity (e.g. in Dungeon Delve 1 a tapestry can be pulled down on a PC immobilising him, freeing oneself is a Save Ends, not accounting for strength).

Power and magic utem effects triggering on a hit against a foe, when the effect is nothing to do with the attack, e.g. needing to hit a foe to use a Rod of Repair to gain a boost to an Artificer's healing powers.

Some stuff like tripping require powers in order to even try it. This can be mitigated by DMG p42, but that could undermine the usefulness of the powers themselves.

HIt points resetting every night - this is a big one for me - I like to grind players down so they feel they are running on empty sometimes, but I also write scenarios that only have one or two combats a day. With the HP resetting each night (and often each encounter with short rests) if I want PCs to face the possibility of death I need to get them there in one fight - but that is a difficult line to balance on, its too easy to go over it with a Critical and find yourself with a death or two, so I tend to err on the side of caution and feel some encounters aren't challenging enough.

Due to NPCs having different creation rules, I am not comfortable changing or creating new types - I tend to stick with what is in the MM, maybe levelled up or down a bit. With 3.x if you're familiar with making a PC who by default can also make NPCs.

But perhaps my biggest issue with 4e is that, unless the players are very familiar with their powers the sheer number of them can lead to hesitation during combat whilst they try to figure out the best power to use.

Also the range of powers often focus some players into thinking they are their only options - rather than thinking what does my character need to do, and then figure out how to do that, players seem to go straight to their powers.

So many powers mean I as GM cannot hope to know what the rules are, so if a player is having difficulty with a power I can't just talk him through the process without reading up on the power myself. WHereas with 3.5 I knew how the combat moves like trip and grapple worked and so could talk a player through those.

Connected with the above, quite a few players I have played with don't describe in game how their power works only giving the mechanical effect. I as a GM struggle to add that description in myself because I don't know what how the power is meant to work (Monk powers are most difficult IMHO because the powers' names are quite abstract e.g. Rising Storm or Harmonious Thunder compared to a FIghter's Cleave or Spinning Sweep.

Summary
Both games give me something different. When I play 4e I can sometimes yearn for the crunch and combat manouevres of 3.x, but then when I play PF I can find myself wishing I had some At Will and Encounter powers.

Overall, its the fact that 4e is popular and supports the Eberron setting that has sold 4e for me, and its the popularity of PFS organised play at conventions that has sold PF for me. But if its a home campaign, and players are willing to play 3.5 that will be my choice over both PF and 4e - there is enough material out there that I can incorporate some of the best bits of both in 3.5 without also suffering some of the issues.


ElyasRavenwood wrote:

What are some of the strengths they see in 4E?

What are some of the strengths they see in Pathfinder?

* DM Prep: 4E prep is much quicker than 3.5/PF prep

* Balance: I play with people who enjoy and are good in optimizing characters as well as magical tea party roleplaying. With 3.5/PF, the optimizers can totally overshadow the non-optimizers. This is much less of a problem in 4e.

* Balance, 2: CR is generally only a vague guideline, and building encounters of the correct difficulty requires an in-depth knowledge of the monsters and their abilities in 3.5/PF. This is much less of a problems in 4e, as XP budgets work out, generally. While not impossible, it's much, much harder to get to an 'accidental' TPK if you are not fudging rolls and not showing mercy.

* Art: I generally prefer the art used in the Paizo products to the 4e art. A lot. But then again, nothing beats DiTerlizzi's AD&D Planescape drawings

* Ambivalent: I write almost all adventures and stories by myself; what I prepare story-wise is a (hopefully) almost living sandbox for the players. In 3.5/PF, it's much harder to built a world that cannot be totally broken by inventive players, as the only rulers or kings that can actually defend their kingdom against wizards of level 8+ are wizards themselves, kind of like the dark-sun sorcerer kings.
Because magic isn't that all-powerful in 4e, this gives me a lot of more freedom in designing my world. I strive for some internal logic in the power balance of my campaigns, and lots of intrigue and backstabbing and dune- or game-of-throne-like family feuds.
I'm ambivalent about this because while it makes my life as a DM easier, it also doesn't allow some of the truly outrageous fun to be had with the broken magic in 3.5.

* As a player, I really like 3.5, because I do enjoy using all this broken magic. A lot. :)


ElyasRavenwood wrote:
And In your opinion, what might be some simple things, that might be worth taking from 4E and using them in a pathfinder game?

The thing that could be converted the easiest would be the skill system. They are similar enough that it's not a big change, but just having a trained bonus of +5 and no ranks and no trap skills make skill-based interactions so much more rewarding for all players, not just the ones with an RNG-breaking amount of ranks.

Liberty's Edge

ElyasRavenwood wrote:
And In your opinion, what might be some simple things, that might be worth taking from 4E and using them in a pathfinder game?

Some stuff I suggested on another thread but will repeat here:

Second Wind
Allow PCs to take a Standard Action in a fight (Swift Action for Dwarves) to recover a certain amount of hit points. The exact implementation details would need to be hammered out and a finite limit added so PCs wouldn't enter fights just to heal themselves!

Something like heal a number of Hit Points equal to your Character Level a number of times a day equal to your Con Modifier (minimum of 1).

Rituals
Ideally this would be a simple system that would allow magicians to cast existing spells they have learnt without preparing them, but at a cost in extra compoenents and time. Wizards would get this ability automatically and sorcerers could get it as a Feat and would need to learn each spell.

Something like duration increases so Swift/Immediate action spells take 1 minute, Move Action Spells take 5 minutes, Standard Action Spells take 5 minutes and 1 Rounds spells take 10 minutes, any spells that take longer to cast get multipled up by a factor of 10, so 1 minute spells also take 10 minutes, 10 minutes spells would take 100 minutes etc

NOt sure what monetary cost should be.

Such spells cast at rituals shoudl also require a Spellcraft check.


I second all the above posts, they do a good job of expressing pros/cons of both games.

My own 2-cents on the matter...

What are some of the strengths they see in 4E?
* Class design and the unique way each can take the same "role" they're in and make it feel different that the other. For example, the Weaponmaster (fighter) is a great defender but can do so with a variety of styles. Two-Weapons, Grappling, Shield-based, Two-handed weapons....and yet they fulfill the role regardless. This is because the powers have build-in benefits of your specific style. And most of the classes are treated this way (save for the Essential ones, really) which, to me, shows diversity.

*No more Save or Die effects. I fully believe that PCs should be tested, and though tactics and play it's possible (if not likely) that one or more may die. But to hinge that all on one roll of the die, 1st round of combat, is just too easy and swingy. This goes for the Monsters as well. How many times as the Cleric in the party with the Disciple of the Sun feat just walked into an undead encounter and wiped them all out in 1 turn? Or, as a DM, built an obsticle for the PCs to go around to move the plot in a different direction yet someone has the perfect spell or magical item that overcomes the obsticle in an instant? That just doens't happen to my group anymore, and I like that.

*Keeping the Role-Play and Roll-Play separate. As a Player, I'd have never invested finite resources (skill pts, feats, magical items) on things that have a purely role-play impact. If I want my character to be a blacksmith or baker, I shouldn't have to waste those resources to show that through Craft or Profession. Espically when I'd might never need it in a published campaign.

*Multiple attack rolls, 1 damage roll. I like this feature of 4E because I feel it's consistant and easier for a DM to track.

*The use of squares vs. actual measurement. This is where a lot of anti-4E people proclaim 4E as a tactical miniatures game, because the descriptions of the powers do so in squares. But seriously, D&D has gone the battle-mat route since pre-3E (look at the PHB descriptions of combat!) so that to me holds little weight. And I think it's easier to convert squares to feet than feet to squares.

What are some of the strengths they see in Pathfinder?

*A better v3.5 with updated rules that seriously help the system. While they kept a lot of things the same, the changes are significant (some good, some bad). I also enjoy how they reworked a lof the the classes to get the bugs out (ie. Paladin's are less MAD now with their spellcasting tied into Charisma).

*Easy to convert modules from v3.5 to PF as well as other sourcebooks. When you see something in say......Races of the Wild supplement, chances are the incorporation of that element won't break the PF game or alter it much. That flexability is one reason I've gone to PF in the first place.

*Great adventures. Enough said and simply put.

*The actual world of Golarion is really interesting and has a lot of elements that I enjoy in a role-playing setting. It's also a big reason a lot of Forgotten Realms fans have gone there as well as the setting is huge and has a vast history yet unexplored.

And In your opinion, what might be some simple things, that might be worth taking from 4E and using them in a pathfinder game?

Strangely enough, the powers. The Tome of Battle has shown us that non-magical classes can have fun with that system too. The conversion from 4E powers to PF would be quite easy. For example:

Steel Serpent Attack
Martial Maneuver (strike)
Level: 1
Initiation Action: 1 standard action
Range: Melee attack
Target: One creature
You strike at your foes legs to stop his movement.
As part of this maneuver, you make a single melee attack. If this attack hits, it deals an extra 1d8 damage. In addition, the target can only move at half-speed and cannot take a 5-foot step until the start of your next turn.

Voliâ! I'd keep this on a power-by-power basis though and carefully go over any conversions that might come about. For the 4e to PF/v3.5 level ratio, I'd say that powers 1-10 would fall into the 1st thru 3rd range, 11-20 into the 4th thru 6th range, and 21-29 into the 7th thru 9th range.


I agree that a streamlined process for monster creation is direly needed in Pathfinder. Another thing I think PF could benefit from: minions (basically, 1 hp monsters that attack en masse) - I've tried a few times to work up a quick template for converting normal monsters in the Bestiary to minions, but haven't yet playtested the idea.

Off topic question for 4E players/GMs:
Have any review sites posted a complete list of the monsters that appear in the new MV: Threats to the Nentir Vale set? The previews on WotC's site looked interesting, but I'm still undecided as to whether I'm gonna buy it, as tokens just aren't enough to draw me in.


Another feature of 4E I like is 2 attributes applying to the same defense, and classes being able to handle multiple attribute builds, so you can have a Cha or Con Warlock, Str or Cha sorcerer, etc. The benefit is the build/attribute you select influences your "to hit" and damage.

I also like how the races deal with positive attribute bonuses, and some races you have a choice of 2 sets of bonuses. This helps avoid the 5 dump stat syndrome.

My biggest complaint is quality control, in regards to powers and the flavor that explains them. There are some really odd combinations. A close second is limited use of daily, encounter or at-will powers, and not having more to choose from as you level. A comparison is a 3.5 sorcerer who has a wide range of spells, but it limited on how many to use each day.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I liked what 4E did to Fort/Ref/Will by making them defenses instead of rolls, making the opposing force (like a trap or spell) roll instead of having a DC. This may seem no more significant than arbitrarily switching the base 10 with the d20 roll, but it has a nice side effect with Reflex: it allows Reflex and Touch AC - which represent exactly the same thing in the game world - to actually be the same stat. In PF, for instance, Touch AC and REF are both supposed to be representing the same thing: the ability to avoid getting hit. Yet one is restricted by the weight of your armor and benefits from dodge bonuses while the other is unaffected by those things and scales with your level. Makes no sense. In 4E, they're consolidated into a single stat, making it much cleaner.

Silver Crusade

Thank you all for your posts. I will of course need to re read the thread closer to get the finer points.

I'm glad we can do some comparing and contrasting, without getting into the usual unpleasantness that can come with people saying that one game is better then another.

After all, i think the most important thing is if you are having a good time with your friends rather then which system you are using.

Again i will need to re read the thread. It has sparked some questions and thoughts.

thank you


DigitalMage wrote:
Hit points resetting every night - this is a big one for me - I like to grind players down so they feel they are running on empty sometimes, but I also write scenarios that only have one or two combats a day. With the HP resetting each night (and often each encounter with short rests) if I want PCs to face the possibility of death I need to get them there in one fight - but that is a difficult line to balance on, its too easy to go over it with a Critical and find yourself with a death or two, so I tend to err on the side of caution and feel some encounters aren't challenging enough.

I'd like to point out that strictly speaking, this isn't true. Players get full hit points and an Action Point after taking an Extended Rest. So, if it suits your purpose, you as a DM can determine that the situation does not allow for them to take an extended rest & they will need to continue to get by with what's left of their daily allotment of healing surges, with whatever daily powers they may still have, and with their encounter & at-will powers. And there, you can also decide when it's appropriate for them to get a short rest in & when you award milestones. Yes, guidlines are provided, but you as a DM can decide that for your story-telling purposes to what degree you stick to those guidelines.

I point this out because the GM in a game I play in used this point to good effect and it made for an interesting play session. (Not that we felt that way during the play session, it's only upon reflection that I can say this now.) It also made an interesting counter-point to a similar situation we had in our 3.5 campaign. In the 4E scenario, everyone felt the strain to more or less the same degree, whereas in the 3E version, the "spellcasting classes" felt unduly punished.

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