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mygif

I’m kinda a D&D guy, so I’ll just add this.

One of the problems with 3rd Edition was that fights at the highest levels could end before they began. Some of the 5th+ level spells, when used by properly min-maxed characters, could kill an enemy – hell, a whole horde of enemies – in the first round of combat. This made dramatic fights significantly less dramatic. Imagine a Green Lantern comic in which Lantern just pulls out his ring and blasts Sinestro’s head off two frames into the strip. Games went a lot like that.

So, in order to make fights more drawn out they jacked up the HP of everything. Monsters are actually sorted into four supertypes – minion, standard, elite, and solo – with the marked difference being hit point totals. They also tried to steer the game towards a minitures-style group-on-group fight. Where in 3e a single Ogre was considered a fair fight against four adventurers, now you should expect to see 4-on-4 as the default fight.

D&D – particularly the RPGA – lost a sizable player base to WoW, and WotC recognizes that their D&D minis collectible line is the economic equivalent of printing money, so they’ve been trying to roll the pen&paper game in with the Warhammer-esque minis scene.

I’ve played through the first mod, and as a DM I’ve never had more fun. My players seemed to like their characters a fair bit as they warmed up to them. That’s not to say 4e doesn’t have problems, but I give it 3.5 out of 5 with plenty of room for improvement if WotC wants to go the distance. It has a solid foundation and all the makings of a good game.

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malakim2099 said on May 30th, 2008 at 7:44 pm

I’ve done a few online sessions, and it’s been a lot more fun than prior editions in the combat. It goes very smoothly and it’s really a blast. I think it is definitely more MMORPGer in its style and content, and that is intentional, but while it might be more of a “grind”, the insta-kill scenarios are no longer present, which is a good thing, to me. :)

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mygif

I’m glad to see that they’ve re-balanced combat to be a properly terrifying and risky experience. Any long-time D&D player will figure out the proper ways to balance their bonuses, set up their spells, and queue their equipment so that they can wade through any battle safely. It’s part of why in the Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale games, they fudged a whole lot.

I remember being totally frustrated as a DM when my players cleaved through a Pit Fiend faster than I could roll initiative, so anything rules that help to re-establish the appropriate awe are fine by me.

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mygif

I’m playing the 4E module and I have to say that, hands down, it’s way more fun from a combat perspective than any of the 3rd Edition games I’ve played or am playing. I am seriously tempted to bite the bullet and convert my Ptolus campaign to 4E.

According to my DM, we’ll also see easier to run sessions simply because he won’t have to spend five hours planning encounters. That’s a huge win for me — I’m much more about the story and the interaction between my players.

Not to mention the excruciating pain of grapple checks. Rest in peace, 3E.

Of course, it’ll never be 2nd Edition! (hides)

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mygif

The damage isn’t quite as low as it initially appears – and keep in mind that the game moves a lot, lot faster than before.

Looking at the numbers – say, a well-designed fighter vs the biggest dragon in the book – the fighter can be hitting for 70 damage a swing, and will probably land a blow every other round. A party of 5 such fighters would kill the 1,400 hp dragon in 8 rounds, assuming it doesn’t destroy them first. More likely, a well-balanced party would take 15-20 rounds – which, given it is the third biggest entity in the book, sounds perfectly respectable for an epic level fight. I imagine that would take 2-3 hours to play out, and would be an intense and climactic fight the entire way through.

Compared to the current environment, where such a battle would take approximately 2 rounds – but each round would take 2 hours to roll out, unless the dragon happened to roll a 1 on a save and die instantly.

In theory, both combats should take the same amount of real world time. The difference is that in one, each character is constantly acting and using different tactical manuevers each round, while in the other, each character has to wait an hour between turns since everyone is casting intensely complicated spells and taking multiple actions (each potentially involving multiple attacks) at the same time. Yes, I suppose you could call the first more of a ‘grind’… but I’d also call it a hell of a lot more fun.

The idea that the game is designed to snag the ‘MMO crowd’ makes a good soundbite, but seems rather weak in actual practice – do you really think tons of MMO players are going to suddenly dive into tabletop games if they’ve never been interested in doing so before? Unlikely. Oh, plenty of WoW players will certainly be playing 4th Edtion – just like plenty of them now play 3rd Edition, or any manner of other RPGs. I doubt this will change the ratio to any great degree, and I definitely doubt that it is intended to do so – the guiding philosophy, insteading, seems to have been to fix all the problems that cropped up in 3rd Edition. And, yes, some of that philosophy has been behind balancing the game and streamlining mechanics, which I will concede will give a more ‘video-game’ feel – but again, I don’t think that is altogether a bad thing.

That said, they are trying to incorporate more electronic elements into the game (what with the subscription-style DDI system, which gives various features for a monthly payment.) But I think that is more a means of getting with the times than anything else – and given it isn’t required to play the game, I can’t find any real fault in that.

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mygif

I’ll say this: 3rd ed and 3.5 was broken so easily it wasn’t funny, I made a character who used a bow with such lethality that when I was level 11 I killed 2 CR 17s by myself, these were nasty CR 17s too. However I have a serious problem with level 2 mooks walking around with 30+ hp and when I went to rewrite my character in the new edition, while a level 13 translated into a level 17 in the new system(I leveled twice soloing them, and blame the rest of the party for not exploding with XP), I could not one shot a level 5 encounter, of course most of the items I wore don’t even exist in the current books and neither does my class for that matter, even so I grandfathered some of it in and still could not equal the amount of damage output I had before (3 arrows 12d6+12 each, unless I started activating items the I could explode to 8 arrows 14d6+12 each that character could ignore most DR and while being sneak attack style in damage could still deal it to Undead if he had to.)

If the players made it to the Pit Fiend in the first round of initiative you probably didn’t play it right, those things travel with packs of mooks big packs too, it is entirely possible that the PC’s still managed to kill it using ranged, for example that character above also had a +30 hit and would eat a Pit Fiend’s lunch by himself because he also had a +21 initiative modifier and went first but he is a monster, but no melee should strike it. The problem is that most 3.5 monsters required the GM to think, to use properly, unfortunately most GMs place critters out there like they were feeding a meat grinder.

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mygif

D&D for is basically Savage Worlds, but slower, less interesting, and more pointless.

The question is “How many hit points does the third orc from the left, second row, have?”

The only correct answer to this question is “I do not give a shit.”

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mygif

Just from looking at them, I like the mechanics, and from what I’m hearing here, I’d love the mechanics once I played with them. The problem being, none of the content in the book interests me. Admittedly, this may be because I’ve been roleplaying for so long that I’ve tried basic warriors and wizards from all angles and I just want something different concept-wise. I’m sure it makes for good dungeon crawls, but me and my group, sadly, don’t play dungeon crawls — we all got into D&D either for Planescape or Birthright. Once the Big Books of Class Varients, Rituals, Magic Items, etc. hit the market and the character possibilities broaden, I’ll probably give it a second glance. But if they do something like releasing each module as a mini-PHB, expanding the game bit by bit like video game expansions, then I probably won’t have the patience and will just stick with 3.5. I know that 3.5 is easily breakable and you can easily make a character who fears nothing, but that comes with the side benefit that you can make laughably gimped characters whose job is to be more interesting than effective and they’ll still be combat viable.

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mygif

I was going to say a few things about the new edition. About how I’ve never played before, and it all looks fine; how excited I am to play a RPG that doesn’t put the story on rails; etc.
Instead I have to ask, Where the hell are people getting a look at the leaked rulebooks? I pre-ordered the initial three, so I don’t feel bad about taking a look early, but for the love of all thats good I can’t find them anywhere on the ‘net (barring torrent sites). Yet all I read from the sites I visit is how they have seen the books.

So….you wouldn’t want to be a sport and point me to one of those sites eh?

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mygif

Mc’ed, the only RPGs that put the story on rails are ones which the GM either A) sucks, or B) is using a previously established storyline and won’t deviate from it, either way it’s the GMs fault. http://rs.4chan.org/?from=%2Fco%2F good luck.

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mygif

I’m pretty sure they’re creating a game they can transfer to an MMO without changing any of the fundamental core mechanics/algorithms.

That said, D&D has always been kind of “grindy” unless it isn’t; the settings that specifically emphasized roleplaying over dungeon crawling (Ravenloft, Dark Sun — which is so *brutal* that unless your characters like being slaughtered you’ve GOT to focus on the RP, Planescape, Birthright) — have all been discontinued.

My problem is that D&D is no FUN anymore, and hasn’t been for awhile. Maybe it’s something about all the stylized illustrations, maybe it’s the million prestige classes or maybe it’s simply the fact that Wizards of the Coast has released three editions of the game in half the time it took TSR to do four.

If you want a GREAT fantasy RPG that uses the D20 ruleset, pick up the Conan RPG. Something about it… I dunno. Something about it captures the essence of what made D&D great when we were all young, using essentially the same system as 3.5 edition.

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mygif

When I was refering to story rails, I was refering to video games. SPECIFICALLY, MMO’s. I am really tired of those (plus all the immature people. But lets not open THAT can of worms.) but I thank you for the link.

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mygif

I should mention again that I’ve never played any games LIKE D&D. Only electronic video game rpgs. So I’m excited to start.

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mygif

There’s no reason you can’t do heavy RP in DnD. We certainly do.

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mygif

No Iron Golems

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mygif

“No Iron Golems”

Counterpoint: Black Ops Gnomes

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mygif

I’m too old & cranky to put up with a new edition. I’ll stick with my older books. Also kids should pull up their pants and stop listening to that loud rock music…

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malakim2099 said on May 31st, 2008 at 10:46 am

*dances on LurkerWithout’s lawn*

:)

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mygif

I think “grind” in an RPG is up to the GM as much as anything- it happens in MMORPGs because they can’t look at each individual player’s experience, but what I’ve seen of 4e makes it look like they’ve been careful to calculate how many encounters should take you to “X” level, so ideally there shouldn’t be too much need to pad an adventure.

The one thing I’m worried about is that they’ll be sacrificing flexibility for simplicity- they’re cutting back a bit on the options for characters, and I’ll have to see whether this is as versatile as 3.x has been.

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mygif

Remember as always the any decent DM will adjust the game to make it more fun for the group.

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mygif

alan:

There comes the question, though, at what point has the DM made so many adjustment to the rules that it’s just less time and effort to find a different game?

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mygif

Or for the DM to publish what his adjusted version as a new game…

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mygif

The way our group tends to get around the level-up grind in D&D is to either give XP’s based on story markers, level up after a set number of sessions, or to simply let the characters level up once they’ve achieved a certain point of character development within the story. We’ve had a lot of luck with this and a lot of fun; if leveling up isn’t automatically/exclusively dependent on the amount of hack-and-slash in a game, players tend to be a lot more inventive when completing quests and it tends to make for characters who aren’t murdering, thieving sociopaths by default. We did wind up having to re-work 3.5 into something actually playable, though.
We’ll at least pick up the new PHB to see what the new mechanics look like, and if they suck, we’ll go back to what we were doing before.

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mygif

If anything, 4e draws from comic books and action movies far more than previous editions. Concepts like minions, action points, and healing surges are purely cinematic.

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mygif

So far everything that I’ve read suggests that 4th Edition isn’t much like Dungeons & Dragons at all. It feels like the end of an era.

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Chris Russell said on June 1st, 2008 at 10:09 am

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: REAL MEN USE THAC0.

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Andrew W. said on June 1st, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I’m very disappointed in you, MGK. This is on the level of saying superhero comics cause faggotry.

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Charlotte said on June 2nd, 2008 at 7:52 am

Imshan’s all cranky that the new edition seems to lack two-weapon fighting and multiclassing. But he was also up all night scouring the books with a fine tooth comb, so I’ll send him this way to add another three cents worth…

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CandidGamera said on June 2nd, 2008 at 8:51 am

I’m extremely displeased that they decided to include a built-in victory condition. You’re not supposed to “win” D&D.

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mygif

I’ll say this. I’ve played 2e, 3e, and 4e to varying degrees and as the game has evolved from a storytelling device to an RP-intensive game of Warhammer, I’ve noticed that random and confusing and arcane rules on combat are a great way to discourage players from engaging in it.

When the Green Dragon is all spec’d out with specific powers and move speeds, the PC can at least quantify survival rates. When the Green Dragon entry consists of a poem, a handful of crazy abilities, and the subtext “sometimes they’ll just eat you“, players are a lot slower to draw steel and a lot quicker to quick-talk or haul ass out.

As the rules get better, the non-rules-based situations inevitably get worse by comparison. And from the way WotC likes to write out mods, you really would think the game is just an endless series of combat encounters. That said, there’s really very little seperating 2e from 3e and 4e in terms of non-combat content. At least, in my opinion.

I’m extremely displeased that they decided to include a built-in victory condition. You’re not supposed to “win” D&D.

They had people playing the game through level 100. People didn’t know how to end an adventure without a TPK. A quantifiable end game is more a blessing than a curse and I genuinely like the idea of an Epic Destiny that leaves you floating off to Avalon or riding into the sunset or ascending to divinity. I’m just disappointed that they sped up leveling in some attempt to get you to level 30 faster. But maybe this will finally convince someone to put Elminster and Dritz out to pasture already.

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CandidGamera said on June 2nd, 2008 at 2:32 pm

http://candidgamera.livejournal.com/179442.html – My thoughts on the “win condition”, and why it is an unequivocally bad idea.

To specifically rebut – people playing to level 100? If that’s fun for them, fine. People not knowing how to end an adventure without a TPK? Bullshit.

The end game of a campaign should be whatever the GM wants to serve as the capper of his campaign, not some arbitrary divinity quest at a fixed level.

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Charlotte Ashley said on June 2nd, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I thought campaigns ended when your GM gets a girlfriend. 😛

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The Imp said on June 2nd, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Largely pursuant to Charlotte’s post:
The things that strikes me hardest about 4e is the lack of customization available to characters. Firstly, time honoured and classic mechanics (like Two-Weapon Fighting) are all but erased from the system. Out of all the base classes, the Ranger is the only one capable of using two weapons at the same time without the benefit of some circumstantial allowance.

The second customization aspect is multiclassing. The multiclass mechanic in 4e is now some totally alien and abortive thing. Before level ten, one cannot be two classes in equal amounts. In 3.x, one could easily start with a level of fighter, pick up a level of rogue, and then alternate to their heart’s content. No more: the multiclass system in 4e allows only a botched and usually mechanically awful “dip” into another class. There is no gradient in this system, you are either class X, class Y with the multiclass mechanic of class X, class X with the multiclass mechanic of class Y, or Class Y.

The skill system also creates a similar lack of gradient. You either are trained in a skill, or you are not. There is no “amateur” level of interest in, say, lockpicking. You are either a pro, the best lockpicker at your level; or you are utterly incompetent, the worst lockpicker at your level. There is no in-between, no gradient, no room for the person who is merely an amateur or neophyte at a given skill. This makes even less sense from the point of view of knowledge skills. It’s not mechanically possible to know “a little bit about geography”, or “a smattering of religious lore.” You’re either a layman, or you’re an accomplished theologian, which makes little sense.

This would all be well and good if it were not an RPG, but the real point of an RPG rules system (IMO) is to mechanically reflect the vision of the character you wish to roleplay while being at least remotely balanced with other characters and combinations. The second half of this purpose is considered debatable in some circles. However, when you can’t play a wizard who knows how to use both ends of a quarterstaff, and that for some reason everyone in the world capable of holding (and using) two weapons at the same time is also an accomplished hunter of some sort, then there is something wrong with the game mechanics. Similarly, playing a character who knows a little bit about everything is impossible: You know a lot about whichever branch of knowledge you chose with your skills, and *nothing* about the things that your skills did not extend to.

Sadly, from a mechanical perspective, 4e seems to be where character options go to die.

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CandidGamera said on June 2nd, 2008 at 3:29 pm

thought campaigns ended when your GM gets a girlfriend.

If he gets the correct girlfriend, the campaign just gets another player. 😉

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mygif

Firstly, … Two-Weapon Fighting

I’m with you here. I don’t like how they limited crossover between the classes. Warlocks and Wizards now have two unique power trees. Rogues and Fighters now have two unique ways to hack you to death. There really doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason for this. And the multi-classing system seems a bit wonky, with you sacrificing feats just to swap out what is a rather sparse selection of powers to begin with. Admittedly, there’s way more feats in 4e than 3e, so this might not be too tragic. Still, I feel your pain.

That said –
There is no gradient in this system, you are either class X, class Y with the multiclass mechanic of class X, class X with the multiclass mechanic of class Y, or Class Y.

This was actually worse in 3e from a caster perspective. Players with particle spell progression – Rangers, Bards, Paladins, etc – got completely hosed. The offensive options were woefully ineffective at the level you were using them. Turning, for a Paladin, was an absolute joke. Bardic Enchanters couldn’t hold a candle to their Wizard counterparts simply because of how the DC system was set up (higher spells = higher difficulties). On the flip side, fighter classes were incredibly front loaded, especially before the 3.5e update. I saw plenty of people mixing a level of Paladin, Ranger, Fighter, and Rogue to get obscene lists of feats and powers by level 5.

4e multi-classing is significantly toned down. I don’t know if I like it yet, as I haven’t seen it in action. Still, I’m not ready to sell the whole system short until I can see it in the hands of more vetted players.

The skill system also creates a similar lack of gradient.

Again, the skill system is a victim of “do or do not do, there is no try”. You can’t “kinda” pick a lock. It either opens or it doesn’t. You can’t “kinda” leap a gorge. You either make it or fall to your death. Difficulty levels rise as players level, so you probably won’t be seeing the level 1 combination lock when you’re trying to break into the D&D Equivalent of Fort Knox at level 20. The skills have to keep up with the game or they become functionally useless. Letting someone dabble in two skills just gives them two things they can never do successfully.

All that said, check the feat section. I believe there is a “Jack of All Trades” feat that gives you a smaller bonus to a large set of skills. That may help you out.

As for knowledges, my DMs are generally fast and loose with what those cover and I’m generally the same when its my turn to run a game. Knowledge(Nature) and Knowledge(Arcana) usually overlap when identifying your standard winged horse or ten-headed hydra. And Know(History) or Know(Local) can sub in as a middling Bardic Knowledge if the player is from the right part of town. But, again, that’s outside the scope of 4e rules, so its a moot point.

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The Imp said on June 2nd, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Zifnab: I agree with much of what you say.

Mechanical efficacy in multiclassing was not really what I was getting at. I understand that a Fighter3/Wizard3 is going to have abysmal attack spells, and the DCs will suck, but that wouldn’t be why I would play a Fighter/Wizard. I’d play it so I could be a fighter with Shield, or Invisibility, or True Strike; not because I want to be the guy who lobs a fireball while holding a sword for no apparent reason.

I understand that many multiclassing options were downright awful. Wizard/Sorcerer in any combination is the epitome of this impotence, but that it was an option that was available is the salient point. Even awful multiclass combinations should be allowed, even if they are not advisable.

I also understand that many multiclass combinations are overpowered. This doesn’t mean that they should be disallowed, however. If you are in a heavy RP game, and someone has taken a bunch of level dips, they should have an in-character justification for those dips. However, if you’re just playing kick in the door, with no-RP, then there’s no reason to not be able to “build” ridiculous builds. This isn’t a reason to write it out of the rules. It might be a reason for DMs to set out some guidelines on what they want the campaign to be like, however.

As for your criticism on skills, I think that you have missed my point in a way. It is not so much that skills often are pass versus fail. It’s that you cannot “dabble” in skills, regardless of their efficacy. Let’s say I’m playing a wizard who “dabbles” with locks, and other contraptions in his downtime. I put points in Disable Device to reflect this character’s hobby. The fact that it is pointless from a mechanical standpoint for actual challenges is not really what is at issue; that there is no mechanical representation for “dabblers” is.

As for a feat band-aid solution, I’m not interested. From a mechanical standpoint in 3.x, I’d be “wasting” skill points, which aren’t terribly valuable and will have a small in-game impact (well, at least not compared to feats). I have no desire to “waste” feats to duplicate something that should already logically be in the system (If I can be awful at a skill, and I can be good at a skill, surely I can be something in between). Moreover, taking a feat to be a “dabbler” at something (or several things) is fundamentally counterintuitive: Taking a feat should make you *good* at something, not a dabbler, not “sorta-good”. After all, that’s what feats do for other gameplay options.

Further, after I wrote my previous criticism, I found *another* goofy mechanic with skills. At level one, you *must* take skills from a given set of class skills. For a fighter, this means picking three of five skills (and their respective groups). Quick math shows that there are 10 combinations of skills. That’s not a lot of customizability, in my opinion. If I have a fighter who is interested in arcane knowledge for what ever reason, I can’t *actually* take Knowledge(Arcana) (or its associated skills) when I’m a level one character. There is *no* reason for this sort of restriction. It’s silly, and eliminates character options.

What my main problem here is the elimination of options. I understand that there are loopholes and overpowered “builds” and what have you. This isn’t a computer game where there is no authority, however. The DM can always step in and say, “Look, what you’re doing is a little bit busted, we’ll sit down and negotiate a change to better fit your character in the campaign world.” The elimination of character options *does* stifle what can be represented in game, and this *does* create a problem for me. If I want to create a character who uses the quarterstaff to it’s fullest extent martially (that is, uses it as a double weapon) while also using it as a focus for magical power (that’s right, he’s a fighter/wizard with Two-weapon Fighting), I want it to be reasonably represented in the game. In 3.x, I can do that, even if it sucks. In 4e, I’m not even allowed to know it sucks.

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mygif

Ok, to address a few of those points.

Firstly, there’s more feats now, so “wasting” a skill point and “wasting” a feat aren’t as far apart as they once were. There’s also a feat that lets you train an out-of-class skill. So your fighter can blow a feat, take Knowledge (Arcana) and be set to jet. Please note that under the old 3e skill rules there were many skills you just flat out couldn’t take at all. So the Wizard with Decipher Script and the Fighter with Know (Arcana) – by the rules – couldn’t exist.

Secondly, if you’re going to put skill points in a skill you have no intention of ever actually using, what exactly are you asking for? Just say your wizard dabbles in lock picking. You don’t need a number on your character sheet to say he’s a part time mechanic. The character sheet is meant to represent what you are capable of. If you can’t or won’t ever use it, there’s little reason for WotC to codify rules for it. Again, though, check the feats section and there may be something your speed. It’s a shift of style – from buckets of skill points to feats every other level – but it still allows you to create the character you envision.

Finally, I think you need to sit down with the 4e book and really peruse what options you’ve got. Back in 2e we had splat books by the truckload and massive spell and item compendiums to pour through. When 3e came out, it was anemic by comparison. The core feat selection was generally weak. And the prestige classes were new and scary. Eight years later and its a completely different ball game. Your iconic characters may still exist in 4e, but their papered out builds probably won’t be what you’re familiar with.

All that said, 4e did a lot more for the DM than the PC. The way the rules and monsters were overhauled changes play dramatically for the better. BBEGs last longer. Hordes of mischievous kobolds play faster and smarter. Dungeons and traps fall into place better. The game comes together in a much friendlier way. PCs may throw up their hands in disgust. I suspect, however, that veteran DMs will snatch up this system in droves.

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mygif

I haven’t DnD’d since 2nd edition, but from what I’ve read, I’m intreagued by the formalization of the combat systems. I’m very much a tactician in general, so I welcome to opportunity to insert a turn-based strategy game into the middle of my roleplaying.

That said, I’m baffled by some of the people who are so…pissed off… about some of the changes – the “win condition”, for example. Maybe it’s just my group, but the books are there to just give you a guideline of how to make a compelling narative that is fun for everyone. Game says you have to stop playing at level 100? Yeah, how about ‘no.’ You want your warlord to pick up that other sword and spin around in a circle to scare some goblins? What GM is going to say “sorry, the rulebook says you can only have your hands on one weapon at a time.”

It’s an imagination exercise with a tactics mini-game. Lighten up =P

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mygif

Zifnab:

Just because your character gets more feats doesn’t mean that you can’t waste them. There are still good feats and bad feats, and if you take a bad feat, you’ve wasted it. Similarly, if you have a million dollars, spending a hundred dollars on a cheeseburger is still a waste, even if you have money to spare. Further, I don’t see why I should have to spend a feat on things that aren’t terribly extraordinary. Why can’t my fighter simply take points of knowledge(Arcana)? Why do I have to be pigeonholed into stereotypical fighter skills until I spend a feat or gain a level? It’s the stereotyping that bothers me. In 3.5, if I wanted to be a fighter with Knowledge(Arcana), I could be a fighter with Knowledge(Arcana), and the only stipulation was that it would be cross-class.

As for skills I don’t intend on using, I meant something different than what I wrote there. What I really mean is that there is no mechanical representation for someone in the “in between” range of having a skill and not having a skill at the same level. In a discussion I had with someone, I likened it to someone being able to climb a rock face (let’s say DC 20), someone being able to climb a tree (DC 15) but not a mountain, and someone not able to climb a tree. If your character is in the process of learning a skill, or started with a skill but has since stopped advancing in it, 4e fails to mechanically represent that in-between state where you can make DC 15 but not DC 20.

Lastly, I’m not saying that 4e characters have *no* options, I’m merely saying they have less than they did in 3.x. I admit that 3e had a lot of problems, but I do feel as though 3.5 cleaned up well. As for GMs picking up 4e, I know at least one who wont: He simply has too many 3.x books on the shelf. Purely monetary objections aside, he doesn’t like what he’s seen mechanically either.

I have sat down with the 4e book and looked at the feats, and considered the ramifications of taking any of them. Frankly, there are bad feats in there, and if you take a bad feat, it’s a waste, regardless of how many feats you get in how ever many levels. I understand that when 3e came out, there weren’t many options, but there were more than there are in 4e.

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Why can’t my fighter simply take points of knowledge(Arcana)? Why do I have to be pigeonholed into stereotypical fighter skills until I spend a feat or gain a level? It’s the stereotyping that bothers me.

That’s a question you could ask every D&D designer since 1e. I don’t know any D&D system to date that enables or encourages your flat fighter to pick up knowledge Arcana. Why? Probably because wizards have a need for the knowledge. Spell components may require certain bits of arcane beast and the very act of casting a spell requires a certain familiarity with how magical energies function. Fighters don’t need to know that sort of thing so they don’t have much of a basis to expand their learning. The idea that a fighter is going to have the time to sit down in a library and pour over archaic texts with the same commitment and fervor that he trains his martial prowess is a bit of a stretch in the D&D setting. He’s going to have to give up something – a feat’s worth of time and training – to master the learning inherent in taking arcana as a class skill. Otherwise, you’re asking why a plumber can’t just up and learn nuclear chemistry. He can. He’s just going to have to give up a bit of time learning to be a plumber to have anything resembling knowledge of the subject.

Also, in 4e, Knowledge (Arcana) is the basis skill by which you cast arcane rituals. So a fighter with a knowledge (arcana) ranking and the Ritual Caster feat can actually do a little spell casting of his own.

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It’s not a requirement of a good RPG for it to support as many character options as possible. 3E eliminated a lot of the truly pointless restrictions from the game, but in trying to be as flexible it was, it became a bit too complex. They’re trying to make it more straightforward this time and apparently have in the process sacrificed some options. Like I said, I’ll see how that works.

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The Imp said on June 4th, 2008 at 1:50 am

Look, aside from the odd mechanical happenstance, I’m not asking a lot here. Consider a back story where farmer Joe (a fighter) is conscripted into the king’s army. In a bloody campaign, Joe finds nearly his entire brigade obliterated by a mage. Joe, being at least a little wise, wants to know as much as he can about wizards, and the spells they use. He takes points in Knowledge(Arcana).

In 4e, you don’t have that option, whatever your reasons may be. I don’t care that it’s mechanically dubious (like a lot of skills). What if I just don’t want to be a stereotypical fighter who climbs/jumps/rides, and instead does some booklearning on the side? I’m not saying he should be terribly good at it, or that he should be able to cast spells. I don’t think it’s inconceivable that a fighter could know a little bit about magic if he went out of his way to do so. I’m absolutely not saying that he spends *as much* time reading as he does practicing his martial abilities. I’m saying he reads a bit before he goes to sleep each night. Moreover, your plumber example is a bit disingenuous. I’m not saying that I should get a skill for free, spending skill points in Knowledge(Arcana) *necessarily* means I haven’t spent skill points in a more stereotypical skill. That means that Joe the fighter wont be as good at climbing or jumping, or riding.

There is *no* reason why I can’t do this. Yet 4e restricts you from doing so, unless you want to spend a feat, i.e. have to use up a significant portion of your character’s options to have an otherwise fluff ability (which may or may not come up in actual gameplay). The point I’m making is that the costs for some fluff skill are too damn high. If I want to play Joe in a 4e game, I have to spend a feat to have any sort of knowledge whatsoever (i.e. to be trained in it), and worse still, I will be as knowledgable as the wizard who also started with the skill.

Anyway, I’m done with this particular comment section. I just don’t think that characters should be pigeonholed into stereotypical skills unless they spend a feat. Call it personal preference, whatever, your mileage may vary.

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You’ll be as knowledgable if your INT bonus is as high. Which is still not terribly realistic, but again, they’re sacrificing things like this for simplicity.

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Look, aside from the odd mechanical happenstance, I’m not asking a lot here. Consider a back story where farmer Joe (a fighter) is conscripted into the king’s army. In a bloody campaign, Joe finds nearly his entire brigade obliterated by a mage. Joe, being at least a little wise, wants to know as much as he can about wizards, and the spells they use. He takes points in Knowledge(Arcana).

Yes, but you don’t need Knowledge(Arcana) to know about magic. You need it to make checks against things you don’t know. Simple trivia – wizards need spell components to cast spells, denying a wizard verbal or somatic spell components renders him unable to cast, wizards use a spell book and memorize their spells every day while Sorcerors simply know their spells and can cast them at will – is expected to be known or learned without the expenditure of skill points. You don’t need to spend anything to “know” how a spellcaster operates. However, if your DM pulls a beholderkin out of the Monster’s Manual XI, you aren’t expected to know what its powers are or how to combat it unless you have some educational background. That’s where the skill check comes into play.

4e restricts you from letting your character know esoteric facts and details that a martial-based hero would never be expected to learn.

All that said, I’m not personally a big fan of pigeonholing characters and I don’t see anything wrong – on its face – with a fighter knowing magical trivia or a wizard knowing how to pick a lock or a rogue knowing all sorts of wilderness lore. But that’s the nature of the class system we play in. If you don’t like this system, try the GURPS or White Wolf models on for size. They’re much less restrictive to that sort of cross-cultural character creation.

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screwloki said on June 7th, 2008 at 3:45 am

From what I can tell, Imp, you’re pigeonholing your own role in what you want to do by sticking with “I want to be a rawr fighter who can, for some obtuse reason, do this or that”. The bonus feats now aren’t exclusive to the fighter class! Sure their exploits are oriented towards a martial standpoint, but take a gander at the cleric now! No more oh god (pun) I’m stuck being the healer-bot cleric cause nobody else here is one. He’s got just as many feats as the fighter and a pretty hefty helping of melee whompums in his bag. Oh, and he gets that Skill you urinal caked about as a class skill! Thinking outside of the 3.x box seems to take you to the same tavern on a different road in 4e.

Nobody is stopping you from playing 3.x just because 4e is out. If you don’t go to RPGA events or whatnot and only play Homebrew rules and such, do whatever the hell you want! At its core, D&D is ‘do what you want, and here’s how it works’. Just don’t QQ to the world like your opinion makes a difference because you can’t think creatively on how to get what you want. Especially if you do it about a game that is based upon the concept that you have a measure of imagination.

The foundation of an adventuring party and their roles is more obvious now than it was before, if not more important that those characters fill those roles. The wizard is still the boom, the ranger and rogue are still the hurt, the cleric is what it always was, and it’s all less min-max oriented. The powergamers will weep, the casuals will rejoice, and the newbies will not quit halfway through the first combat encounter, or fall asleep holding the dice they borrowed.

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screwloki said on June 7th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Oh and not to mention, you get a feat EVERY OTHER LEVEL. Of all the feat options, you’ll run into a point where there’s no more min/maxing to do with another feat, hey I’ll get trained in a skill I want. There you go, got your Know(Arcana) right there. Sure, it might be better on the min/max train to get trained in some form of physical prowess, but that’s not what Joebob the Farmer wants. His hick ass wants to know about magic.

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I’m not sure they’ve simplified the game that much – reading through the 4E PH as a long time player I was bewildered by the new and confusing terminology, plethora of powers, wierd stats/powers blocks (with a lot more confusing stuff) etc. My group managed quite well within the “confines” of 3.5 and didn’t suffer the lulls in gameplay that seemingly motivated this homogenization of character classes. I also note, as someone who enjoys playing spell casters, that they have completely ruined the wizard and cleric, reducing their spell lists (aka “powers”) to a pathetic subset. They’ve even tampered with magic missile – seems it now requires an attack role (??if that’s wrong, then their explanation is unclear??) Part of the challenge of playing a mage, for example, was making judicious use of your spells. Being strategic. Finding new spells to add to the versatility of your spellbook – which no longer seems possible with set powers per level (rituals are mostly intended for out-of-combat scenarios, and 1 swap-out per level for powers). I was never “bored” because I had no spells left: I simply did not cast spells willy-nilly. I can see myseld getting frustrated at having to use the same old powers again and again, in every combat. The old spell list (300+) for a wizard allowed endless ingenuity – the new powers seem very restricted and aimed at damage or buffing. I thought the old-style conceptualisation of a wizard was authentic – this new uniform class system smacks of pandering to the lowest common denominator (which of course makes sense from a business point of view, so I guess it’s inevitable given’s WoTC’s history).

I have also DM’d under 3/3.5 and never found it to be as onerous as people make out. A party plays to their strengths and weakness – we know what roles we are meant to adopt (by consensus erm…isn’t that obvious?), without this being made explicit. Again, if you have players who are intent on undermining the spirit of the campaign, you simply need to rein them in and house-rule appropriately. Personally, I would have preferred to see a evolution of the 3/3.5 rule-set rather than re-invention. But, of course, that is just my opinion – I’m sure many people will enjoy the new rules (and WoTC will enjoy re-issuing everything under 4E 😉

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My group managed quite well within the “confines” of 3.5 and didn’t suffer the lulls in gameplay that seemingly motivated this homogenization of character classes. I also note, as someone who enjoys playing spell casters, that they have completely ruined the wizard and cleric, reducing their spell lists (aka “powers”) to a pathetic subset.

I think if you count up all the powers available to all the classes, you’ll come out to have about as many as there are spells in the Core 3e book. The only difference is that the wizard / sorc / cleric / druid / bard suffer so that the fighter / paladin / ranger / rogue / warlord may live. There’s no net loss. Casters just aren’t so jam-packed with candy that they make all the other classes look bad.

This is also just the first core book. If you force a wizard to play by core rules, he will look tame compared to the wizard with access to Complete Arcane / Complete Mage / Spell Compendium. The warrior classes are outright gimped in 3.x without splats. The edition is new, but fear not. WotC wants your money. There will be many, many, many more books to come.

I have also DM’d under 3/3.5 and never found it to be as onerous as people make out. A party plays to their strengths and weakness – we know what roles we are meant to adopt (by consensus erm…isn’t that obvious?), without this being made explicit.

I’ve run some half a dozen 3e games and played in a dozen more since the edition was released. There’s nothing crippling about the system. However, it is a victim of feature creep – some of the rules addendums were absolutely vital to gameplay while others broke the game wide open. And at higher levels, when you’ve got multiple spells in a round and armies of cohorts at your beck and call and a dozen magical items and two dozen spells to choose from and combat maneuvers and prestige class features… it all gets somewhat intimidating. If you haven’t walked into a fight with a Beholder and played out every round by the hour, you probably didn’t play it right. Those fights should be intense. But the way the game is set up, the life of a player will often hinge on each roll, with failure resulting in instant petrification, disintegration, or death. The only defense is a myriad of buffs offering miss chances and SR and second saves and rerolls that turn a single attack roll into an ordeal involving half a dozen d20 rolls to resolve.

I haven’t gotten to know 4e yet. Its very possible that 3e is ultimately the superior system. Or maybe we’re all off base and should go play GURPS or WW. But there were some very obvious problems with the 3e system and 4e makes a very deliberate attempt to solve them. I won’t begrudge WotC for that.

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