Convince me to play 4th edition. Yes, really.


4th Edition

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I have played every iteration of D&D since 2nd and now play Pathfinder (quite fondly, I might add). I have been gifted a few 4e books and I leafed through them, but not extensively.

(I have the PHB 1, Forgotten Realms and one more I can't remember at the moment.)

Perhaps age is an obstacle here. I just don't find the books all that interesting and I'm not sure I see any changes that were all that needful but I'm reserving my opinion here until I can talk to someone who's played the game.

Is there something I'm missing?

I'd hate to waste gifted books.

Liberty's Edge

Derivous wrote:

I have played every iteration of D&D since 2nd and now play Pathfinder (quite fondly, I might add). I have been gifted a few 4e books and I leafed through them, but not extensively.

(I have the PHB 1, Forgotten Realms and one more I can't remember at the moment.)

Perhaps age is an obstacle here. I just don't find the books all that interesting and I'm not sure I see any changes that were all that needful but I'm reserving my opinion here until I can talk to someone who's played the game.

Is there something I'm missing?

I'd hate to waste gifted books.

Shouldn't you be doing this over at WoTC?

The Exchange

All I can suggest is to have a go and play. You might like it or you might not. But discussion in the abstract won't make much difference. The books are not designed to be a settle-down-and-read sort of thing.


ciretose, unfortunately I haven't had an account at wotc for a long time. At least, I think...

Think my account name and such would still be active over there? After 10+ years?
I may go check and see. That would be cool.

Aubrey the Malformed, I wouldn't mind, but my players might. I'm the DM and really this line of questions is aimed at arming myself when speaking to a potentially unwilling gaming group. I'd like to show up at the table with some idea of why we should play it (aside from the novelty of something new) instead of sticking to the standby.

Thanks for the replies, by the way.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Derivous wrote:

ciretose, unfortunately I haven't had an account at wotc for a long time. At least, I think...

Think my account name and such would still be active over there? After 10+ years?
I may go check and see. That would be cool.

Aubrey the Malformed, I wouldn't mind, but my players might. I'm the DM and really this line of questions is aimed at arming myself when speaking to a potentially unwilling gaming group. I'd like to show up at the table with some idea of why we should play it (aside from the novelty of something new) instead of sticking to the standby.

Thanks for the replies, by the way.

When it comes down to it.... a game system is a game system whether it's Pathfinder, 4th Edition, Hero, or Storyteller. If your gaming group are your friends... just come out with it.

"Guys, Gals, I got this as a gift, and I'd like to try it out. How about a go?"

If that's not enough to get them at least listening, than nothing else said here will matter. Bribing with Food might help though.


Indeed. If your players are unwilling/dead-set against it, then your experience is going to be no more rewarding than it would be attempting to with any other game your players are willing to hate without trying. ;)

However, you came with a question, and I do love giving answers.

The books are more... reference like than previous editions. You're handed a grouping of mechanics with some basic, default descriptions and encouraged to create/alter/change those descriptions to your heart's content. Want a werewolf? Try using wild-shaping druid. Want a "fighter" that specialized in light blades and trickery, although not necessarilly lockpicking/trapfinding/moneylifting/etc? Rogue is still probably a good fit for you.

As noted, it's not great for a "sit down and read" appeal, but it is an excellent rules reference--which is, I think, what the designers were going for. How well you like such an idea is up to you. :) Personally I prefer it because when I am in the player's seat, I don't have someone telling me "your character can't do that because that's not how the book describes it, so your imagination is wrong and broken." (which has unfortunately happened many times over the years) Sitting down as a DM (more often than not) I enjoy both watching my players' imaginations come to life as mine does in their position, and also the fact that such is strongly encouraged as a DM as well. I have a lot fewer "fluff lawyers" telling me what can and cannot happen in the game because they read the monster manual cover to cover and expect their metagame knowledge to benefit them in some way.

Still, I'm not sure exactly how to respond to your request, primarily because i don't know exactly what you're looking for in a game. Help me out on that one, and I'll be happy to give you a bit more depth.


LazarX said, "Bribing with Food might help though."

Maybe, but that would require removing the wife-enforced padlock from the fridge.

I agree with the sentiment, but these guys are definitely grognards (really, I am too). I've perceived a bit of a stigma against playing the edition in question and I'd say that that stigma is what I'm expecting to deal with.

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I've played 4th edition exactly once, and it wasn't quite my thing, but I can say a few good things for it.

4th edition is pretty combat-focused. I don't know if it's just groups that like to play 4th edition, or the game itself, but from my experience and what I've heard from others, there's not a lot of role-play. That said, if your players like to dungeon crawl this game is a good starting point.

Combat tends to be cinematic--even fighters have exciting powers. Just look at the descriptions.

Another thing about every class having fantastic powers is that you can always feel like a magic user (which in my opinion is a good thing, at least for a certain type of game) without having to do all that spellcasting number-crunching book-searching.

Skill challenges are also a mechanic I like, and can definitely be done in a more old-school way. 4th edition players are occasionally REQUIRED to use their skills for infiltration, knowledge, or other plot-related maneuvers, or they'll face a huge setback. Unlike Pathfinder and older editions, where using skills is more of an option. It's nice because it requires even simple fighters to use an aspect of their character that they normally might not care about.

Hope this helps!

The Exchange

Derivous wrote:

LazarX said, "Bribing with Food might help though."

Maybe, but that would require removing the wife-enforced padlock from the fridge.

I agree with the sentiment, but these guys are definitely grognards (really, I am too). I've perceived a bit of a stigma against playing the edition in question and I'd say that that stigma is what I'm expecting to deal with.

You might struggle. 4e has a different feel and it takes getting used to both this and the underlying change in philosophy that causes it. That said, a few players have said it feels more like 1e and 2e than 3e does, because it runs in a more simplified way (all the new powers notwithstanding).

Malebranche puts it quite well - 4e isn't really very gritty (not that it can't support it, but it isn't the default feel). It's about whizz-bang adventure (emphasis on whizz-bang) with large combats and bold, fantastical action. But, on the other hand, a lot of the nerfing that has gone on to some classes (in particular, the wizard) is done with a view to keeping both skills and the other party members relevant. If you have a player who loves 3e wizards, he will definitely feel unhappy with 4e wizards, so that person should play a different character class.


*shrugs* I'm a grognard, too--or was, I suppose. I started with the original red box playing in the kitchen of a friend in school. (I was a halfling!)

My initial grognard nerd rage was aimed at AD&D which I was taught was evil and horrible and pointless and a money grab and just like those new-fangled video games that my other friend had on his Apple II, only worse!

(how times change!)

Anyhow, I'd say the best way to present it to players is to find out what your players want from a game, and show them how 4e can deliver it, or be honest about the points that it won't deliver on, and see if that's a deal breaker for them.

Which brings me back to: what do you and your players want from a game?


Well, the good news is that there are books since the launch that probably do indeed address several of your concerns.

The bad news is that, I imagine, "Go and spend a bunch more money on this game you may or may not end up playing on a regular basis" is generally not seen as the most helpful advice. >_>

So, first off, in terms of new books:
1) The books have included more and more flavor in them over the course of the edition. The most recent Monster Vaults include much more detailed monster lore and background and story possibilities, and stuff like that, I imagine, goes a decent way towards making things interesting to read. The Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, while a small monster book overall, has some exceptionally cool monsters in it, such as new things like the Wandering Tower (a tower-size mimic) to old classics like the Penanggalan.
2) The Essentials books have specifically aimed at trying to reintroduce some elements more familiar to 'old-school' players. Wizards focused on spell schools return; we have a fighter who doesn't have a massive list of powers, but just walks up to dudes and hits them in the face; and we have more emphasis on non-combat powers, from Wizard charm spells to druid and ranger benefits in the Wild - stuff like that.
3) The most recent magic item book, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium, has a hefty focus on having items with a great deal of story to them. It also has cursed items, mundane items, hirelings and henchmen, strongholds, along with a robust array of interesting wondrous items.
4) The DMG2 itself is simply an excellent book in terms of advice and ideas about the game.

On the other hand, I just tossed out a good half-dozen books - probably not an investment you want to make just to find out whether you actually like them. And given that many of these adjustments are focused on flavor and presentation, it isn't an area where getting a cheap DDI subscription will give you the best preview.

What might give you decent previews are, well, the excerpts themselves - WotC tends to give you a good chunk of preview material for upcoming products, so that might help give you a sense of whether the new material is interesting to you.

Here's a list of the products (previews are generally under 'related articles' halfway down the page):
Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium
Monster Vault
Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale (related articles requires clicking on a seperate tab)
Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
Heroes of the Fallen Lands
DMG2

And you may even have a final option for trying out some of these books - your local library. I was surprised to see how much my local branch had (basically everything up to the Essentials Heroes books, but not yet the Monster Vault stuff.)

So, will these books satisfy your concerns about the game? I can't really say for sure - I'm not sure what specific issues you may have had, or what your plan for the game even is. It sounds like you would be the DM - what sort of game might you have in mind? That might matter quite a bit in terms of what 4E might be able to offer, or what advice people can give.


Derivous wrote:

ciretose, unfortunately I haven't had an account at wotc for a long time. At least, I think...

Think my account name and such would still be active over there? After 10+ years?
I may go check and see. That would be cool.

Aubrey the Malformed, I wouldn't mind, but my players might. I'm the DM and really this line of questions is aimed at arming myself when speaking to a potentially unwilling gaming group. I'd like to show up at the table with some idea of why we should play it (aside from the novelty of something new) instead of sticking to the standby.

Thanks for the replies, by the way.

Run a one-shot for them with premades. At worst, you will have one session lost. At best you have a 2nd game to play. You can also have Pathfinder on standby if things start to go bad early.


malebranche wrote:

I've played 4th edition exactly once, and it wasn't quite my thing, but I can say a few good things for it.

4th edition is pretty combat-focused. I don't know if it's just groups that like to play 4th edition, or the game itself, but from my experience and what I've heard from others, there's not a lot of role-play. That said, if your players like to dungeon crawl this game is a good starting point.

Combat tends to be cinematic--even fighters have exciting powers. Just look at the descriptions.

Another thing about every class having fantastic powers is that you can always feel like a magic user (which in my opinion is a good thing, at least for a certain type of game) without having to do all that spellcasting number-crunching book-searching.

Skill challenges are also a mechanic I like, and can definitely be done in a more old-school way. 4th edition players are occasionally REQUIRED to use their skills for infiltration, knowledge, or other plot-related maneuvers, or they'll face a huge setback. Unlike Pathfinder and older editions, where using skills is more of an option. It's nice because it requires even simple fighters to use an aspect of their character that they normally might not care about.

Hope this helps!

This is a great post. I'll only note that the amount of combat versus the amount of roleplaying in your game will depend entirely on what you as the DM and the players decide you want to do. 4e is great at facilitating combat, and it's great at facilitating roleplaying. Combat tends to take a while (comparable to 3.5/Pathfinder), and it's a lot of fun, so that might explain some of the impression of combat making up a large chunk of the game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Derivous wrote:

LazarX said, "Bribing with Food might help though."

Maybe, but that would require removing the wife-enforced padlock from the fridge.

I agree with the sentiment, but these guys are definitely grognards (really, I am too). I've perceived a bit of a stigma against playing the edition in question and I'd say that that stigma is what I'm expecting to deal with.

Then shell out for a pizza and soda. Most places deliver. :)

We can't give advice for the determinedly obstinate. And as a recovering grognard, I can say that the condition CAN be cured, and really should be worked on. Being set in your ways is essentially surrendering to the fact that we're all growing older. I've chosen to fight a rearguard action by at least trying to make my mind more flexible again. And I may start by finally getting rid of my 1st edition books, maybe my 3.X stuff as well.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
Derivous wrote:

ciretose, unfortunately I haven't had an account at wotc for a long time. At least, I think...

Think my account name and such would still be active over there? After 10+ years?
I may go check and see. That would be cool.

Aubrey the Malformed, I wouldn't mind, but my players might. I'm the DM and really this line of questions is aimed at arming myself when speaking to a potentially unwilling gaming group. I'd like to show up at the table with some idea of why we should play it (aside from the novelty of something new) instead of sticking to the standby.

Thanks for the replies, by the way.

Run a one-shot for them with premades. At worst, you will have one session lost. At best you have a 2nd game to play. You can also have Pathfinder on standby if things start to go bad early.

If they're real grognards they probably hate Pathfinder just as much.


Great ideas gents. I never thought to look in a library!

My home town library was kind of a joke and even playing the game was inconceivable down here in the bible belt when I first picked up the hobby.

LazarX - in a completely selfish and unrelated conversation - are you really tossing the old 1st ed. books? I can foot the postage if you'd like to *ahem* donate them to a good cause.


I believe a one-shot is in order.

Are there any free pre-made adventures (a la an intro to an adventure path, free rpg day offering, etc.) worth picking up? I'd rather not have to convert anything for the first shot.


9 Reasons to Play 4th Edition

If that doesn't win them over, well, play the grognard card in your own favor. "I'm the DM this week, and I want to try these books that my dear aunt Sally was generous enough to gift me. If you don't want to, tough luck. You should have brought your ten foot pole, instead of your complaints!"

Well, okay, not quite like that. But I've found that DMs have quite a bit of pull in this sort of area. :)

P.S. Published adventures are not one of the reasons I love 4e. The general consensus on WotC 4e adventures ranges from mediocrity to lameness. I personally write all my own adventures.


The best argument I can give is to read the 4E Rules Compendium from the Essentials line. The guts of a simple, elegant, rules-light core system are there.

Also, read the section in the Dungeon Master's Guide on creating monsters. Then think of the wackiest monster you ever wanted to run in your games and use those rules to flesh it out. Even if what you come up with on your first shot isn't balanced (and it won't be), it's shockingly easy to do. The rules for creating monsters are very fluid and leave a lot of room for expression once you get a grip on the basics of the game.

It's a popcorn RPG. And that isn't a bad thing, when done right. (And "right" can now be debated in its full nuance in a 20 page thread.)


Derivous wrote:
Are there any free pre-made adventures (a la an intro to an adventure path, free rpg day offering, etc.) worth picking up? I'd rather not have to convert anything for the first shot.

I'm assuming the Forgotten Realms book you have is the Player's Guide rather than the Campaign Setting, because the latter includes a couple quick-start 1st level adventures which are pretty good.

Since you already have the Forgotten Realms book, you could also download any of the Living Forgotten Realms modules available for free from hereabouts.

I never thought they were great, so they may not inspire your players, but at least they're free.

For $10, though, you can pay for a month's worth of DDI which lets you download every single Dungeon and Dragon article ever. You'd have lots of adventures to choose from then. I especially recommend "Dead by Dawn" from issue 176. If you like skill challenges, this mod has some of the best integrated SCs I've seen. It's 2nd level, but it's no challenge to let your players make 2nd level characters to play it.

Plus, with a couple weeks of DDI, you can use the online character builder to show off all the different options for making characters.

Liberty's Edge

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Quick start rules, the updated Keep on the Shadowfell adventure and the 2009 Free RPG Day scenario Khyber's Harvest can be found here:
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/TryDnD.aspx.

I both play and have run 4e although I still prefer 3.5. Here are what I consider the good stuff:

Consistent Class Structure
All classes have a similar structure (at least pre Essentials) so once you know how to create a Fighter it is not a big leap to know how to create a Wizard.

However, don't be fooled into thinking the same structure means characters all play the same - although most characters have the same number of At Will, Encounter and Daily powers, what those powers can do varies greatly!

For example some At Will Attack powers:
Class one (Wizard - Thunderwave): Affects everyone in a close 3x3 blast, targetting Fortitude and does 1d6 + Intelligence modifier thunder damage, and pushes the targets a number of squares equal to the PC's Wisdom modifier.

Class two (Fighter - Reaping Strike with Greateaxe): Affects one adjacent target, targetting AC and does d12 + Strength modifier damage, and even on a miss does damage equal to Strength modifier.

Class three (Warlord - Commander's Strike): Affects one target adjacent to one of your allies, the ally gets to make a basic melee attack against the target (e.g. a Rogue could make an attack with a dagger, targetting AC and doing d4 + Strength modifier damage)

Pacing of Powers
The At Will, Encounter and Daily classifications of powers is great for pacing purposes.

Having At Will powers (including spells for magic users) means a wizard never runs out of spells and thus has to rest to continue to contribute magic support.

Encounter Powers give that extra big power that you can safely use in an encounter without having to worry about whether you should have saved it for a later encounter with toughter foes (which may actually never happen and so if you did save the spell you wasted it).

Daily Powers are the big guns that you pull out when facing down a really tough foe - they are Daniel's Crane Kick at the end of The Karate Kid but restricted in their use so you don't see the player constantly using it (i.e. it supports narrative pacing).

General Competency in skills
Every character gets more competent in the adventuring skills even without having to constantly spend resources such as Feats to train in them. So after 10 adventures even the Paladin has learnt to be a bit more stealthy.

This is great because it allows the party to try stuff as a group (e.g. sneaking into a palace) without having such a disparity in skill levels that one PC is going to succeed without breaking a sweat whereas the others simply cannot succeed.

But again, don't think that means all character look the same. Ability modifiers, Skill Training, Skill Focus and some Utility Powers can still give enough level of differentiation.

For example, a 6th level fighter with Cha of 12 will have a +4 Diplomacy bonus (half level + Cha modifier) but the 6th Level Paladin with Cha 16, Skill Training in Diplomacy and Skill Focus in Diplomacy will have a +14 bonus (half level + Cha modifier +5 for trained +3 for focus). And if he has the Diplomacy Skill Power of Haggle he can re-roll a Diplomacy check once an encounter!

NPCs use different rules
In some ways I don't like this, but in other ways I do. If I as GM want to use a Troll against my PCs, but feel the version in the MM is a little too tough there are simple rules that allow me to scale it down without having to unpick feats, skill points, etc. The Monster modification rules assume the Monster probably does have feats, masterwork items etc to gain bonuses but wraps all that up in a simple set of numbers.

Equally if I then decide a want that troll to be able to be a sole foe in a combat I can simply apply the rules to make it a solo monster - worth extra XP but having more HP, greater attacks (an encounter power becomes At will), better defenses and action points. The rules are literally just a quarter of a page.

Also because of these different rules, apart from perhaps having to look up the odd keyword, a monster's stat block is completelt self contained - no need to go looking up feats and spells ala Pathfinder, you can just look at the stat block and know how that monster works.

The key thing to remember is that the monster stats are there for how they can interact with the PCs, mainly on an in-combat basis (they do have skills however) - how they interact with other NPCs is completely up to the GM.

So while a monster may only be able to Dominate a PC for a round or two of combat there is nothing to stop the GM saying that the monster can dominate the village mayor indefinately. The PCs are the heroes, they don't get dominated for weeks just for a few seconds before digging deep and shaking it off.

Skills before spells
In 4e there are Rituals that allow for detection of secret doors, unlocking of doors, comprehending languages etc. However because rituals take time and cost a bit of money skills are still the best way to resolve such challenges.

What this does is still allows wizards to be able to solve all these types of problems but without outshining the other PCs who have specialised in such areas. So a rogue could pick a lock before the wizard gets a chance to cast Knock, but if the rogue isn't there the wizard can still do it.

Distributed Healing
While I am not a big fan of 4e's rule that everyone regains full HP overnight, I am a big fan of the fact that every character is able to recover some HP by themselves (short rests) and even in combat (second wind).

This means although its nice to have a healer in the group it isn't as "essential" as many people feel it is in PF. In fact I found PF's Channelling just made the disparity in healing ability of a party with a cleric and without even greater - 4e's solution is much more elegant I feel.

This also solves the issue of clerics having to spend actions in combat healing (and thus not getting a chance to do otehr cool stuff), in 4e a PC can take an action themselves to heal a bit.

Also by making HP more a measure of how long you can stay on your feet fighting, not just a measure of luck and health, you can have non-magic users "heal" HP by giving a morale boost (imagine an army sergeant shouting at a private to get back on their feet and stop whinging like a baby). So even if you do want a "healer" in your party it doesn't have to be a cleric.

Consolidated Skills
4e has just the right amount of skills for me, I maybe occassionally wish it had a craft skill or a perform skill, but its easy enough to call for an ability check with a circumstance bonus for a relevant background.

IMHO 3.5 and Pathfinder still have too many skills (Fly? Swim still seperate from Athletics), especially when it comes to Knowledges and Professions - to the point that in my experience many don't get used as the chances of a party having a specific skill (e.g. Knowledge Engineering, Professions Baker) are slim.

The layout of the books
I ma not sure about Essenials but for me the original 4e books, PHB, DMG etc have a great layout. A clean white background with black text that is easy to read, with colour coding and symbols to highlight how a power works, e.g. At Will, Basic Melee Attack (but still having words to back that up). Each race and class starts on a new page making it easy to flip through a find something.

Plus the PDFs I have of the PHB, DMG and MM render pretty quickly on my android phone and Eee PC whereas the Paizo pdfs are really poor (so much so that I ended up buying hardcopy when I hadn't planned to).

Non combat support
Oh, as a final thought, 4e can seem very combat oriented by reading the books as a lot of space is taken up with Powers. But bear in mind, Powers are something 4e has in addition to all the cool stuff like Skill and Feats that PF has.

So 4e has IMHO as much support for non-combat encounters (investigation, exploration, social scenes etc) than PF does but it also has all these cool powers for combat. In terms of spells powers are the in-combat spells whilst rituals are the out of combat spells (but even then some powers are very useful out of combat too, e.g. Invisibility that can be sustained indefinately).

In fact it could be argued 4e has more support for non-combat activities as it has the Skill Challenge mechanic. Although there have been teething issue getting the numbers right, and the presentation perhaps doesn't explain quite how to run them as well as they can be run, they are great mechanisms for determining success or failure in prolonged tasks that require a combination of skills to succeed.

Luckily Skill Challenges can be used in PF pretty easily too, and if you don't like Skill Challenges you can just fall back to the way you handle such stuff in PF as individual skill checks to determine success are still there.

Anyway, hopefully that is some help.


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Personally, I wouldnt play any new roleplaying game system if the players were hesitant. No matter what the game, in my experience, the first few sessions are un-fun as everyone learns the rules.

If people are trying it out reluctantly (or even skeptically) I think it can quickly turn in to either nit-picking or (even worse, in my view) a situation of just going through the motions without really getting invested.


I'm going to have to disagree with Steve here because variety is the spice of life. Just because you try and play 4E doesn't mean that you can't go back to Pathfinder at some point later.

This is what my group does. We rotate DMs (or if you don't, rotate RPGs) and each DM wants to try something different. I love running 4E as it's super simple, easy to create, and just as fun as other systems. Another DM in my group loves Pathfinder and runs their APs (which is loads of fun too). A 3rd DM loves Star Wars and has ran us in a few Star Wars: SAGA campaign. Often times i'll do one-shots with Modern d20, v3.5, or 4E. It keeps things interesting and fun.

At times, a campaign can last a few weeks to a few months depending on everyone's "fun-level". As a DM you can kinda see where people can become sorta bored with the campaign or their characters or the plot. So we'll switch it up for a while.

I've never adhered to the fact that your stuck in one RPG nor should people feel obligated to stick to one RPG. Give it a go, make up a quick 1st level Adventure (don't use Keep on the Shadowfell, plz) and see how they enjoy the mechanics/play of the game. Keep in mind that it takes a few sessions for your PCs to get the hang of their powers, how to best use them, and the modifiers to their rolls.

Most of all, have fun!


I'll second Diffan's sentiment. My group also rotates GMs, and one of us prefers a sci-fi rpg called Blue Planet. BP is about as far from any edition of D&D as you can get. I prefer fantasy over sci-fie, and realistic games aren't my favorite, but I play and enjoy BP when it's run. Why? Because the guy who runs it is a friend, and because he's willing, no...enthusiastic about GMing his game.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:
I'll second Diffan's sentiment. My group also rotates GMs, and one of us prefers a sci-fi rpg called Blue Planet. BP is about as far from any edition of D&D as you can get. I prefer fantasy over sci-fie, and realistic games aren't my favorite, but I play and enjoy BP when it's run. Why? Because the guy who runs it is a friend, and because he's willing, no...enthusiastic about GMing his game.

You brought up Realistic games and that made me think of our d20 Modern game. For it being realistic, it was a LOT of fun as we did a Resident Evil campaign based in our home city of Pittsburgh (the birth-place of George A. Romero). Basically the plague spread far and wide and Pittsburgh was one of the few cities surviving and thriving a bit (see Land of the Dead). The PCs were highly trained specialists working for Umbrella to fix a lot of the wrongs in the city. Getting train transportation back up, cleaning up Hospitals and finding refugees along the suburbs of zombie-ville.

It helped keeped ground our visualiation in the setting because we could visit it and could see it easily in our minds. I kept the campaign rather straight forward but put them against really big odds as zombies surround them and they get attacked by giant spiders, lickers, and other Resident Evil creatures.

All in all, a really fun time.


Wow, DigitalMage's, write up was very good. It clearly shows the selling points, and even in a way that it explains away some of the misconceptions that others have about the game.

If anything I would print it out and use it as an intro for your players to read as a reason to try out the edition.

The key thing for me, is to rememeber that the books are Rulebooks, so they will be heavy on mechanics and combat and how to adjudicate it. These are things that need to be clarified and presented, but Role-playing comes from the player, not the rules. The system is crisp, clean, and much less confusing or subject to interpretation than I have seen in other systems. As both a player and a DM, this allows me much more time to focus on setting the scene, or adding flair to the descriptions of my characters, and less on making sure the rule was read correctly or used as intended.


I'm not so certain that Diffan and Steve Geddes are saying things that are really that much at cross points. In general I can easily see how a rotating DM type situation would be popular even while conceding that the first session of most games and maybe the first two of a new one can be a bit clunky.

Part of that is learning the rules but part of that is because character concepts tend to have not completely gelled yet.

I definitely think Digital Mage did a really good summary of 4E.

I'll point out that a lot of what attracts my to the system is that its very heavy on DM side tools. The mechanics are generally building blocks for creating NPCs, Monsters and adventure elements of whatever the DM can conceive of.

However none of this is going to play a big part of a one shot and all of it does take some getting used to. One of the more common questions one gets from DMs coming over from 3.X/PF is 'how do I make...? and the answer is invariably 'bu the act of saying it is so and then looking up some level appropriate numbers.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'm not so certain that Diffan and Steve Geddes are saying things that are really that much at cross points. In general I can easily see how a rotating DM type situation would be popular even while conceding that the first session of most games and maybe the first two of a new one can be a bit clunky.

Yeah, I agree with what Diffan said (we've also rotated through many systems over the years). My point was that I wouldn't roll out many systems just for variety if the players weren't interested in doing so.


DigitalMage really puts out a lot of good points. And those are huge factors in why I favor 4E over a lot of previous systems (mainly v3.5 and PF).

Couple of other things:

  • Narrative is everything. In v3.5 there was a feat that allowed you to change the spell's description (and gave a bonus vs. counterspells) but in 4E, it's totally up to the player to describe what's happening. This, I feel, is something innovative and doesn't require finite resources to use. A necromancer might have his Magic Missile look like tiny flaming skulls, or his Shield spell might look like a wall of bones erupted from the ground or whatever your imagination could be.
  • Disassociation of hard mechanics. Basically martial character (or those that have no "magical" talent) using Daily and Encounter powers. I think one of the biggest complaints is "How can a fighter *forget* their Daily power?! That breaks verisimilitude!" and to which I'd probably assume they'd have a very narrow imagination or have absoultely no idea how difficult it is to pull off such maneuvers. I always use the analoogy of lifting weights. People have limits to their physical prowess just like there are limits to magic. Sometimes a power is so difficult that it takes some rest to attempt again. Plain and simple, you can't bench 300 lbs 15x every 10 minutes.
  • Party Composition. In earlier version of D&D you needed a healer, specifically a cleric and you needed a skill-monkey, specifically a rogue. The fighter aspect could be filled by any melee-centric class and most people wanted to play Arcane spellcasters because they were powerful and changed the world. But in 4E, because of class balance, party composition is a lot more diverse. A Warlord or Bard can fulfill the role of the healer and the party won't suffer for it. The Ranger, Monk, or Assassin can work just as good as the rogue for being the damage dealer/skill monkey and the party one suffer for it. The Paladin or Swordmage both make great defenders and the party won't suffer (and the Fighter is pretty damn good too!). And the wizard is easily supplanted by the Druid, Invoker, or Psion and the change is in flavor and playstyle NOT in balance or effectiveness.

    Long gone are the grips of fun or cool classes rendered useless by the mechanics. Yes, there are differences in balance and certain playstyles work better with certain classes but overall, as long as you have most of the "role" covered, then you're all set.

  • Inherent Bonuses. While I haven't used them yet the DMG 2 has rules on using these bonuses instead of Enchantment bounses on weapons. So long gone are the days of +1, +2, +3 items where it was manditory to keep up with Monster power-creep. Long gone are the days of hard decisions of using a +2 flaming longsword (your preferred wepaon) to a newly aquired +3 rending battle-axe (a more supeerior weapon). It's now down to weapon properties and flavor vs. hard mechanics.
  • Those are some of the best improvements I've seen come to D&D for a long time.


    I was going to chime in with my own lengthy description of 4e but I have to admit, DigitalMage sums it up pretty nicely actually.

    Over all, I enjoy playing 4E but I also enjoy playing PF. You can have people that enjoy both but the games do play very differently, and it's not an issue of "more combat vs more roleplay". When I play PF, I feel a bit more like the game is on a knifes edge, and players can and need to exploit their strengths to succeed. Where as in 4e, I feel the game is less lethal, (which some find boring) but there's some feel that the game tends to enforce team play a bit better.

    Still, both are fun but perhaps a good one-shot and some pre-generated characters would be the best trial one could give it for their group.


    I started out with the blue cover basic (the 1978 booklet, didnt get the box set, wish I did, since I didnt have dice until about 1981). Went into Ad&D, then in 2005, started playing 3.5 after skipping 2nd Ed. In 2006, I wasn't playing at all until 2008. Now, I play 4th edition.

    Rule #1 was missing from 3.5, and that is its biggest downfall.

    Rule #1 is once again rule #1, which gives the edition a very AD&D feeling to it. The rule arguments at the table dont exist any more, the interaction is much more real. The imagination is very real.

    I disagree that 4e doesnt handle roleplaying well. Unless your idea of roleplaying is rolling a d20.

    in combat, there is very real cooperation between the party, because things that one player does, often affects one or more of the other players. The buffing that went on prior to combat in 3.5 seemed very stilted, and programed. In 4e, their is buffing, but it isnt encounter breaking, and it is fluid, a part of the encounter, and evolves, and doesnt usually last forever. Most positive effects last until the end of the buffing characters turn, and negative effects until a saving throw is made.

    3.5 is a very antogonistic approach to gaming. 3.5 deffinatly has a I win you Lose feeling, pitting player vs DM (which the deck is stacked in the player's advantage) and player vs player (arcane casters trump, after a few levels of being protected by the fighter).

    The end of the adventuring "day" when the caster is out of spells, or really out of their highest level spells. that wizard can cast magic missile all day long. and those encounter powers, although gone right now, after a short study period, are back in mind. There is also a mechanical advantage to continue the march, instead of finding a hidey-hole for 8 hours.

    As far as the dayly martial power, the above description works well, it can also be explainded that the perfect oportunity to use this power at this time is the opponent has to be in the right place, the pc has to be in the right place, etc.

    The adventures that WoTC produces are designed to be light on story, becasue the story is supposed to come from the table, not the booklet. Which is where the story is supposed to come from. There is a little plot, there is a little hooking, and then great encounters. the plot, the story, the hooks, are supposed to come from the coopertive story telling at the table, instead of being railroaded from this hook, through this plot, and these encounters.

    I love that WoTC isnt trying to tell OUR story, just assisting the telling, by giving me great encounters.

    I am sure this is a ramble, which most of my posts are. OP: if your friends arent willing to try it out, give WoTC's encounters program at your FLGS a go. My fiends embraced it, even the hard core 3.5 optimizer who would only play 6th level and higher arcane spell casters is enjoying it.

    The Exchange

    I faced the same Dilemma with my gaming group when I first began to DM this. They were nearly all Pathfinder players, but since I had the basic rules for 4th edition, I really wanted to run them. The game looked like a great system to DM for me, since I really enjoy creating extra little bits in my games, though run mostly pregenned adventures as the main frame of a game.

    I got my group to trial it for a one off at fist, letting them know that they wouldn't have to purchase any books as I could provide whatever they needed intially.

    We ran the first part of Scales of war, which I had already obtained in my enthusiasm. Got through three encounters and a skill challenge.

    It took folks a while to realise how to play, to be honest. We had a Shaman in that group, and it is probably not the class I would throw in as the initial leader class as it took much getting used to in terms of how its healing abilities and Summoned spirit totem worked.

    The guys playing fighting types loved the action abilities. The guys playing casters were somewhat confused by the lack of Vancian system.

    However, the module itself and the ease at which the combats themselves ran was enough to bring all but one of the players back for more. The guy who didn't play again was a caster lover in Pathfinder, and he really hated losing that mechanic in 4th edition.

    I later lost another player (3 months in) purely because he didn't want to have to keep the rules of two different systems in his head.

    Interestingly enough, I lost two players from my Pathfinder group to my 4th edition group as well. They both stated they just enjoyed the way 4th edition ran so much that it really overshadowed Pathfinder for them.

    I play weekly, but alternate between Pathfinder and 4th edition now. I have 4 players in each campaign, with two of them overlapping games.

    My advice is let them try it. Come prepared to run the first fight with an eye to explaining combats. Make sure the first game mission or module is interesting and has a few different aspects to show off (combat, skill challenge, roleplay).

    Encourage players to create some of the less complex classes to run. I wouldn't choose a shaman or summoner, for instance. Warlords also are difficult to run at first, as the mindset behind one is completely different to almost any class in Pathfinder.

    If you only have the first PHB, go for a fighter, cleric, ranger, wizard and either warlock or rogue for extra striker love.

    Combats last longer, as there are more critters and many of them have more hit points. However, combat real time is about the same, since there's less looking through spell lists etc to get the players or DM's turn done.

    Be prepared to explain healing surges before the game starts. MAnagement of these are what limits a party now, rather than spell slots.

    I'm glad I tried it, and the guys playing 4th are also very glad we tried it. Certainly, it can't hurt. At worst you lose a gaming session. At best, you've all found a new system to play.

    Cheers


    I have to underscore Scott Bett's statement. 4e is a combat heavy game only if you make it a combat heavy game. Most people who throw their nose up at 4e weren't playing at a table where the DM wasn't playing a role-playing centered game, and I was guilty of this myself at one point. Once I started running 4e games in a more old school fashion, the system really didn't matter anymore.

    The major shining point for me (and this was mentioned before in the thread) is the prep. It is just way too damn easy to build encounters, hell I've built them during play! And that gives me more time to focus on story. My current gaming schedule consists of two 4e campaigns that I run on alternating Fridays and a weekly Pathfinder game I play in on Sunday, and that's the way I like it. I just simply cannot get into DMing 3.5/Pathfinder. The rules for monster building, magic, weather, and practically physics all make my head hurt. But I love playing my PF Half-Orc Barbarian and I'm lucky enough to have a DM who gets all that.

    Oh and don't touch the WotC modules. They suck. From what I hear, ENWorld's Zeitgeist is really good, or check out Scott's Rise of the Runelords 4e conversion at Tales from the Rusty Dragon

    And if you would like to see what I consider a 4e campaign done well, check out Chris Heard's Stormhaven campaign podcast. -> Icosahedrophilia


    Many thanks, folks.

    As soon as we have an unclaimed Friday we will be testing it out.

    The Exchange

    Derivous wrote:

    Many thanks, folks.

    As soon as we have an unclaimed Friday we will be testing it out.

    Hey Derivious, I took some advice from another thread that suggested checking the War of the Burning sky AP for 4E as well. I downloaded the first module right here from Paizo for the low sum of $6.99. There's also a free players guide and a free Campaign guide for you.

    I'd heavily advise you have a look at this to run with your group. It's an interesting setting and a very interesting module for a first game (The initial encounters are well designed and have many interesting elements). It would fall into the category of "Make it fun" that I put forward earlier.

    A little railroady but for $7 I reckon it's great.

    Cheers


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Wrath wrote:
    Derivous wrote:

    Many thanks, folks.

    As soon as we have an unclaimed Friday we will be testing it out.

    Hey Derivious, I took some advice from another thread that suggested checking the War of the Burning sky AP for 4E as well. I downloaded the first module right here from Paizo for the low sum of $6.99. There's also a free players guide and a free Campaign guide for you.

    I'd heavily advise you have a look at this to run with your group. It's an interesting setting and a very interesting module for a first game (The initial encounters are well designed and have many interesting elements). It would fall into the category of "Make it fun" that I put forward earlier.

    A little railroady but for $7 I reckon it's great.

    Cheers

    If you want to get ahold of War of the Burning Sky, the best way is to head over to EN World and sign up for a Community Supporter Subscription. It's $3 per month and you get a ton of stuff, including the entire adventure path.

    I don't believe there's anything stopping you from signing up for a month, downloading the entire AP, and then canceling your subscription. Not necessarily the most scrupulous tactic, but it's there.


    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    If you want some well written adventures I highly recommend either of Open Design's 4E adventures.

    Courts of the Shadow Fey is a very political adventure, for levels 12-15. Lot's of fantastic NPC interaction.

    The Lost City is a more traditional sandbox adventure for levels 14 to 17. It would be a perfect fit for Dark Sun as well.

    Of course, both of those are Paragon Tier. I really wish Wrath of the River King wasn't patron exclusive, because that is a fantastic first 4E adventure. But if you want to dive into the middle of 4E and see what it feels like beyond the first few levels, those two are fantastic modules.

    (Disclaimer: I was a patron for those products, so I may be biased. But I didn't actually contribute anything of note. I am a loyal patron because OD puts out good work.)


    Just to add the fact 4E is a base to build upon, because it is a streamlined rule set. Beyond not liking the mechanics, or being able set yourself free of previous rule sets (bias), you have to understand the ease of DMing the system frees you up to add in all the intangibles to the game in regards to plot, story, items, etc. So re-focus you energy in other areas, if you don't need to spend hours on monster creation, special abilities or spell selection, or devising a suitable challenge rating for a party. The only thing that takes time to understand it skill challenges, and I would recommend running them in parallel with combat to offer options, or make them broad in scope when outside of combat, so it doesn't become a focused skill rolling session.

    I would also recommend reading the rules compendium as previously stated.


    Uchawi wrote:
    Just to add the fact 4E is a base to build upon, because it is a streamlined rule set. Beyond not liking the mechanics, or being able set yourself free of previous rule sets (bias), you have to understand the ease of DMing the system frees you up to add in all the intangibles to the game in regards to plot, story, items, etc. So re-focus you energy in other areas, if you don't need to spend hours on monster creation, special abilities or spell selection, or devising a suitable challenge rating for a party.

    This is a really good point for a group that traditionally plays 3.x/PF. Particularly if your a player. After all how the heck does your DM having all these extra hours for cuddle time with their other half benefit you right? Clearly it doesn't. You should demand that your DM not skimp out on the prep. Insist that s/he wears some kind of tracking device during prep time so you can keep tabs on the time spent. Demand that the DM spend more time practising the funny NPC voices in the mirror or does a detailed heraldic scheme for the noble houses in the campaign...err actually scratch that last one - do you really want to have to listen to the DM drone on about fantasy noble houses? If that starts up maybe you should suggest to the DM that more cuddle time with their other half would do them some good.

    The Exchange

    Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
    After all how the heck does your DM having all these extra hours for cuddle time with their other half benefit you right? Clearly it doesn't.

    Not trying the benefit the players in that regard...


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I'm just about to start running The Lost City on the boards here. It looks very good. Courts was fantastic fun from start to finish and has a ton of replay value as no party will approach the challenges in the same way.

    I absolutely agree that 4e is a structural dream for the GM. I'm not a huge mechanics bunny, and I am a drama person, so it suits me perfectly. I can encourage role play and create potentially lethal encounters.


    I don't want to take the time to read all the other responses here but I'll throw in a couple coppers. I've only played 4e once but I've look through the system fairly thoroughly and I will say I do not love the system, but it has some upsides. I think the biggest for me is that combat is necessarily a group activity. Everyone has a role to fulfill, and while there can be some overlap you still can't just run a party of wizards. In addition, the powers are designed to work together if built properly. There are some amazing team synergy options available with only a little bit of plumbing for them (first examples I noticed were when I was planning a warlord and my friend was planning a sword and board fighter). Also, in terms or sheer balance, 4e has done a very good job from what I've seen.

    Things I don't like are mainly skills and alignment. Skills scale with levels, which means that a lower level character simply can't be better than a higher level character at skills. Even if the higher level character has zero interest in skills. Alignment is reduced to LG and CE being more good and more evil, though this is fairly easily hand-waved away.

    As for anyone who is going to argue that it is just a combat system with no chance for roleplaying, that is just a corollary to the stormwind fallacy. Roleplaying is not opposed to optimization because roleplaying has nothing to do with the system, and thus a system cannot preclude roleplaying. The system determines the outcomes of most things, and it directs the flavor, but how much RP is involved depends on the DM and players. Frankly one of the best RP sessions I had was that one session of 4e because we had a great DM, and I'd be happy to play 4e again if he were running it.

    Liberty's Edge

    hgsolo wrote:
    Things I don't like are mainly skills and alignment. Skills scale with levels, which means that a lower level character simply can't be better than a higher level character at skills. Even if the higher level character has zero interest in skills.

    Slightly off topic, but BAB in 3e/4e d20 goes up 'by level', as combat is really just another skill it's not that much of a leap that all skills increase as your level goes up. I don't mind this at all - heroes are just better than the common person. Sort of like justifying why my 20th Expert in ancient scrolls from the Jaba period seems to be able to beat a 5th level fighter in combat?

    Musings,
    S.

    PS: I know you said you had the 4e books - and with the 3 actually you need nothing else. BUT, if you did find them interesting you might want to check out the Essentials line. In terms of a 'closed' 4e based system my year long group is nothing but Essentials and are finding it an excellent RPG.

    Liberty's Edge

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
    hgsolo wrote:
    Skills scale with levels, which means that a lower level character simply can't be better than a higher level character at skills. Even if the higher level character has zero interest in skills.

    While that can be true at the extremes, with Skill Training and the Skill Focus feat alone a 1st level character can have a better skill modifier than a 15th level character.

    1st level character: Half Level, rounded down = 0, Skill Training +5, Skill Focus +3 = +8

    15th level character: Half level, rounded down = 7 = +7

    Ability modifier is also factored in so it is possible that a 1st level character could have a higher skill modifier than even characters beyond 15th level.

    Add in a few other feats such as Alertness (+2 to Perception) or Escape Artist (+2 Escape artist) and a character could have a higher skill modifier than a character nearly 20 levels above them!

    This is one of the things I like about 4e, everyone gets broadly better at everything so they at least have a chance of contributing in each area, but those who want to specialise still can and can be much better than those who don't.

    Liberty's Edge

    Derivous wrote:

    I have played every iteration of D&D since 2nd and now play Pathfinder (quite fondly, I might add). I have been gifted a few 4e books and I leafed through them, but not extensively.

    (I have the PHB 1, Forgotten Realms and one more I can't remember at the moment.)

    Perhaps age is an obstacle here. I just don't find the books all that interesting and I'm not sure I see any changes that were all that needful but I'm reserving my opinion here until I can talk to someone who's played the game.

    Is there something I'm missing?

    I'd hate to waste gifted books.

    I want the books!! Send them to me! Im sure we could work out a fair price?

    Dark Archive

    DigitalMage wrote:

    Quick start rules, the updated Keep on the Shadowfell adventure and the 2009 Free RPG Day scenario Khyber's Harvest can be found here:

    http://www.wizards.com/dnd/TryDnD.aspx.

    I was fairly underwhelmed with Keep on the Shadowfell.

    The Alexandrian has done a revision of it on his blog; I quite like the suggested changes.

    Alexandrian.net

    Not sure if anyone has already mentioned it, but the first few 4th edition issues of Dungeon are available for free from the WotC website (or at least, they used to be).

    Dungeon 155


    @Derivous - I was unconvinced about 4e from August 2007("I was there when WotC unveiled 4e at GENCON") through February 2011.

    What changed my mind is that it was the only system that I could assemble a group to play.

    In the end, you as the GM/DM/Ref have a lot to say about style, etc.

    Check out my 4e WWW site for Bold Beginnings.

    You will see a lot of AD&D, 2nd Ed. AD&D, etc. conventions having been converted to 4e.

    It is still a lot of fun to sit around the gaming table, trading bad cultural references, and doing silly things in games.

    Is it the best system of all time? No, please see

    Staats' review here.

    Is it playable and fun? Yes, as long as the group is up for the type of play that it provides.

    PROs:

    • It is nearly infinitely easier to find a party to play 4th Ed. D&D than earlier versions. (x3 on this PRO)

    • If you have an account with D&D insider then "monster prep" and "NPC stat/ability prep" for a session are much, much easier - this becomes more pronounced the higher level the party is.

    • The basics of the gaming system are trivial to learn (even for the math phobic), much easier than teaching someone that -AC is better and how to use THAC0.

    • Combat tends to flow relatively quickly compared to say 3.0 and 3.5. My take is that it takes a little longer to do a combat for the same number of participants than it did in AD&D and 2nd Ed. AD&D.

    CONs:

    • You have to work harder for a Campaign to take on a serious tone. Death has lost its sting, because, unless you are a $$%#%%# as a GM, it is very, very hard for players to be harmed in any meaningful way or to die. (It generally takes three failed saving throws once the PC gets to zero HP or below for the character to die. Even when one of my PCs fell into a pool of lava, the players groused that he should have survived. Also, the rules point out that monsters ignore PCs that "fall down.") Undead do not drain levels or limit abilities. Effects evaporate with single, easy-to-make saving throws.

    • The classes are largely undifferentiated compared to AD&D and 2nd Ed. AD&D. The warlock fires bolts of necrotic energy out of his wand. The Ki master fires bolts of energy out of his orb. The fighter fires bolts of energy out of his sword, and all do about the same damage.

    • It is harder to tie in-game abilities with items from fantasy literature (at least I find it so). The rules and "powers" are so highly balanced that it is very difficult to tie something cool in without disrupting play and balance.

    All of the CONs can be overcome, but sometimes you have to work up to them.

    I did pronounce the PC dead on dunk when he fell into the molten lava. It took nine months and having already given the party some "cheats" that killed monsters instantly earlier, but the group now accepts that sometimes death comes swiftly without endless saving throws.

    I've slowly introduced into the campaign the concept that some effects like curses, powerful spells, etc. last beyond one measly 11 throw on a D20.

    They will find that undead will drain abilities and stats.

    Etc.

    Hope that helps!

    In service,

    Rich
    www.drgames.org


    hgsolo wrote:
    As for anyone who is going to argue that it is just a combat system with no chance for roleplaying, that is just a corollary to the stormwind fallacy. Roleplaying is not opposed to optimization because roleplaying has nothing to do with the system, and thus a system cannot preclude roleplaying. The system determines the outcomes of most things, and it directs the flavor, but how much RP is involved depends on the DM and players. Frankly one of the best RP sessions I had was that one session of 4e because we had a great DM, and I'd be happy to play 4e again if he were running it.

    I have run a 4e Campaign now for nine months.

    I would not argue that 4e is only a combat system.

    What I would say is that pure role-playing and non-combat applications are more of a stretch for 4e than say AD&D or 2nd Ed. AD&D.

    There were spells in the first two editions for non-combat applications that lasted potentially for days. So far, there are no equivalent "powers" in 4th Ed. D&D.

    There is a single chapter on skills and a few pages that describe "skill challenges" as being a potential non-combat action mechanic while there are hundreds of pages that talk about combat.

    It is fair to say that pure role-playing and non-combat encounters are more marginalized under 4e.

    In service,

    Rich
    www.drgames.org


    DrGames wrote:
    It generally takes three failed saving throws once the PC gets to zero HP or below for the character to die. Even when one of my PCs fell into a pool of lava, the players groused that he should have survived.

    See, the proper approach is to hand out this useful rules accessory before the game, and make sure everyone is familiar with it!

    That said, while I think certain types of death (which is to say, swift, random death) is certainly less likely, death as a whole is still a real threat. (My gladiator died two sessions into my friend's new Dark Sun game, for example.)

    Some of it does come down to expectations, though - but that is more an issue with players and the DM than the system itself. Similarly, I find that the rules tend to offer more room for RP and story, rather than less - though I am admittedly comparing that to my experiences with 3rd Edition, rather than even earlier editions. As it is, though, my game this weekend featured little-to-no combat over the course of a 6-7 hour session, and yet the players over the course of it escaped a collapsing mansion, masterminded a jailbreak, oversaw an important bargain for their merchant caravan, and located and snuck into the local underworld establishments to take part in gambling tournaments.

    Skills were used a-plenty. Rituals were called upon, spells like suggestion were thrown around, disguises and sneaking and bluffing were performed, and quite a few racial and class abilities came into play. Along with copious amounts of appropriate RP.

    And this is with a ground that, in our 3rd Edition games, could go entire sessions without ever getting into character (other than "chop things up and take their stuff.")

    I certainly recognize that experiences aren't universal, and others have had different results in their games. I've certain played plenty of sessions, both 4E and 3rd Edition and 2nd Ed, that were nothing other than dungeon-crawls and hack-and-slashing. But that always game down to the person running the game and the group playing it, not the system.

    Some folks might run 4E with RP and story minimalized - but I don't think there is anything about the system itself that marginalizes such things.


    DrGames wrote:
    You have to work harder for a Campaign to take on a serious tone. Death has lost its sting, because, unless you are a $$%#%%# as a GM, it is very, very hard for players to be harmed in any meaningful way or to die. (It generally takes three failed saving throws once the PC gets to zero HP or below for the character to die. Even when one of my PCs fell into a pool of lava, the players groused that he should have survived. Also, the rules point out that monsters ignore PCs that "fall down.") Undead do not drain levels or limit abilities. Effects evaporate with single, easy-to-make saving throws.

    I'll be completely honest: this disturbs me. You can easily make things serious without throwing deaths out left and right. If anything, super lethal games become decidedly non-serious and begin to take on a parody tone.

    Quote:
    The classes are largely undifferentiated compared to AD&D and 2nd Ed. AD&D. The warlock fires bolts of necrotic energy out of his wand. The Ki master fires bolts of energy out of his orb. The fighter fires bolts of energy out of his sword, and all do about the same damage.

    This is literally false. The only two classes off the top of my head that use Ki focus are monks and executioners, and neither throw bolts of energy, much less use orbs. And no fighters throw out bolts of energy. And no, they don't do the same damage. This is flat out objectively wrong.

    Quote:
    It is harder to tie in-game abilities with items from fantasy literature (at least I find it so). The rules and "powers" are so highly balanced that it is very difficult to tie something cool in without disrupting play and balance.

    I disagree that things need to be unbalanced in order to be cool. People don't love immobile rods because they're so superpowered and unbalanced.

    Quote:
    I've slowly introduced into the campaign the concept that some effects like curses, powerful spells, etc. last beyond one measly 11 throw on a D20.

    Truly powerful curses should probably follow the disease track rather then be treated like any other standard power. 4e's disease track owns.

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