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View Full Version : [4.0] New campaign, new format, new everything



Stanlee
2010-12-06, 01:14 PM
A few of us dudes currently play 3.5e, I am a PC in the campaign. The current DM mentioned that we are nearing the end of his campaign and that he would like to play next time and trying 4th ed. I have been wanting to DM a game and I think 4th ed would be a lot better to start off with (never DMed before). I am not very good with super specific rules and technicalities, I just want a good story with interesting plot lines and allow players to make super cool characters but not weird stuff. 4th edition has a ton of books and I was hoping to just stick to some core books, because I am sure there is a lot of shadey fluff going on in the supplements. So far I have selected PHB1 & 2 and DMG1 & 2. I have not fully read through them yet but they had pretty colors on the cover so I bought them. I don't think I am interested in allowing PHB3 characters, they are a little too out there for my taste. I was also considering using Adventurer's Vault stuff.

As a DM who is not super concerned with super technical rules, loopholes, and such what sort of content should I use and what should I limit? Trying to KISS (keep it simple stupid).

I am not really interested in you telling me how much 4th ed sucks, that is not really helpful for me.

I am also not too concerned with players trying to powergame, to an extent. I would make up for any super-strengths with more complex roleplay challenges.

Sipex
2010-12-06, 01:23 PM
You're going from 3.5 to 4th edition so here are some gotchas that got me.

Opportunity Attacks are simpler: 4th edition OAs are only provoked when an enemy moves within threatened reach or when a ranged attack is made within threatened reach.
OAs are NOT provoked when: Standing up, using an item, pulling out a weapon...well, anything else.

On that note: 5 foot steps are now called Shifting. Shifting typically gives you a 5 foot step (1 square) but can sometimes let you move more. Shifting only provokes OAs if the enemy or player has an ability that explicitly says so (like Fighters marks)

Diagonal movement only takes 1 square, not 1.5

Classing system works differently. You choose a base class which you level up, you can multiclass but it simply takes a feat and just gives you access to certain powers/abilities from that class. You will, forever, gain levels as your base class.

Start at a level no higher than 3, this is your first game.

For monsters, if you're using MM1 monsters they may seem very...hardy but not very threatening. If you find this is true, reduce monster HP by 33% and increase all monster damage by 33%.

You chose good books to start with (get a monster manual btw), PHB 1 and 2 are fairly similar while PHB 3 adds Hybrid classes (which gets confusing). Just make your players stick to them until you understand the game better.

Joseph Silver
2010-12-06, 01:25 PM
From a 3.5 perspective, all of the classes fall within Tiers 3 and 4. There isn't really anything downright broken in 4e as long as you stay current with rules updates (a.k.a. errata). Even without errata, 4e is reasonably well-balanced compared to 3.5.

Most classes have a primary role and one or more secondary roles. There are some classes which are almost purely one role, like the ranger (pure striker), and there are others who are about even in the primary role and their secondary role like the warlock, which is a striker/controller.

Martial classes tend to deal more damage than other power sources, Arcane tends to be more controllerish, Primal tends to have more HP, Divine has better healing, while Psionic is basically the psychic version of Arcane. Shadow doesn't have much content, but it feels close to Arcane and Psionic.

Try to play according to RAW, and try to resist making knee-jerk house rules to fix nonexistent problems. To think outside the box, you need to learn how to think inside the box first.

Sipex
2010-12-06, 01:31 PM
More tips! (I post them as I think of them)

Dual wielding works differently. Most classes can use any one handed weapon in their main hand but in their off hand they need a weapon with the 'off hand' key word (daggers, short swords, etc).

Initially, this does nothing, you just have the option of using weapon A or weapon B when attacking.

You can beef it up with feats though (called Two Weapon <something> feats) which give you bonuses for wielding two weapons.

Then, you have certain classes and class builds which can actually use both weapons at once. The best example of this is the Ranger who has powers which use both weapons (like Twin strike), these powers explicitly spell out that they use both weapons.

Stanlee
2010-12-06, 01:38 PM
Try to play according to RAW, and try to resist making knee-jerk house rules to fix nonexistent problems. To think outside the box, you need to learn how to think inside the box first.

This is good advice. I dont want to go ahead and change a bunch of things when I dont understand the big picture stuff.

I have never used Psyonics before. Does 4e make it easy to understand?

tcrudisi
2010-12-06, 01:39 PM
As a DM who is not super concerned with super technical rules, loopholes, and such what sort of content should I use and what should I limit? Trying to KISS (keep it simple stupid).[/B]

If none of your players have ever played 4e, there's no need to go beyond PHB1 and 2, really. Your players will be a bit limited in choices, but it's your first game, so I don't see a problem with that. If you only buy one MM, make it MM3. You miss out on the iconic monsters, but they are better balanced.

If you haven't purchased it yet, you could probably do without DMG2. However, read through all of the DMG1. Especially page 42 where it deals with skill challenges.

Really, the powers books and other books are really nice, but they aren't necessary. They just add a lot of options that are extra.

There's no content that needs to be limited, though.



I have never used Psyonics before. Does 4e make it easy to understand?

Yes, Psionics are easy to understand if you have the PHB3. They work a little differently, but honestly, it's not a huge difference.

Stanlee
2010-12-06, 01:42 PM
More tips! (I post them as I think of them)

Yay! :smallamused:

From all the things you have listed thus far it kind of seems like a lot of the stuff I saw in WoW. I used to play WoW but I quit and started playing D&D because I wanted to see real peoples faces, lol. But I am familiar with that sort of mechanics and think I can work with stuff like that.

valadil
2010-12-06, 01:43 PM
The thing that I found to be a big paradigm shift in 4e is that your players will know more about their characters than you do. Coming from 3.5, I was used to encyclopedic GMing, where you had to know everything. 4e is organized differently so that you only really have to look at the powers for your class. This means that the players are much more focused in their own classes and they will progress in ways you can't predict. This is not a bad thing, it's just something that takes some getting used to.

Sipex
2010-12-06, 01:50 PM
Oh, another tip: 4e doesn't have rules for everything. If your player...say...wants to use Ray of Frost to freeze a path across the pond decide for yourself if it's plausible.

I find everything works better if you think like this, keep an open mind and you'll have a lot more fun.

Also, grappling is a lot easier than 3.5, it's now just a simple attack vs defense sort of check.

Stanlee
2010-12-06, 02:47 PM
What does "RAW" stand for?

I also saw mention of "ROE" or "REO" or something like that out there.

I was in the army for 7 years then I worked as an aviation engineer for a few years after that. Forgive me if my brain is completely fried when it comes to acronyms. My brain just does not process them anymore, lol

Sipex
2010-12-06, 02:48 PM
RAW = Rules as Written

The second one you're thinking of is RAI which represents Rules as Intended

Mystic Muse
2010-12-06, 02:51 PM
"Rules as written."

The expanded books don't have any shady content. WOTC actually erratas the bad stuff now. Dragon magazine has one or two things though.

DungeonDelver
2010-12-06, 03:11 PM
Sticking with the first two player's handbooks is good, there are lots of fun options with all of the iconic races, plus a few extra races. While there are tons of powerful effects, no one is going to be able to just end an encounter with one shot. Everybody's characters should be balanced enough to keep everyone having fun.

For a new DM, I recommend studying the combat section of the DMG, the part that explains monster roles in detail. 4e encounters are fairly easy to set up once you understand what it means by Brute, Soldier, etc.

I'd also look for errata on anything you currently have. This isn't a must, of course, but errata could potentially quash a few minor issues before they exist.

Seerow
2010-12-06, 03:13 PM
Honestly you can open up all supplements without too much worry of being overwhelmed. They did a good job at restricting every build to a set amount of options, so as long as you're familiar with the characters they won't throw you for a major loop, which is the main thing you want to avoid as a fresh DM.

Sang Real
2010-12-06, 03:36 PM
From a 3.5 perspective, all of the classes fall within Tiers 3 and 4. There isn't really anything downright broken in 4e as long as you stay current with rules updates (a.k.a. errata). Even without errata, 4e is reasonably well-balanced compared to 3.5.
Yes, this.

There are no uber classes or gimp classes in 4e like there were in previous editions. There are power differences to be sure, but they're minor. There are a few wonky powers that have been errataed, but even in their original forms they're just a bit overpowered--not utterly broken like Polymorph of 3e. So don't worry about banning stuff for balance reasons.

If your players are new to the game, you might want to ban hybrid characters for a while. Only because it's easy to gimp yourself if your two classes don't have matching stats. Multiclassing is simpler, more balanced and, in my opinion, better all-around.

Seerow
2010-12-06, 03:44 PM
If your players are new to the game, you might want to ban hybrid characters for a while. Only because it's easy to gimp yourself if your two classes don't have matching stats. Multiclassing is simpler, more balanced and, in my opinion, better all-around.

Indeed, just advise your characters to stay away from Paragon multiclassing. Whose idea it was to make paragon multiclassing give no class features at all I don't know, but 99 times out of 100 it's not worth it.

gurban
2010-12-06, 04:08 PM
If everybody is new, learn the rules, especially combat basics as best you can. WotC also offers the Quick Start Guide, with the basic combat stuff and some sample characters. Have a session with your players, using pre gens BEFORE your campaign starts, so you can learn combat, the action economy, and or skill challenge stuff together. That way the game will go smoothly when you do actually start your campaign. Also the players will learn the roles and how those roles interact and why they are there. The players will be able to make better informed decisions about race and class. That way the guy playing wizard, but actually wanted sorcerer without knowing that, will choose sorcerer, because he understands what the dfference between strikers and controllers are.

Stanlee
2010-12-06, 04:55 PM
If everybody is new, learn the rules, especially combat basics as best you can. WotC also offers the Quick Start Guide, with the basic combat stuff and some sample characters. Have a session with your players, using pre gens BEFORE your campaign starts, so you can learn combat, the action economy, and or skill challenge stuff together. That way the game will go smoothly when you do actually start your campaign. Also the players will learn the roles and how those roles interact and why they are there. The players will be able to make better informed decisions about race and class. That way the guy playing wizard, but actually wanted sorcerer without knowing that, will choose sorcerer, because he understands what the dfference between strikers and controllers are.

They are all pretty experienced players, I would actually say I am the newbie between them all. But I think this is a good suggestion as none of us are familiar with 4e mechanics.

kyoryu
2010-12-06, 05:07 PM
Start at a level no higher than 3, this is your first game.


Agreed with all of this advice, but I'd take it a step further on the level - if it's your first time DMing, and your first time with 4e, start at level 1. Level 1 characters are far more hardy and, *in general* (there are a couple minor exceptions) have many more options than level 1 characters in any prior edition.

Level 1 4e is much closer to level 4 or so in 3.x.

Katana_Geldar
2010-12-06, 05:30 PM
Party composition is rather important in 4E, as a lot of it depends on specialised roles working together. Pay attention to the four roles, Striker, Controller, Defender and Leader. I won't say that you need all four roles to have a fully balanced party, but you can't survive at higher levels without a good leader.

You also need to remember not all of them are about doing lots of damage, like controllers and leaders. Controllers are about holding enemies down and killing the little ones quickly, leaders heal, buff and assist and hardly ever attack.

WitchSlayer
2010-12-06, 05:38 PM
DMing for 4e is a whole lot easier from my experience, feel free to just make up checks if your players want to do something that you think is cool. Also, as said above, make sure your party isn't a druid, a wizard, a cleric and, I dunno, a bard, make sure you have a fairly balanced party composition. Otherwise battles may end up taking a VERY long time.

tcrudisi
2010-12-06, 06:08 PM
Party composition is rather important in 4E, as a lot of it depends on specialised roles working together. Pay attention to the four roles, Striker, Controller, Defender and Leader. I won't say that you need all four roles to have a fully balanced party, but you can't survive at higher levels without a good leader.

You also need to remember not all of them are about doing lots of damage, like controllers and leaders. Controllers are about holding enemies down and killing the little ones quickly, leaders heal, buff and assist and hardly ever attack.

I pretty much want to disagree completely with what Katana said.

The 4 roles are good guidelines for new players (and by "new" we have been meaning "new to 4e". So even though they've been playing RPG's for a long time, they are still new). However, the 4 roles can be completely ignored by experienced players. I recently played an entire weekend with 3 of my mates. We had 2 controllers, a striker and a defender. I was the defender and never came close to dieing. In fact, I was pretty much worthless. The 2 controllers did their job so well that we breezed through everything.

Depending on what your controller does, he'll out-damage the rest of the party hands-down. He'll just do it spread over a lot more monsters, so while he's doing 10 damage to 5 monsters, your striker will do 20 damage to 1 monster. It's all in how you perceive it. Yes, your controllers job is to hold the enemies down, but the Leaders? They will always attack. Always. Everyone attacks. Healing is an after-thought. Buffing and assisting? That's done with your attacks. They are built in.

Kaun
2010-12-06, 06:17 PM
OAs are NOT provoked when: Standing up.

I was thinking about this the other day, is it true?

Because standing up is a move action, its not a shift and moving in a threatened square prevokes an AoO.

Am i missing something? (sorry at work so no rule book on hand.)

EDIT:

And pro's Tips;
solo monsters arn't.
PC's will destroy an evenly balanced encounter with out brakeing a sweat unless you play crafty.
If you wan't to make players work for the exp/loot prevent them from takeing extended rests to often.
Item powers per day seems like a silly rule early on but it is worth having after say level 15.

Hzurr
2010-12-06, 06:27 PM
One big thing to keep in mind is that 4E is much more focused on the group, rather than the individual. This goes for both PCs, and Monsters.

When you design encounters, it's done around a group of Monsters, not individual monsters. Some monsters are designed to be heavy hitters on the front line, some are designed to sneak around and attack your flanks, some are designed to stay in the back and hurl arrows or fireballs or something

When you design PCs, some of the classes that may appear "weak" are actually very strong, because they're designed to be used as part of a group. While it isn't "necessary" to have all the roles filled as part of a group, it helps people identify what their class is supposed to do. That way, if someone is playing a class with a role of "Defender," they know that their job is to be the front line, and protect the others; not to do damage or be heal-bots or whatever. If a class is designated a "striker" than that person knows that their class is designed to do damage, not to be the party tank. If someone is a leader, than their primary job is to make everyone else awesome. If someone is a controller, their job is to make the DM's monster's lives hell.


As far as what books to get, I'd say the PHB1 (and 2 if you have the means). The Essentials DM Kit/Essentials Rules Compendium for the most up to date, simple, and errata'd rules. (That being said, if you go with the origional DMG, you'll be fine, especially at lvls 1-10).

As far as which book to get for monsters, I cannot recommend enough the new Monster Vault book that just came out. Basically, it covers all the classic D&D monsters, but the developers had 2+ years of 4E experience to refine and improve on all of them. By far one of the best monster books (and you don't need to do any tweaking to damage


TL;DR

- 4E is group based, not individual based
- PHB1, Essentials DM Kit, Rules Compendium, Monster Vault.

Mando Knight
2010-12-06, 06:40 PM
And pro's Tips;
solo monsters arn't.

Except for some dragons. Tiamat is "Ah, add in an Ancient Gold on the heroes' side and you're even" strong, Blacks are "Your controller has Sleep prepared and a bunch of ridiculous save-killers, right? Or at least an area stun power?" Reds devour your body and soul... hope you brought some fire resist, because it brought the ketchup.

kyoryu
2010-12-06, 06:44 PM
EDIT:

And pro's Tips;
solo monsters arn't.
PC's will destroy an evenly balanced encounter with out brakeing a sweat unless you play crafty.
If you wan't to make players work for the exp/loot prevent them from takeing extended rests to often.
Item powers per day seems like a silly rule early on but it is worth having after say level 15.

The game is really designed around 4 or so encounters per extended rest - as such, encounters by the book tend to *not* be designed to kill the players, but to reduce their stock of dailies/surges. If you let players take an extended rest after every encounter, they will *decimate* encounters as written.

To make this work, you need to either not give out appropriate places for extended rests all the time, put in a reason to *not* take an extended rest (time limits, etc.), or bump up encounters so that they're challenging even if the characters blow every daily power in it.

Katana_Geldar
2010-12-06, 06:48 PM
Or you can interrupt their extended rests.

Seerow
2010-12-06, 06:49 PM
The game is really designed around 4 or so encounters per extended rest - as such, encounters by the book tend to *not* be designed to kill the players, but to reduce their stock of dailies/surges. If you let players take an extended rest after every encounter, they will *decimate* encounters as written.

To make this work, you need to either not give out appropriate places for extended rests all the time, put in a reason to *not* take an extended rest (time limits, etc.), or bump up encounters so that they're challenging even if the characters blow every daily power in it.

Very much this. I ran a dungeon crawl in 4e where they couldn't quite make a getaway after the 4th encounter, due to time sensitivity, but the wizard ran flat out of healing surges, a couple other members were down to 1-2, and only one party member had a daily left. It made the last encounter feel much more challenging just knowing how much more restricted they were on the healing, even though the encounter itself was similar in power level to the others. It was that situation that sold me on 4e being a good system.

Also the way that immediately afterwards the players were looking for anything they could find to prevent such a situation from cropping up again. They began to be much more conservative in using their healing powers and dailies, and specifically sought out items to help with healing surge conservation and manipulation (such as the belt that lets you take a healing surge from one party member and use it to heal somebody else).


If you try to send a solo at the players as their first encounter of the day, and expect that to be their only encounter, expect that solo to get blown up in no time flat, unless you make it several levels above the party (and then expect cursing from the players as they continuously miss and the encounter drags out). Remember, an on level solo is not a boss encounter, it is the same as throwing 4(5?) standard monsters at them. If you don't expect 4 kobolds to give them a lot of trouble, don't expect the level 2 young ice dragon to give them much either.

kyoryu
2010-12-06, 06:57 PM
Or you can interrupt their extended rests.

Yeah, I kind of intended to imply that with the "no safe area for an extended rest," but it definitely deserves to be brought up as a point on its own.

Excession
2010-12-06, 09:07 PM
You get one immediate action, whether reaction or interrupt, per combat round. So once the fighter uses his Combat Challenge attack, he can't use it until his turn comes up again.

You get one opportunity action per turn. So the fighter gets to make OAs against every enemy that provokes one.

Sinon
2010-12-06, 09:49 PM
4e is such that I wouldn’t expect anyone who’s mastered the 3rd edition would have any problems figuring it out.

My advice: carefully read all the rules on combat and movement and such and encourage your players to do the same.

Some things have similar names, but just aren’t alike at all (like a saving throw.)

You will have at least one player who skimmed, thinks he knows how something works, but is still thinking of it from a 3rd edition perspective/definition. That will lead to a problem and the more quickly you can clarify the issue for your players the better.

Katana_Geldar
2010-12-06, 09:55 PM
Take it easy, start small and go slow. Just bash up some kobolds until you feel comfortable with it.

Kaun
2010-12-06, 10:37 PM
I was thinking about this the other day, is it true?

Because standing up is a move action, its not a shift and moving in a threatened square prevokes an AoO.

Am i missing something? (sorry at work so no rule book on hand.)


Got home, checked essentials, answered question....

Never mind me, having a brain fart day!

Sipex
2010-12-07, 09:29 AM
Got home, checked essentials, answered question....

Never mind me, having a brain fart day!

Yeah, I was going to get back to you on this.

Don't worry, it totally confused me too. The real rules on provoking OAs are:

1) Making a RANGED attack in a threatened square.
2) Moving out of a threatened square without a shift action (standing up counts as staying in the threatened square).
3) Some PCs or monsters will have special cases which will be explicitly spelled out. Fighters get an OA on any marked target within a threatened square which doesn't attack them or tries to shift away. Druids can get a special ability which allows them an OA if a monster tries to stand up from prone.

Stanlee
2010-12-07, 10:24 AM
4e is such that I wouldn’t expect anyone who’s mastered the 3rd edition would have any problems figuring it out.

My advice: carefully read all the rules on combat and movement and such and encourage your players to do the same.

Some things have similar names, but just aren’t alike at all (like a saving throw.)

You will have at least one player who skimmed, thinks he knows how something works, but is still thinking of it from a 3rd edition perspective/definition. That will lead to a problem and the more quickly you can clarify the issue for your players the better.

Out of all the other people I play with I would be most likely to do this, lol. But because I am DMing I am forced to really pay attention.

I would like to thank all of you for your help with this. It has been a great help. I am making notes and making sure to reference all the good stuff.

Stanlee
2010-12-07, 10:26 AM
As far as what books to get, I'd say the PHB1 (and 2 if you have the means). The Essentials DM Kit/Essentials Rules Compendium for the most up to date, simple, and errata'd rules. (That being said, if you go with the origional DMG, you'll be fine, especially at lvls 1-10).

As far as which book to get for monsters, I cannot recommend enough the new Monster Vault book that just came out. Basically, it covers all the classic D&D monsters, but the developers had 2+ years of 4E experience to refine and improve on all of them. By far one of the best monster books (and you don't need to do any tweaking to damage


TL;DR

- 4E is group based, not individual based
- PHB1, Essentials DM Kit, Rules Compendium, Monster Vault.

Good I was wondering where to pull my monsters out of. Another poster mentioned that MM3 has a lot more interesting monsters and if I can get all the core monster from the Monster Vault then I should be pretty good with not needing MM1 and MM2.

Galdor Miriel
2010-12-07, 03:34 PM
There is no need to limit the books with 4E, rather limit the players to legal characters created with the builder, then you will be fine. The only thing you should ban is an essentials character, we are holding off on the new online character builder in our campaign, wic has all the essentials stuff in it, because we suspect there is a big jump there. If you use the installed version of CB you will be fine.

None of the 4E material up to essentials should be banned, as there is nothing broken (especially after errata).

If I were you I would look up some tips on using the skill challenge concept. It is a good addition to the game. We also make rituals cheaper as encouraging there use makes things more interesting in the game.

GM

Mando Knight
2010-12-07, 03:59 PM
Fighters get an OA on any marked target within a threatened square which doesn't attack them or tries to shift away.

This is wrong. Fighters get an immediate action melee basic attack for those two triggers. The difference might seem petty, but is in fact huge: they can only retaliate in such a way once per round (rather than once per turn, as with OAs), and they get none of the rider effects specifically geared toward opportunity attacks (Heavy Blade Opportunity, Combat Superiority, etc.). This means you don't get your Wis modifier as an additional bonus to the attack roll, you can't use an At-Will in place of a melee basic, and a shifting enemy does not stop when hit.

tbarrie
2010-12-07, 04:29 PM
If you only buy one MM, make it MM3. You miss out on the iconic monsters, but they are better balanced.
Or get the Monster Vault, which was published post-MM3 and is chock full of iconic monsters, with their stats rejiggered where appropriate.

randomhero00
2010-12-07, 04:34 PM
I've DM'd 3.5 but not 4th (but played in it).... but it seems to me like DMing 4th, especially when you haven't played yet would be harder than DMing 3.5.

But maybe that's just me. 4th ed has a lot more of a fine edge of balance. Whereas 3.5 is all over the place, which to me is a good thing. If someones lagging behind its easy to boost them up or change things up. If someone sucks at playing 4th (and yes, I've seen several people suck at it, despite its claims of easiness) then its almost impossible to help them out except blatantly changing their character or giving them extra levels or something which isn't good for group cohesion.

4th ed. is also generally harder to roleplay for most people. Yet another challenge you'll need to overcome.

Kaun
2010-12-07, 04:45 PM
Yeah, I was going to get back to you on this.

Don't worry, it totally confused me too. The real rules on provoking OAs are:

1) Making a RANGED attack in a threatened square.
2) Moving out of a threatened square without a shift action (standing up counts as staying in the threatened square).
3) Some PCs or monsters will have special cases which will be explicitly spelled out. Fighters get an OA on any marked target within a threatened square which doesn't attack them or tries to shift away. Druids can get a special ability which allows them an OA if a monster tries to stand up from prone.

Hehe yeah, i forgot the "moving out" part.

On a side note i finally picked up a copy of the rules essentials last night, not a bad little book all said and done and fairly cheap.