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Aramir21
2009-12-19, 06:42 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-12-19, 06:44 PM
You'll have to play with an actual group to know what it's like. And groups often differ greatly in playstyle.

The Glyphstone
2009-12-19, 06:48 PM
My personal take, based on my experiences in a group.

1. Like every edition, it depends on the DM. 4E has less mechanical support for non-combat related stuff in terms of powers and abilities, but it's not devoid of them, and a good DM can always make up for this.
2. The system assumes you have miniatures, and the rules are written around it. You can play with pretty much anything - coins, stones, Monopoly pieces, whatever - but 4E does default to the idea that you have a grid and pieces, since ranges are measured in squares and whatnot. Again, a good DM/practiced players can work around this.
3. I've only played halfway through a published module so far (Troll Warrens), and the only 'houserule' put into place was the cinematic bypassing of several very easy fights that would have just been an hour of us rolling dice against a bunch of weak enemies who couldn't hurt us. But we did that in 3.5 too.

Sinfire Titan
2009-12-19, 06:48 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?

Somewhat. This actually varies from DM to DM. 4E's rules, however, are very combat-oriented; very few of the abilities in the PH1 are non-combat ones (and screw rituals).


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?

Small dice and graphing paper will suffice. Minis and Dungeon Tiles are easier to keep track of though (due to physical differences).


3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

The main issues with 4E's rules are the encounters, the suckitude of Rituals/Alchemy, how borked Skill Challenges are, and stale flavor between classes.

My personal gripe is the lack of a coherent, GP-based WBL chart. It would make my job as DM much easier than the treasure parcels.

Aron Times
2009-12-19, 06:49 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
Combat takes longer in terms of rounds but is faster to resolve. The end result is that on average, it takes the same amount of time to finish a fight in 3.5 and in 4e. As for the story, this is something you get from a good DM, and is not dependent on the system you are using. A good DM using any system, be it the World of Darkness or D&D, can craft a great story that will be remembered for years to come.

If you want some freebies, Wizards posted the rules for levels 1 to 3 for free on their website, including the first adventure released for the game. Click on the link in my signature to download them.

And finally, before houseruling anything, play the game strictly by the RAW (rules as written) before changing anything. To think outside the box, you must first learn to think within it. Almost everything has changed, and you should play 4e as an entirely different game from 3.5.

Yuki Akuma
2009-12-19, 06:50 PM
...Why do you need to switch?

I play, like, six different games. Two of them are different editions of D&D. What's the problem with playing both?

Aron Times
2009-12-19, 06:53 PM
The main issues with 4E's rules are the encounters, the suckitude of Rituals/Alchemy, how borked Skill Challenges are, and stale flavor between classes.

My personal gripe is the lack of a coherent, GP-based WBL chart. It would make my job as DM much easier than the treasure parcels.
I disagree with all of the above except for Alchemy, which really sucks.

Let's not turn this into a 4e bashing thread please.

Thajocoth
2009-12-19, 06:53 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

1 - Absolutely

2 - I find it difficult to play anything without minis, so I'm a poor judge, but some people have said that it can be played fine without them. I just use Sorry, Monopoly and Clue pieces, really... You just need to denote who's where, not what they look like.

3 - We don't really bother with weight load unless somebody's being ridiculous. And all arrows are reusable. And exact denominations of money don't matter... And we round off coppers and silvers... Basically, we just reduce all the boring upkeep stuff to save time in my groups.

Draz74
2009-12-19, 06:55 PM
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
Yes, if the DM is good enough.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?

Miniatures are a necessity. However, homemade/virtual (http://rptools.net/) miniatures work just fine, so you don't have to spend lots of money on them.

Mushroom Ninja
2009-12-19, 07:16 PM
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

1. Yes.

2. Grid paper and coins/dice work

3. Many skill challenges are a little clunky-feeling. Either ignore them or use them with caution.

Decoy Lockbox
2009-12-19, 07:24 PM
If you are looking for a world-building system, or a system that caters to realism, then you don't want 4e. If you want to play a fantasy role-playing game with tactical grid-based combat, then 4e is definately what you are looking for. I happen to be a huge fan of that, so its a great system for me.

In terms of houserules, I have lots of them, but thats primarily because I am running a post-apocalyptic, no-wealth campaign. Due to the lack of money, I changed rituals to a daily point-based system, so that players could cast a few rituals a day, but not too many. I also banned rituals which undermined the survival themes in my campaign (create food, raise dead, etc).

Back in our AD&D days, my group used bottlecaps (with directional arrows to indicate facing) instead of minis due to our poverty. I see no reason that this couldn't be done with 4e. We currently use a motley mix of 40k and hero quest minis, with some random pewter ones thrown in for good measure.

Asbestos
2009-12-19, 07:29 PM
My personal gripe is the lack of a coherent, GP-based WBL chart. It would make my job as DM much easier than the treasure parcels.

I actually find treasure parcels pretty coherent and easy to deal with. "Give them a Level 5 item" Ok, I can do that. "Give them some assortment of stuff that adds up to 20,000gp." Less helpful.

jmbrown
2009-12-19, 08:05 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.


1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?

Yes. Understand first that 4E doesn't apply mechanics to anything that's not directly combat related. There are no profession or craft skills nor detailed lists of provisions like the cost for a barrel of pickled fish and a pound of pepper. This doesn't mean you can't be an artist or the world's greatest fisherman, it just means you actually have to roleplay your character quirks and toss a few dice to please whatever magic target number the DM might come up with.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?

4E relies heavily on a map especially when you're dealing with controllers. Do you need miniatures? Absolutely not. A simple cloth map or large graph paper and a handful of counters (coins, beads, strips of paper, etc.) are all you need.


3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

You want to do something that's not covered by the mechanics like swinging on a chandelier? Roll d20, add your relevant ability score mod plus half your level. If you want to roleplay a non-combat related skill your character might have (like book binding or culinary artist) then ask your DM if you can have a +5 bonus which represents training.

I use alternate starvation rules (3 days for food, 1 day for water) because by the normal rules a level 1 character can survive without water for 30+ days while higher level characters actually die faster.

Other than those two things, there aren't many mechanics in 4E that stand out as particularly annoying in relation to how the game works. You should know right from the bat that you don't have to participate in skill challenges but your DM should also provide opportunities to test everyone's strong skills so you don't have the "depend on the skill monkey" scenario where one character rolls everything while the rest of the party stands to the side twiddling their thumbs.

Shardan
2009-12-19, 08:12 PM
Buying miniatures aren't necessary. I have a blank grid map, plastic sheet, and whiteboard markers. total cost like $15. you can print and cut picture cut outs, use old miniatures or game pieces of different kinds or cobble it together any way you want to.

and like any game system, the players and the DM make the game. the skill challenges are a little clumsy, but every skill system has had its problems. Use them smartly and theres no problem. Skill challenge every act and people will hate it. for the treasure parcels, they make more sense than the old 'roll for treasure type f' ok the Kobold is carrying a painting, a potion of dragon breath, and plate mail. the DM is free to break up the 'treasure parcels' how he chooses. he doesn't even have to give them as 'battle treasure'.

'The old knight looks at you, barely able to raise his head. "take my sword.. it now falls to you right these wrongs and retrieve the crown"

Ozreth
2009-12-19, 08:29 PM
Here is great list compiled by some friends on another web site detailing some of the biggest changes/benefits of 4e, it certainly helped me decide to make the switch:

1. Cone and Burst templates replaced with easy to follow Burst and Blast squares which do the same thing but do not require memorizing the square pattern or having a template, such as the ones by steel squire. No more groans from Entangle being cast. Wire coat hangers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief.

2. Skill system was redesigned so similar skills were combined into groups, eliminating the need for skill synergy as synergistic activities are now part of the same skill.

3. Skill point system replaced with / untrained / trained / skill focus setup. Generally in this game and 3e what happens is players will max out certain skills and just continually put a point into it each level to keep it maxed. Now this simply happens automatically as training and skill focus are flat bonuses that can be given to skills and all characters get a half their level as a bonus to skill checks.

4. Large Base Attack Bonus, Fort, Reflex, Will tables replaced with static bonuses at level 1 based on class and defenses increase by 1 every other level (IE: Half level). I'm never going to forget what a pain it was leveling up my Fighter/Wizard/Spellsword at level 10 having to references three different charts.

5. Game is stable and consistent through levels 1-30, where as 3rd has a "sweet spot" of 5-12. Before level 5 characters are rather weak, after level 12 the game breaks down.

6. Vancian spell casting is gone. Spells now use a unified easy to understand implementation that is shared by all powers regardless of the power source while still keeping their flavor due to the properties available to the powers themselves. Fireballs still explode and require good reflex to avoid and roast your party members if you're not careful, while divine casters often need not worry about this as their offensive prayers usually only hurt enemies, but they tend to have less offense in comparison. Martial characters still primarily deal in AC. Players do not need to learn whole new systems to understand spell casters or psionic characters.

7. Powers system allows for all classes to shine in their own way and emulate the feats of heroism that players are accustomed to in legends, stories, books, movies, and yes, sometimes video games. Large number of powers to choose from allows characters to make their character different from others of the same class by the selections they make. Power selections also allow martial characters to differentiate themselves from other martial characters more so than in previous editions, where before only spell-casters got that kind attention. Rogues in combat are no longer just a defined by their sneak attack, but their ability to blind, cripple, slip through defenses, etc.

8. Races strengthened and made more unique. Races are more important throughout a character's career thanks to more feats and class options related to race. Had side effect of no longer requiring ECL for a large number of classic D&D races.

9. Combat rules streamlined and unneeded complexity removed from key areas.

10. Roles for Monsters and Character Classes make it easier for the DM or Players to narrow down their search for what they want to play or what monsters to include and careful choose which entries they want to read fully.

11. 3rd edition followed a "battle of attrition" model of balance, where upon players would face a large number of easy challenges that would expend their resources and player's mistakes would come out most of all in later encounters where resources they spent in the beginning encounters cause their downfall. This lead to the "30 minute day" where players would get up, fight something huge, then goto bed. (The length of time it takes to run encounters encouraged this as well.) This lead to DM's frequently having to pump things up for the one big fight to work correctly. 4th edition centers more upon each encounter being dangerous and less on attrition between encounters, encouraging parties to continue adventuring.

12. Encounters are now easier to create. Monster types make it easy for DM's to get ideas how a group of monsters interact with each other, avoiding game-breaking combinations. The effects of traps in an encounter with monsters are now easier to determine. As a result, traps are more often parts of combats rather than "That thing that happens between combats".

13. Skill challenges provide a framework for DM's to visualize and create a variety of non-combat based encounters. (Previously you just kind of winged it.) Skill challenge system is flexible and abstract so it is not confining.

14. DC's and Damage table in DM makes it easier for DMs to calculate original or unexpected things, such as terrain not thought as such being used as a weapon

15. Fantastic terrain added

16. Disease system is more robust, with variable effects dependant on the stage of the disease on the affected character.

17. Sizes of creatures adjusted and consolidated. No more piles of tiny sizes most people don't remember and no more colossal size that filled up most people's game mats. Have you seen that Colossal Red Dragon mini in person? It's huge. It's a statue, not a mini.

18. Classes always gain something each level. No "dead levels".

19. Epic levels (21-30) no long require a separate system to use and are part of the core game. Note that Level's 13-30 in 3rd are past the sweet spot of 5-12 and game mechanics break down in those levels.

20. Epic destinies get players to think about how they want to exit the game when it's over. Epic destinies have many important world-changing events in them which can spur on future campaigns.

21. Paragon Paths are easier to use than Prestige Classes and serve the purpose of specializing a character better than prestige classes

22. System is written from the ground up to accommodate future books and expansion without breaking the core system.

23. Weapon groups with their feats and the magic items eligible for those groups allows for lots of flavor to be tied to a weapon type, with the added benefit that newly created weapons do not need new rules added to use these feats / magic items

24. Encounters are generally based upon groups of monsters opposed to 3rd ed being largely based on "The one big thing". This makes movement and tactics more important, making combat more interesting. 4th edition however can still easily do "the one big thing" very well, where as third has lots of difficulty with groups of monsters, especially if you're talking about more than a pair of the same monster.

25. Monster stat blocks are easier to read and are written with running them at the table in mind. Running monsters is vastly easier as a result.

26. Death and dying rules allow for the character's health to be taken into effect (Death at -Bloodied instead of -10), while at the same time making it so the dying state is more dramatic, yet simpler to manager. The three failed death saves per encounter and you're dead is simpler and more effective than the -1 hit point or 10% stabilization a round. The unneeded 0 hit point condition of disabled has been removed.

27. Magic item slots consolidated. With three primary slots, weapon, armor, and neck, and the rest being supplemental. Stat boosters items that were required for progression removed.

28. Encumbrance rules simplified. No more un-wieldy chart that just gets ignored.

29. Rest and recovery simplified. No more need to play the cleric-rest healing game

30. Swimming and flying simplified and made easier to understand and run creatures with those abilities or adventures in those settings.

31. Frustrating grapple rules eliminated. Monsters that were grapple-centric now have abilities to represent this, making them simpler to run while keeping their flavor.

32. Healing surges take much of the need to manage healing resources off of the cleric. Healing surges encourage the encounter-centric game balance and de-emphasize attrition-based challenges.

Ozreth
2009-12-19, 08:35 PM
something that I am trying to figure out is why people say you HAVE to end your game at lvl 30 no matter what in 4e?

Dixieboy
2009-12-19, 08:39 PM
something that I am trying to figure out is why people say you HAVE to end your game at lvl 30 no matter what in 4e?

There's not really anything left to do.

You're basically a god at that point.

Yuki Akuma
2009-12-19, 08:41 PM
something that I am trying to figure out is why people say you HAVE to end your game at lvl 30 no matter what in 4e?

Well that's what the books say you have to do, so...

You reach level 30 and then get one last quest in which you all fulfill your epic destiny and... well. You're not exactly playable after that.

Ozreth
2009-12-19, 08:42 PM
And how did this differ in 3.5, Ive never made it to level 20 in a 3.5 game ha.

Kylarra
2009-12-19, 08:42 PM
something that I am trying to figure out is why people say you HAVE to end your game at lvl 30 no matter what in 4e?
In addition to the stuff said above, there's also no supporting material for anything past 30, so while you could homebrew things, there's no official stuff.


And how did this differ in 3.5, Ive never made it to level 20 in a 3.5 game ha.
3.5 has an "epic" progression for things past level 20. 4e has no progression past level 30.

Tequila Sunrise
2009-12-19, 08:43 PM
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
4e delivers the best hack n' slash I've ever played. Only a good DM can deliver a good story.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
Like others have said, 4e does assume you've got a grid and minis of some sort. I've heard that some people play without, but I wouldn't want to. (I have trouble visualizing positioning and dimensions.)


3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?
I haven't had any major rule issues. I'm trying to think of minor issues I've had...I once pitted my players against a Mummy Lord, which became such a looong fight. Partly it was because the mummy had regeneration and partly because my players aren't incredibly organized. I ended up ignoring the fact that he could have healed himself, because the fight had already gone on long enough. Lesson learned: never use monsters with access to healing surges.

Other than that, I use a few house rules to make the game more how I like it, but that's just because I'm a tinker by nature. (I wrote dozens upon dozens of house rules for 3e.) Some of my house rules include using a hex map instead of square (barely a house rule) and giving extra level-up bonuses so that my players don't need magical bling or feat taxes.


My personal gripe is the lack of a coherent, GP-based WBL chart. It would make my job as DM much easier than the treasure parcels.
Not to be snarky, but couldn't you just add up the value of expected parcels at each level?

Yuki Akuma
2009-12-19, 08:43 PM
And how did this differ in 3.5, Ive never made it to level 20 in a 3.5 game ha.

In third edition they gave you rules for advancing to any arbitrarily high level you damn well pleased.

Those rules sucked, but they still tried.

(I guess they learned their lesson and set a level cap in fourth edition.)

CarpeGuitarrem
2009-12-19, 09:18 PM
Here's something interesting I randomly picked up:

http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/2009/12/fluid-4e-gridless-combat/

It's not necessarily gamebreaker-proof, but for someone who enjoys hack-and-slash, and not necessarily using a grid, you might like it.

Mark Hall
2009-12-19, 09:19 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?

Yes, to the degree that any game can. I find that our sessions tend to involve a lot of long combat, but that's for a couple of reasons:

a) Our group likes to fight.
b) Any given fight takes a while. On Wednesday, we had one combat, where we actually outnumbered the enemy (6 PCs v. 1 Foulspawn Sorcerer, 2 Foulspawn meatshields, and a Mindflayer) and the combat took 5 hours or so.

Thus, while there's no systemic problem with lots of story (that 3.x and other systems don't have), combats will expand to fill the time allotted.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?

If you don't have miniatures, I would suggest at least some sort of battlemat... with time and patience, you can make a posterboard covered with 1" squares that will do the job. Once you have the battlemat, you can do all sorts of things for minatures... coins, dice, Lego men, etc. ... but the battle mat is, IMO, pretty necessary for the powers you're given.


3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

I haven't noticed any particular problem with the rules, aside from the usual "I can make an unlikely character who can kill everything."

ex cathedra
2009-12-19, 09:36 PM
Combat positioning is much more integral to the system than it was in 3.5. You don't have to use miniatures, but some way of keeping up with location is necessary. 4e doesn't work well with miniature-less combat.

As a whole, the system is... eh. Not my cup of tea. It's supposedly slightly easier on DMs, but character creation is depressingly limited when compared to 3.5.

Zeta Kai
2009-12-19, 09:46 PM
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliver on both?

It depends on the DM, but 4E gears toward H&S. You can do story with it (hey, you can do a story with chess, if you want), but the rules don't particularly facilitate story-telling well. They don't get in the way when combat starts, but all non-combat rules are designed to get you back into combat as quickly as possible. If this gets in the way of your plot, then see below.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?

Miniatures are absolutely integral to playing 4E, by design. I can say with full confidence that anyone saying that it's easy to play without a grid is off their rocker. The game's dependence on miniatures is based off WotC's experience with 3E: the Miniature's Handbook was their most profitable product. It$ not hard to $ee that tho$e profit$ influen¢ed their de$ign de¢i$ion.

A cheap way to get around this is to do what the Giant himself did in 3E: make paper cutout minis, & use a dry-erase board as a grid. Apparently, even stick figures will work! :smallbiggrin:


3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

It's widely agreed that skill challenges are inherently broken, & although WotC has tried over 4 times to fix the math, they still don't work right, & should be ignored as a decent idea that is unworkable to implement. If you feel compelled to use them, they will mess up your game, no matter if you use the KotSF version, the PHB version, the errata version, or the... well, you get the point.

Also, rituals are pointlessly inefficient, & could stand to be replaced with something effective. Do a cost/benefit analysis, & boost 'em accordingly.

The classes are all rather same-y, to the point that many powers are re-fluffed versions of each other. And the pre-release marketing team must have been talking about some other game, because half the stuff they said about 4E either isn't true or is the complete opposite of how things work in play. Not much can be done about any of this, but it's something to be aware of going in.

My main problem is that the game just doesn't simulate everyday reality with any degree of fidelity or consistency. It's an interesting combat engine, with little mechanical framework outside of fights to hang a world upon. When the rules got in my way in 3E, I'd analyze what didn't work, what could work better, & how that would affect the rest of the ruleset. With 4E, I find that the game balance is so prominent, & yet so fragile, that I don't feel comfortable changing rules on a permanent basis. I just drop the rules at the first sign of trouble, & pick them up again when it looks safe. Out of combat, my 4E games resemble a free-form RPG, with no rules beyond fiat. :smallsigh:

Duos Greanleef
2009-12-19, 09:58 PM
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
Yes, and in spades! (if that's what you want) Good RP is up to the individual be it PC or DM. It definitely makes room for hack 'n' slashers too though.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
I'm ADDICTED to WotC miniatures. The only problem that I have with them is that I don't have enough money to buy more. I've heard of all sorts of solutions for getting around them though. Graph paper and pencils would probably work just fine to be realistic.


3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?
Some of my PCs (and sometimes myself) feel that it takes to long to get to the next level. The solution that we came up with was an agreement that I would give them considerably tougher encounters (The party's level +1 through +4 or 5) and cut the amount of XP required to hit the next level to 75% of that given total.

All this being said, I'm glad you're making the switch! I think you'll enjoy it tremendously. I made the switch to 4E like nothing ever happened and I love it to PIECES! I may not move to 5E (assuming there will be a 5E because we know there will be one) because I like this so much.
But that is for the future to decide.:smalltongue:

Tequila Sunrise
2009-12-19, 10:55 PM
Yeah, I haven't yet discovered how skill challenges are supposed to be as awesome as some people think they could be. For most skill situations I do it the old fashioned way: role play first, and maybe call for a roll if the scene could go either way.

The only situations I've used skill challenges for are things like "sneak through the inner city without being caught by royal guards" or "smash the room full of gestating demon eggs without disturbing the alarm trap." I also use my own simplified DC/success/failure method, because the official ones are needlessly weird.


Some of my PCs (and sometimes myself) feel that it takes to long to get to the next level. The solution that we came up with was an agreement that I would give them considerably tougher encounters (The party's level +1 through +4 or 5) and cut the amount of XP required to hit the next level to 75% of that given total.
Heck, I don't even give XP -- I just tell my players to level up every couple of fights. I'll slow the pace down once we hit 11th level, but I and some of my players are tired of the first ten levels so we want to get through them fast.

4e doesn't use XP for anything but leveling, so there are zero repercussions of simply ignoring it for DMs like me.

Moff Chumley
2009-12-19, 11:24 PM
Just want to pipe in: 4e combat feels great. Me group uses a $10 dry-erase mat and chess pieces. :smallcool:

Horatio@Bridge
2009-12-20, 12:29 AM
To provide a different voice regarding skill challenges, I've found them to be revolutionary in my gaming experience. The concept is so good that I've even imported it into my Exalted and nWoD games. It brings a coherent framework to non-combat encounters to evaluate success or failure. I would say that my best gaming moments in the last 4 months have been skill challenges.

That said, I have based my implementation of the skill challenge system on the excellent series of articles by Mike Mearls in Dungeon magazine (though a lot of those articles were incorporated into the DMG II). It takes a bit of thinking, and some good examples (of which I'll admit there are few currently published), to really grok the concept, but once you do they'll completely change how you handle non-combat encounters.

Seriously, my handling of non-combat encounters (which most people here have said suck in 4e) has vastly improved since 4e came out, and it's mostly because of the idea of skill challenges. The reason is that skill challenges provide a structure for out of combat encounters. Now, I have a way to evaluate what happens when the players try to negotiate with the goblin leader, and what's more all the players participate in the negotiation! The great thing is that the core ideas translate into any other game quite easily, and in fact the opening encounter of my new Exalted game is going to be a skill challenge structured similarly to what is presented in 4e.

So, if you're questioning whether 4e is the game for you, and the out of combat system is a deciding factor, here is one voice who says that non-combat encounters are actually better in 4e than they were in 3rd.

Ozreth
2009-12-20, 02:08 AM
To provide a different voice regarding skill challenges, I've found them to be revolutionary in my gaming experience. The concept is so good that I've even imported it into my Exalted and nWoD games. It brings a coherent framework to non-combat encounters to evaluate success or failure. I would say that my best gaming moments in the last 4 months have been skill challenges.

That said, I have based my implementation of the skill challenge system on the excellent series of articles by Mike Mearls in Dungeon magazine (though a lot of those articles were incorporated into the DMG II). It takes a bit of thinking, and some good examples (of which I'll admit there are few currently published), to really grok the concept, but once you do they'll completely change how you handle non-combat encounters.

Seriously, my handling of non-combat encounters (which most people here have said suck in 4e) has vastly improved since 4e came out, and it's mostly because of the idea of skill challenges. The reason is that skill challenges provide a structure for out of combat encounters. Now, I have a way to evaluate what happens when the players try to negotiate with the goblin leader, and what's more all the players participate in the negotiation! The great thing is that the core ideas translate into any other game quite easily, and in fact the opening encounter of my new Exalted game is going to be a skill challenge structured similarly to what is presented in 4e.

So, if you're questioning whether 4e is the game for you, and the out of combat system is a deciding factor, here is one voice who says that non-combat encounters are actually better in 4e than they were in 3rd.

couldnt you just do diplomacy and/or bluff checks to negotiate with him?

Mark Hall
2009-12-20, 02:14 AM
couldnt you just do diplomacy and/or bluff checks to negotiate with him?

The idea of skill challenges is that there is a specific goal for those diplomacy or bluff checks... not just "I made a bluff check, he believes us" but needing to make several checks in order to accomplish a non-combat goal.

Optimystik
2009-12-20, 02:18 AM
I don't know much about 4e, so I have to echo Ozreth's sentiment. Couldn't you just set a Sense Motive DC for the NPC and have the PC try to Bluff or Diplomacy past it? What's the difference between that and a "skill challenge?"

I'm in no way trying to disparage 4e or any other edition; I'm merely trying to understand the difference. :smallsmile:

Haven
2009-12-20, 02:21 AM
Horatio@Bridge, do you think you could give us some examples or more in-depth info? My personal experience with skill challenges is that they're unintuitive and poorly integrated, though that may just be the DMs who used them; the opinions I've seen online have been along those lines as well. So I'd like to hear how you've made them a success, it sounds like the advice would be useful.

YvizztX23
2009-12-20, 02:28 AM
I was first introduced to D&D through 4e, but have since broadened out into a few other editions as well, meaning I'm both unbiased AND knowledgeable (not to mention overly self-righteous).

Anyway, here are my answers:

1: It all depends on the DM. 4e is a bit less supportive of non-combat, but a good DM can work around this easily. If your DM is putting too much of either combat or roleplaying into your game, then complain about it.

2: You have two options here: you can either use something else as minis
(Legos work very well) or you can take out most of the combat rules and just leave moving and attacking/using powers and play without minis.

3: One of the best things about D&D is the ease of modification. Unlike a video game, where you need a working knowledge or programming and access to the games code if you want to change something, all you need is time and competent mastery of the rules if you need to change anything. I would reccomend messing with the alignment system right off the bat.

Blas_de_Lezo
2009-12-20, 03:41 AM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

1.
PRO: Yes indeed. 4e is totally designed for combat. Combat is funny and full of options.
CON: combat is way too longer than in 3e. Also, sometimes you'll have the feeling that you're playing a videogame.
2. 4e totally needs square-tiles combat. But there's no need in spending further money. You just can draw the scenario and use another cheap stuff to represent your OC.
3. We didn't had any big problem. Our DM is radiant with 4e because he says that controlling monsters is NOW satisfying.

oxybe
2009-12-20, 04:38 AM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

1) yes. the only non-combat stuff missing from 4th ed is the "i win" spells that you cast in 6 seconds and NPC Bob is suddenly your best friend/thrall or that allows you to quickly bypass most hazards. most spells that could be used for a quick advantage in combat are generally powers. generally non-combat spells are rituals, which are longer to cast but generally allow a wider array of effects.

2) do you have a printer? do you have ink? do you have paper? if so you meet the 3 requirements for all the free minis you ever want.


download the java token maker from my sig
find a picture of the monster you want (google or the SRD works)
click & drag picture into the token maker
zoom/move it to get a mugshot
adjust size as needed (64 = medium, 32 =small, 128= large)
save
open your image manipulate program (something like photoshop or the free GIMP)
create a 8.5x11 sheet
copy/paste the tokens into it
print


voila! tokens.

don't have a mat? go on the graph paper link in my sig and...

Squares
Graph paper
1 lines per inch
choose the color black
save & print


woo hoo, free battle mat!

3) our only real houserule is when rolling an AoE attack, you can choose to roll once for all targets or each target individually.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2009-12-20, 04:53 AM
My personal gripe is the lack of a coherent, GP-based WBL chart. It would make my job as DM much easier than the treasure parcels.The DMG (pg. 143) suggests giving players starting at level X one magic item at X+1, one at X, one at X-1, and gold to buy other magics equal to the value of a magic item at X-1. You can then simply refer to the magic item price chart (PHB pg. 223) and calculate the 3e-style WBL pretty easily.

When I play 4e and start above level 1 we usually houserule that you can spend your implied WBL how you like, but there's something to be said for the simplicity of the explicit system.

Decoy Lockbox
2009-12-20, 05:05 AM
Just want to pipe in: 4e combat feels great. Me group uses a $10 dry-erase mat and chess pieces. :smallcool:

Now I really want to start using a white knight as the mini for my paladin.

Leolo
2009-12-20, 06:30 AM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?


You should try it at least, because it is a great system and improves 3.5.
It is important that you don't forget the fun with other games that you probably had have, of course.



1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?


Yes, but the real improvement of the game is how it fits together. In 3.5 there is some point where you play two games. One combat simulation, and one narrative game. Often i had the experience that i was even playing 2 characters in this different games. You could see it if you would compare Roy in 3.5 and 4E. In 3.5 he is cunning and tactical in the out of combat situations, and the guy who hits someone with a stick in combat situations. His actions do not picture his character, without speech balloons no one could see the difference to the next fighter or even ranger or rogue (other than "i add Xd6 to my damage if i flank").

In 4E he could be the guy who is cunning and tactical during his whole game. His actions may show his character.

Also, skill challenges can be a great improvement to your story. Because of they tell one sentence: Non combat situations may be as exciting than combat situations. In 4E they provide even the same kind of rewards, so that you are able to bring your character from lvl 1 to 30 without hitting a single monster. You are a lvl 10 Wizard, whose experience comes from studying old riddles, developing dangerous spells and protecting a lords castle with your abjurations? That's not a real adventurers life, but it represents things that could give you experience without a single houserule or optional rule in 4E. But possible skill challenges.

It is also easier for the DM to tell some kind of stories, because of you do not have to carry about something that a monster can do - your players are following different rules.



2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?


I play completly without miniatures, battlegrid and visual representation of the positioning. In substance because of it raises the feeling of a combat, including the fact that you do not have absolute knowledge of the positioning of your foes and allies in an actual combat.

Thats an extreme position, and as have been said before you should use non expensive positioning representations. But: From my point of view some changes from 3.5 to 4E make it easier to play 4E without such a representation.

The movement rules and rules for area effects and rules for opportunity attacks are simplified, and because of there is no full attack anymore it is less important if you are 5ft next to a foe or 15ft. You will move more often, and the current positioning can be hold vague.



3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?


I do not like the non permanent effects, and the lack of rules for long term injuries. There are good houserules for this, and i am using it.

Kurald Galain
2009-12-20, 06:44 AM
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
Hack and slash, definitely. Over 90% of the rules are about hacking and slashing. Story depends on your DM, of course. The "core" books don't offer much in the way of storylines, but the settings books do.



2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
Miniatures are absolutely necessary, because many powers don't make sense without a grid. That said, if you don't want to spend money on them, you can easily use lego pieces, coins, monopoly tokens, or whatever.



3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?
The two major problems with the rules are skill challenges and rituals. SCs are an abysmal system that encourages metagaming, breaks immersion, and makes for tedious non-combat encounters. Essentially, the rules encourage maximizing a single skill and using that over and over again regardless of what the situation is. The simple solution for this is not to use SCs at all, but use regular skill checks like every other system does.

Rituals are a good concept with poor execution, in that most rituals simply don't do anything useful. This is best remedied by either ignoring them, or playing them per the fluff text (since most of them have fluff that promises something cool, and crunch that doesn't actually do that).

Artanis
2009-12-20, 12:39 PM
couldnt you just do diplomacy and/or bluff checks to negotiate with him?

Of course you can. There's nothing stopping you from using that method. However, Skill Challenges means you can ALSO do that sort of thing in a more in-depth manner if you so choose.

Aron Times
2009-12-20, 01:32 PM
Now I really want to start using a white knight as the mini for my paladin.
And I want to use a Black King as my psion. All hail Lelouch!

Sinfire Titan
2009-12-20, 03:34 PM
The DMG (pg. 143) suggests giving players starting at level X one magic item at X+1, one at X, one at X-1, and gold to buy other magics equal to the value of a magic item at X-1. You can then simply refer to the magic item price chart (PHB pg. 223) and calculate the 3e-style WBL pretty easily.

When I play 4e and start above level 1 we usually houserule that you can spend your implied WBL how you like, but there's something to be said for the simplicity of the explicit system.

I know that. But that leaves no room for the minor utility items (like a Foestone or other useful AdvV items). It also says 3-5 potions of their Tier. The reason I'd rather have a chart is because I'm lazy and like telling my players "Here's Xgp and you're in Sigil. Gear up for the next arc."

Artanis
2009-12-20, 03:42 PM
I know that. But that leaves no room for the minor utility items (like a Foestone or other useful AdvV items). It also says 3-5 potions of their Tier. The reason I'd rather have a chart is because I'm lazy and like telling my players "Here's Xgp and you're in Sigil. Gear up for the next arc."

Minor utility items and potions and such are (presumably) included in the "gp equal to an item of level X-1".

If you just want to give them some Ye Olde Magic Shoppe cash for the next arc, just give them the rest of the parcels for the level they're on. Convert any remaining magic item parcels into cash if you want. It's two minutes of work. Three, tops.

tcrudisi
2009-12-20, 03:43 PM
To provide a different voice regarding skill challenges, I've found them to be revolutionary in my gaming experience. The concept is so good that I've even imported it into my Exalted and nWoD games. It brings a coherent framework to non-combat encounters to evaluate success or failure. I would say that my best gaming moments in the last 4 months have been skill challenges.

Followed by...


The two major problems with the rules are skill challenges and rituals. SCs are an abysmal system that encourages metagaming, breaks immersion, and makes for tedious non-combat encounters. Essentially, the rules encourage maximizing a single skill and using that over and over again regardless of what the situation is. The simple solution for this is not to use SCs at all, but use regular skill checks like every other system does.

Obviously, skill challenges are a major point of contention with 4e. Of my top 3 moments in playing 4e, two of them are skill challenges. My fiancée ranks her top 2 moments as being skill challenges. Then again, some of my least favorite times have been when the DM doesn't implement a skill challenge properly.

So what does this mean? Well, when you are getting used to them, they will probably be sort of unintuitive and terrible. Hopefully, after a few, you will learn how to use them properly and they will truly be revolutionary to how your group games. Like Horatio, it has changed the way that I view challenges outside of combat. Unlike Kurald, I don't think 4e puts an emphasis on maximizing a single skill; instead, I feel that it puts the onus on teamwork and learning how to synergize your skills best to achieve maximum results.

But really, and I must stress this, just like with any other system, it depends on how the DM is able to present the skill challenge.

Kurald Galain
2009-12-20, 03:54 PM
Obviously, skill challenges are a major point of contention with 4e.
Yes.


Hopefully, after a few, you will learn how to use them properly and they will truly be revolutionary to how your group games.
This does not match my experience.


Unlike Kurald, I don't think 4e puts an emphasis on maximizing a single skill;
Maximizing one skill gives you the greatest chance of success, assuming you can convince your DM to allow that skill for whatever the task at hand is. This should be obvious from the math. Skill challenges are teamwork in that everybody is supposed to do something; on the other hand, they are not teamwork in that what the other PCs are doing is irrelevant to what your character does.

Of course, the situation changes if the DM diverges from the SC rules; feedback from the LFR campaign suggest that the most succesful "SCs" are those where the DM isn't actually using the SC rules. If the DM is good, the players won't necessarily be aware that he isn't doing RAW any more.

jmbrown
2009-12-20, 03:54 PM
The best method for skill challenges are environmental hazards. Talking to people should always boil down to roleplay and it's one of the reasons why I hate the concept of a diplomacy skill which should be renamed to "Bend To My Will" roll.

You know those moments where PCs are traveling and the DM normally goes "You travel for 5 days *rolls dice* and you encounter an owlbear." Turn that into a skill challenge. Let each character roll a skill they're good at; diplomatic characters find fellow travelers to walk with for a day, acrobatic characters pick their way through underbrush, perceptive characters find shortcuts, insightful characters know the safest paths to travel, athletic characters shave time by cutting through hills and mountains etc.

Each skill should apply in some way to traveling the wild from a nature check showing you how to avoid sinkholes to a dungeoneering check telling you which caves to pick as a shortcut. If the party fails, they're lost and make no progress possibly losing a healing surge or bumping into monsters.

The same can apply to multi-step traps. The rogue should have his chance to disarm a trap but there could be a "gauntlet" of traps with the lever on the other side. Acrobatics check to duck the poisoned darts, religion check to read the glyphs on the wall which translate into "Pray before the blades," athletics check to climb the wall of spikes, insight or perception check to know the "leap of faith" is an invisible bridge, etc.

The key to skills challenges is to make them as broad as possible (anything too specific should be limited to a single skill check) and never say no even if the skill doesn't, at first, seem to logically apply to the situation. If the players are swimming across a river and one says "I make a nature check to determine which rocks are strong enough to grab onto" allow them. In the same situation, if they said "I use a perception check to determine the point where the river flows the weakest" allow them. If someone says "Rivers flow downhill, I use dungeoneering to find a cave bypassing it" allow them. If someone says "I want to build a bridge across the river; 1d20+half level+int mod" let them.

If something sounds reasonable, allow it.

tcrudisi
2009-12-20, 04:01 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
3. If you play 4e, can you give me an example of problems you have with the rules and how you fixed them either with house-rules or ignoring them entirely?

Answers are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

First and foremost -- my post is not meant to bash 3.x in any way. I had a lot of fun with it or I never would have played it. Instead, as you'll note with my responses, I feel that 4e is a superior game. If I didn't feel that way, I would not be playing 4e. Obviously, not everyone feels this way.

1. Absolutely, it can deliver on both in a wonderful and meaningful way. It brings balance to the hack and slash -- no longer does the Wizard cast one spell and kill the BBEG. No longer does the Cleric go into Codzilla and smash things better than the Fighter. Instead, every class is balanced and everyone can participate equally, ceteris peribus.

As for outside of combat? Well, 4e revolutionized out-of-combat challenges with skill challenges. I went over that in my post above, however. Yes, there are fewer "skills" to use, but that's because they are now streamlined. There's no perform skill and you want your Bard to be good at singing? Well, if you went to the DM and said, "Hey, my Bard's a good singer," I do not think he would object. And really, as someone else said, if you want to make a skill check with it, find the most applicable skill (charisma, in the case of singing, or constitution if you are doing opera) and roll that, while adding 5. There ya go. Really, role-playing outside of combat requires very few rules anyway. What's needed is there -- it's streamlined, smooth, and a much more fun and wonderful experience.

2. Well, I didn't realize how important mini's were until I played with them. Coincidentally, this happened to be with 4e. I sat at the table confused by these minituare representations of our characters and the monsters. Now I wonder how I ever played D&D without them. My fiancée confessed recently that she was often confused when we played without them. Obviously, what was going on in my head was slightly different than in hers. With mini's, that does not happen.

However, I don't see any significant difference between 3.5 and 4e when it comes to "mandatory use of mini's." If you could get by in 3.5 without them then you can do it in 4e as well. I will second many people, however, in saying that you should come up with free/cheap solutions. In one game we use Star Wars Monopoly figures. This works against me as the DM as I've never seen Star Wars... the players love saying, "I'm going to Bull Rush Obi-Wan off the building." At which point I always have to ask, "Okay, which one is Obi-Wan?"

3. I run my games strictly by RAW and always incorporate the most recent errata. There's only one problem I've ever run into. Unfortunately, I can only remember half the problem right now or I would tell you about it. It was a situation where there were only 2 rulings and both could be exploited one way or another. The way I handled it? I told my players, "Look, I'm ruling that it goes way A. However, if you exploit it, don't get angry when the smart monsters start doing it too."

tcrudisi
2009-12-20, 04:15 PM
This does not match my experience.

I'm sorry to hear that.


Maximizing one skill gives you the greatest chance of success, assuming you can convince your DM to allow that skill for whatever the task at hand is. This should be obvious from the math.

Consider 4e's way of handling trained skills: you get +5 to the roll. When you say "maximizing one skill" I am assuming you mean by adding skill focus or items to improve that skill. In skill challenges, I find this to be fairly redundant. If I'm trained, I'll almost always pass in the skill challenge. If I'm not? Well, I've got a very good chance of failure. In that regards, I never maximize one skill -- I just stick with the few skills I have trained and leave the other skills to my teammates who are trained.


Skill challenges are teamwork in that everybody is supposed to do something; on the other hand, they are not teamwork in that what the other PCs are doing is irrelevant to what your character does.

It's very much relevant. Whether you group succeeds or fails is determined by how the group does, not by how an individual character performs. If you were using a skill challenge to chase down a fleeing bad guy and he escapes, the entire group is impacted by the repercussions. If my Cleric ally makes a religion check to learn that the ghost of a former Paladin of Kord is impressed by shows of strength, then it definitely impacts me -- I can now use Athletics to try to impress him.


Of course, the situation changes if the DM diverges from the SC rules; feedback from the LFR campaign suggest that the most succesful "SCs" are those where the DM isn't actually using the SC rules. If the DM is good, the players won't necessarily be aware that he isn't doing RAW any more.

Admittedly, I have only a little bit of LFR experience but I fail to see this. The best skill challenges I have been involved in were both by-the-book. The difference was how it was narrated and how imaginative the players and DM were. (And yes, I did go back and look at the modules after the convention as I am a sanctioned judge. Both DMs ran them properly. I loved those skill challenges so much that I really hope to find a way to incorporate one or both into my home games and do as good of a job as those two DMs.)

Haven
2009-12-20, 04:28 PM
3. I run my games strictly by RAW and always incorporate the most recent errata.

Oh hay, that's something else I've been wondering. How necessary is it to be up on the latest errata? And is it difficult to keep track of it all?

Artanis
2009-12-20, 04:30 PM
Oh hay, that's something else I've been wondering. How necessary is it to be up on the latest errata? And is it difficult to keep track of it all?

I can't say about necessity, but the errata is right there on the WotC site, with all the errata combined into one single file.

Theodoric
2009-12-20, 04:32 PM
Oh hay, that's something else I've been wondering. How necessary is it to be up on the latest errata? And is it difficult to keep track of it all?
All Erratae are placed in a single pdf available free from the wizards.com/dnd website. Just check regularly and you'll be fine; the game doesn't have many errors, and most (if not all, even) things that can be abused (or don't work) are eventually taken care off.

Okay, that sounded like a commercial. :smallredface:

Kurald Galain
2009-12-20, 04:43 PM
I'm sorry to hear that.
Well, let me put it like this: it may be tempting to think that the people that dislike SCs "just don't understand them". If that were true, then novice RPG players would tend to dislike SCs, and long-term players would appreciate them. This, however, is not the case. So the issue with SCs is a legitimate difference of opinion, and not a matter of one group of people not understanding something.



Consider 4e's way of handling trained skills: you get +5 to the roll. When you say "maximizing one skill" I am assuming you mean by adding skill focus or items to improve that skill.
That's probably not necessary. I was referring to skills that get a racial bonus and that key off your primary stat.


It's very much relevant. Whether you group succeeds or fails is determined by how the group does, not by how an individual character performs.
It is determined by how the group does, but not by what the group does. If your best skill is Dancing, then in every skill challenge your best way of contributing is going to be dancing, regardless of what the rest of the group is doing (stealth, prayer, whatever).


If my Cleric ally makes a religion check to learn that the ghost of a former Paladin of Kord is impressed by shows of strength, then it definitely impacts me -- I can now use Athletics to try to impress him.
Yes, but if athletics is not your highest skill, then your best bet is using something else; and if athletics is your highest skill, then your best bet is using athletics even without the cleric's advice.

Overall, it seems that the biggest factor contributing to the success of an SC is that the players are either unaware of, or intentionally ignore, the mechanically best option. Because otherwise the rogue is going to use stealth in every SC, the cleric will always use perception, and the wizard will always use arcana. You need some serious patchwork to counter this, because arbitrarily disallowing certain skills in an SC doesn't solve the issue, and nor does forbidding a character from use the same skill twice.

Kurald Galain
2009-12-20, 04:45 PM
Oh hay, that's something else I've been wondering. How necessary is it to be up on the latest errata? And is it difficult to keep track of it all?
It's not necessary to keep track of it unless your players are into serious min-maxing. It is difficult to keep track of only because there's so many of it (approx 80 pages of errata so far).

There are two exceptions: the skill challenge rules as printed in the DMG are critically flawed, as are the stealth rules as printed in the PHB. The errata for both is highly recommended.

Saph
2009-12-20, 05:12 PM
Yeah, I have to back Kurald here. Skill Challenges are a nice idea and a terrible mechanic. In my experience, the best way to run Skill Challenges is to ignore everything the books say about Skill Challenges except for the XP awards. I've yet to meet a single DM that can make by-the-book Skill Challenges interesting - and I know some pretty good DMs.

FatR
2009-12-20, 05:27 PM
This has probably been asked a thousand times before, but I need to know; should I switch to 4th edition?
Before answering, consider these points:
1. I enjoy hack and slash stuff as well as story. Can 4e deliever on both?
H&S depends on whether the players actually bother to figure out how to optimize their characters. If no, it can, at least for some people. If yes, the game is unplayable without gentlemen's agreement about players not putting their PCs into God Mode (not really different from 3.X in this, though). As about the story, I find that 4E actively harms stories I care to tell, by completely disconnecting combat mechanics from things that actually go on in the game worlds, and not allowing you to use your mojo for anything but killing stuff. See: Shroedinger wounds, (ass)pulls, removal of almost all powers that actually can have (worthwhile) permanent effect on the game word, besides making your enemies dead, PC and NPCs using completely different mechanics, and so on.


2. I don't want to put too much money into miniatures, can 4e be played without or with very little use thereof, or are miniatures a necessity?
Grid map is a must. Of course, any sort of tokens can be substituted for miniatures.