Who can teach me a few things about 4e?


4th Edition


I haven't played 4e in quite a while- the last time I played was right after the release of the PBH2 (if that was the book with the deva race in it, if not, whatever that book was). I only got to play and DM the system a handful of sessions before my regular group decided that they didn't like it and went back to 3.X. I was alone in preferring 4e, so for a while now I've been stuck playing/DMing 3.X and PF (not a bad thing, but I get bored of playing the same system over and over again). While gearing up to move recently I found my 4e books (PHB, MM, and DMG) and decided that I was going to finally see if I could track down a 4e gaming group somewhere in my area so I can enjoy it as well. However, my 4e books are all from when they were first released. I was rereading the rules and surfing around on the internet, figuring I should probably reeducate myself with the system before I try to jump right in somewhere and realized that I was a bit lost.

Since I've been away from the system many things have been released. Aside from niche supplement books Essentials has been released, and I seem to be finding a lot of mixed information on it. I'd appreciate it if anyone could tell me just how essential is Essentials? Does it dramatically change the rules of the game? Do most people use it? Will my existing core rules work fine with or without it if I join a group? What exactly is Essentials? Do I need to read it?

I'm also having trouble tracking down a complete errata for my core rulebooks (it is possible I'm not as computer proficient as I like to think I am) since I've heard a lot of powers have been changed (the example I was given was magic missile auto-hitting again, I think). If someone could point me to a link, it would help me a lot.

I'm pretty sure I've seen advertisements at the local gamestore for Encounters? I've never been involved in any sort of organized play for any edition of any game, so I don't have much experience in the matter. Would Encounters be a decent way to get back into the system or would I be expected to have strong working knowledge of the current rules? Are these full adventures or just combat scenarios?

Basically, what do I need (past what I already own- 1st printing core) to get into 4e and be able to play with working mechanical knowledge of the rules? If anyone could help me get a sense of direction to help sort through everything and get into the system faster, I'd be grateful.


Essentials for the most part isn't really..."essential" ;p. Generally it gives a new class format with heavily limited powers in return for inflexible but sometimes powerful character abilities - intended more for new players are dudes who don't want to have to pick powers. However, fair warning, a good number of them are kinda awful. The Slayer, Thief, and Knight are probably the three best put together; the Slayer especially is good if you don't want to mess around with powers or, well, even really tactics, and you just want to charge things and rip them to shreds.

Errata is here. Fair warning again, there's a lot of it.

Encounters is a very lite style meant for new players or fans of the ol' hack and slash. They tend to be very RP light, and very go into dungeons and kill things and take their stuff heavy. Encounters is entirely built on Essentials, so if you don't like Essentials, or want something with a lot of ye olde talking, I don't recommend it. If you want to throw together a character fairly quickly and easily (in comparison) to ram a sword into some orcs, then I do recommend it!


Okay, asking honestly, this "Slayer" class is built around not having Powers? I'm interested...

One of the biggest disconnects for me for 4e was the way powers are presented. If I can play a class that doesn't bother dealing with them, I may give it another try.


Josh M. wrote:

Okay, asking honestly, this "Slayer" class is built around not having Powers? I'm interested...

One of the biggest disconnects for me for 4e was the way powers are presented. If I can play a class that doesn't bother dealing with them, I may give it another try.

It isn't so much that slayers don't have powers as it is that their powers are simpler to understand and apply in combat.

Slayers gain a number of stances at 1st level, which are at-will minor actions that affect their chances to hit or their damage output; you assume a stance to get a situational bonus that lasts until you change stances.

The only other power I really remember using as a slayer was Power Attack, an encounter power which lets you add one weapon die of damage to an attack AFTER you've rolled to see if it hits.

Summation: Slayer is a great class choice for a newbie who wants to bash monsters or someone who wants to turn their brain off and not juggle a lot of oddly worded powers. It's the auto-pilot-brain fighter of Essentials. (And that's not an insult - sometimes that's exactly what I want to play.)


Stances sound alright. Really never thought I'd be saying this, but I might have to check this out.


Thank you for the info, Prof. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good pre-built adventure for 4e to help get into the swing of things? I own Keep on the Shadowfell, but it is one of the earlier adventures for 4e (the first?) and seems a bit underwhelming.


Ringtail wrote:
Thank you for the info, Prof. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good pre-built adventure for 4e to help get into the swing of things? I own Keep on the Shadowfell, but it is one of the earlier adventures for 4e (the first?) and seems a bit underwhelming.

I sadly do not. 4e generally does not have good adventures. Though I don't have a link to it, I do believe some people have been converting Pathfinder APs to 4e, however.


Ringtail wrote:
Thank you for the info, Prof. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good pre-built adventure for 4e to help get into the swing of things? I own Keep on the Shadowfell, but it is one of the earlier adventures for 4e (the first?) and seems a bit underwhelming.

Rescue at Rivernoar. It's the first advventure in the Scales of War AP, and it's in one of the Dungeon issues that's freely available, and it's quite fun. You could also try the RPGA adventures, which are now free to download. A friend of mine really likes some of those, one particular low level series (Ashes of Dawn?) especially.


Ringtail wrote:
Thank you for the info, Prof. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good pre-built adventure for 4e to help get into the swing of things? I own Keep on the Shadowfell, but it is one of the earlier adventures for 4e (the first?) and seems a bit underwhelming.

I've been hearing good things about the new Gardmore Abbey adventure (which is a sandbox style adventure involving the Deck of Many Things), but I think it is mid-heroic, so might not be the best intro adventure.

Here are some posts that discuss various recommended adventures:
Link
Another Link


Ringtail wrote:
I'd appreciate it if anyone could tell me just how essential is Essentials? Does it dramatically change the rules of the game? Do most people use it? Will my existing core rules work fine with or without it if I join a group? What exactly is Essentials? Do I need to read it?

Essentials is not essential. At all. The title is a marketing ploy to make it sound more appealing. So, no, you absolutely don't need to read it.

It adds a rarity system to magical items, but other than that it doesn't change anything. It just adds options. (Last time I heard anything on the subject, the rarity system is still largely nonfunctional.) Essentials works just fine with core rules.

Ringtail wrote:
I'm also having trouble tracking down a complete errata for my core rulebooks (it is possible I'm not as computer proficient as I like to think I am) since I've heard a lot of powers have been changed (the example I was given was magic missile auto-hitting again, I think). If someone could point me to a link, it would help me a lot.

I'm writing a 4e clone, which has all official errata included; and a few unofficial erratas that WotC hasn't gotten around to. It's a handy resource, and I'll send you the links if you ask me nicely. :) (Email me at Complete4th@gmail.com.)

Ringtail wrote:
I'm pretty sure I've seen advertisements at the local gamestore for Encounters? I've never been involved in any sort of organized play for any edition of any game, so I don't have much experience in the matter. Would Encounters be a decent way to get back into the system or...

From what I hear from gamers who go to Encounters, its best use is to be a scouting area for good players.

Unfortunately I can't suggest a good adventure; 4e seems to lack quality in that department. I've played KotS and Scales of War, and neither of them were spectacular. Personally I suggest writing your own adventures or porting over adventures from other systems.


Agree that Essentials is mostly a marketing title. It's more for the retailer than anything else, basically books and boxed sets that are tagged as Essentials are the ones that are "evergreen" products that form the core of the 4th edition D&D game that a retailer should keep in stock. In theory, these are products that will continue to stay in print. They also happen to be ones that most game groups would probably want at least one of - such as the Rules Compendium or the different master sets of dungeon tiles. As for characters created using those rules, the claim by WotC is that it's just as much 4th edition as the original core set from 2008 and from what I've read they seem highly compatible. If a rule or power was tweaked from the original books by later errata the Essentials products will have the latest version in them if they are repeated there. Essentials did offer up some simpler character options like the Slayer to allow people new to the game to get their feet wet, or for more experienced players who just wanted a less complex character with fewer options.

There have been a few recent articles posted on the WotC D&D home page in the last week or so regarding Gardmore Abbey. Sounds pretty cool to me, but not a starter adventure.

L

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