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Thread: 4th Edition DnD

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    ClericGuy

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    Default 4th Edition DnD

    Hey all, i'm one of those idiots that likes to rip on 4e despite never playing it.

    I plan on buying the books and running afew sessions, but i'm more so wondering what can I expect to be so radically different?

    As someone who is coming from playing 3.5 & 5e.

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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Definitely take a few sessions to give it a fair shake. There is a lot more that is different than initially appears. I was a little iffy when I first started playing, but DMing is what really sold me on the system; it is hands down much easier to run than either 3e or 4e.

    The first thing that you'll probably notice is the uniformity during character creation. Everyone picks a race and class (and sometimes a build option), a feat, then two at-will powers, an encounter power, and a daily power (and then continue to accumulate feats and powers at the same rate). Your initial gut feeling will probably be that everything feels kind of "samey", but once you start playing the differences become apparent. A fighter, cleric, and wizard will all feel different during play even though they have the same number of powers because of how their powers and features operate. The fighter will keep the most dangerous foe attached to her so that the wizard can clear out multiple minions with his area powers. Meanwhile, the cleric will be simultaneously deal damage and buff their allies. Many (most?) powers have some effect besides just dealing damage, such as moving enemies around, inflicting status effects on them, or giving you some temporary hp. These riders make a big difference in how things feel.

    Race also has a much bigger influence than in either 3e or 5e. In those, races mostly give you a couple static modifiers that you write down and forget, but in 4e you get a racial power that you choose to activate, such as the Dragonborn's dragon breath, the Elf's elven accuracy, or the Eladrin's fey step. This goes for the monsters too; there are like six different goblins in the MM1 with different equipment and tactics (so you don't have just a generic goblin that has to do everything), but they all have the same goblin tactics ability that lets them shift if you miss them in melee which helps give them a unified feel.

    Healing surges are like 5e's hit dice but frankly better. Hp is a measure of short-term endurance whereas your healing surges measure long-term endurance. Healing is mostly built into the recipient through spending their healing surges (which recover 1/4 your hp instead of a variable amount). Most healing powers, like the cleric's healing word simply let the target tap into their healing surges. You can also use them after taking a short rest (which is 5 minutes instead of an hour as in 5e), so even if you don't have a leader, it isn't the end of the world. Most leaders get a minor-action healing feature so they don't have to decide between healing or attacking like in 3e; you get to do both.

    You get a standard, move, and minor action each turn, which can be transferred left to right (so you can take a standard action and two minor actions). Most attack powers are standard actions, most movement abilities are move actions, and most support abilities are minor actions (which are similar to 5e's bonus actions). You also get 1 immediate action between each of your turns, which can either be an interrupt (resolves before the action) or a reaction (resolves after the action), unlike 5e which calls them both reactions (where apparently shield involves some amount of time travel). You can also take one opportunity attack per opponent's turn, which are triggered by movement and ranged attacks. Melee and close attacks do not, even if they would be spell attacks in 3e. Thus a wizard who casts burning hands does not provoke an attack because it is a close blast, but does if she casts fireball since it is a ranged burst.

    The attacker rolls all of the dice, so Fort, Ref, and Will and static defenses rather than bonuses like in 3e. Saves are completely different; it is a static roll to throw off status effects rather than something that you usually have bonuses to.

    A lot of stuff is more consistent and standardized than in other editions. This means that most powers can fit on half an index card (and many people print their powers out on cards and flip them over when they expend them). Once you get used to the system, all a player needs during play is their character sheet, their power cards, and maybe a page or two detailing their class features and a crib sheet for the status effects. As a DM, I typically bookmark the pages for the monsters that I expect to use during the next session. Each monster is self contained except for those status effects, so again your probably don't need to go searching through the books for things (as long as you have that status effect crib sheet).

    This should hit most of the big things. Start at level 1 and try to get used to the system; lower-level characters are both more competent and durable then low-level 3e characters.

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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    There are a bunch of underlying mechanical differences that I'm sure others will cover, but the big one to point out is the difference in presentation. This is the big scary one that led to a lot of people, including myself for a while, to buy into the whole "ra ra 4e is World of Warcraft" thing, and it can be pretty jarring when you're used to other games. So yeah, a lot of 4e rules can read more like a legal document or the instruction manual for a video game than the more natural prose of other editions' rulebooks, but that really is just presentation. 4e isn't actually that different to other editons, once you look at what it's saying rather than how it's saying it. Things like saying 1 square instead of 5 feet - you were always playing on a square grid with everything measured in increments of 1 square, for instance, 4e just cuts out the step where you have to think "ok 55 feet means... 11 squares which means I can move this far on the battle map" and just gives you a speed of 11 squares. The presentation is different, it's more overtly mechanics-based, but it's not actually changing the game in any respect, and it doesn't do anything to change the experience of playing D&D.

    Similarly, a common complaint people make is that all classes are the same, because all powers looks pretty similar. They're laid out the same, they have an identical block of keywords and a bunch of text copied over, the only difference is this one says "push 2" and this one says "close burst 1". But once you look past the presentation, those are totally different things that feel and play very differently. One is a mighty blow that sends its target flying back a full ten feet, the other a sweeping arc that cuts down everyone around you. And indeed, both those things are feats in 3.5 that people generally consider to be cool and interesting. The only difference there is the mechanical terminology used.

    So, the main takeaway: things won't actually be as radically different as you're expecting. Once you look past the superficial elements, 4e is a lot less dissimilar to other editions than the Great Editions Wars would have you think. It's a different kind of D&D (and I'd certainly argue a better one, but that's beside the point), not a different game altogether.
    Last edited by Lanaya; 2019-08-11 at 07:33 PM.

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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Well, first of all, welcome to the board. I hope you enjoy your time with our game, and I'm glad that people have been toning down their rhetoric lately (finally, it's been 10 years) and giving 4e a new look.

    Mechanically, as Lanaya says, it's pretty similar. There are some terms to learn, like Close Burst vs Close Blast etc, but altogether the game boils down to "roll a d20 and add modifiers" so it's mostly the same base.

    Where things really differ is in the planning sections, both as a DM and as players. 4e is built to remove a lot of the "5 minute workday" effect of older editions (especially prevalent at lower levels). Encounter and at-will powers let you push on even after blowing your big spells. Healing surges let you rest up between fights without relying on magic items and potions. In general you'll get more done between "long rests" than you would in 3e, and to a lesser extent 5e, especially at lower levels. This leads to less instances of "well I guess you guys sleep in this dungeon room" than other editions might have, and lets the group feel more competent at lower levels.

    From the DM side, though, is where 4e really shines. Monsters are SUPER easy to build. There are tables to use as guidelines, and you can whip out a fairly unique-feeling monster at the table in about 2 minutes flat. Prep is generally easy as well, and you can throw larger groups of foes at the party, which often makes more sense in the fiction of the game anyways. There are very good encounter-building guidelines as well that you should be aware of, follow a few times to get used to where your group sits on the power/competency scale, and then gradually exceed the guidelines in interesting ways. But the encounter guideline (what is a "balanced" encounter) will always be there, so you always know where you are theoretically hitting on the difficulty scale.

    With these guidelines and PCs being more durable, 4e is less swingy than 3e or 5e can be. While a player dying is still a concern, you are far less likely to send the party into a death spiral and end up with a TPK, so you're a bit more free to challenge the party.

    DMing is super easy with 4e, though you may have to relearn some of your 3e/5e assumptions that you may be coming to the table with. It's the first edition my wife ever felt comfortable enough GMing to do it on a regular basis.

    4e isn't for everyone, and we all freely admit that. It may not be for you. But whether it is or not, it's a heck of a game and I hope you enjoy it.

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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Quote Originally Posted by ve4grm View Post
    From the DM side, though, is where 4e really shines.

    DMing is super easy with 4e, though you may have to relearn some of your 3e/5e assumptions that you may be coming to the table with.

    4e isn't for everyone, and we all freely admit that. It may not be for you. But whether it is or not, it's a heck of a game and I hope you enjoy it.
    Quoting this because it's one of my maxims of 4e that I express all the time.

    4e is seriously the easiest edition to DM that I have experienced to date (3.0, 3.5, 4e and 5e). Encounter building is just one of those areas.

    One thing, though, is that DMing 4e is where I can easily see the comparisons people make between 4e and an MMO. Except that as a 4e DM, you're looking at all of the code for the game, but your players should only be seeing the game. So 4e can and should still feel like D&D and a TTRPG for your players, but you, the DM, may feel acutely aware of how different it is from other editions of D&D. And that's okay.

    My experiences with DMing 4e have made me a better DM (either running 5e or when I went back and ran a 3.5e game). Namely because I realized I was previously DMing while looking at the game and the world like the players do, and adhering to artificial standards of "balance" with regards to creatures vis a vis what PCs could do. Monsters and NPCs in 4e do not follow the same kind of creation rules that PCs do, and there's no reason they should. They're only around for one encounter. You can use monster-building guidelines to figure what kind of damage a creature of any given level will be able to put out, but apart from that, the actual abilities themselves should be fun, in keeping with the flavor of the creature, and exciting or cinematic in combat.

    As the 4e DM, you know that you are building encounters with an "XP Budget" that you use to "buy" creatures for the encounter. The amount of XP in the "Budget" depends on the Party's level, how many there are, and how difficult you want to make then encounter (there's a table in the DMG). You may want a mix of ranged and melee, or all melee, and you can always add a few Minion Creatures to fill out the ranks. You want an enemy spellcaster to lead the enemies, but don't want him being so frail that he goes down first? You can add a template to a regular Artillery or Controller type monster, making it elite (and doubling it's HP). You can finally pit a full party of 5 or 6 PCs against a Solo monster, and not have to worry about it either going down too quick due to Action Economy (most Solos have out-of-turn actions), or, conversely, doing so much damage that it TPKs the party. Dragon fights are fun and exciting. I ran a level 4 or 5 party against a Green Dragon early in my 4e run, and it was a huge hit with all the players.

    A note on Skills. You will note that some skills that were unrelated to Fantasy Adventuring are no longer in the game. That doesn't mean you can't still DO those things. Item creation can just be free-form roleplay, there's no need to make a specific "create things" skill. Also, Skill Challenges are a great way to have elements of exploration or action thatare not combat, but have the same kind of robust feel of a combat encounter. The DMG2, in particular, has some great advice on how to make a good Skill Challenge. Make sure that plenty of different Skills are available, even if they're just as Secondary Skills (skills that don't contribute success or failure to the challenge, but can still give a bonus to an ally or remove a failure), so that everyone can participate meaningfully. Some of the example Skill Challenges in both DMGs are greta for this. Attempting to find a location in the woods is a good one. Shutting down a room full of traps is another.

    Some advice, though, on running a game: The game does assume a certain amount of magical gear to stay relevant. Especially Armor slot items, Neck slot items (boost to NADs), and Weapons/Implements. While using the "Wish List" system may seem a little too "gamist" for some, I will remind anyone reading this that it is narratively always cool and exciting for the party to find things they can use. When Driz'zt defeated the white dragon Icingdeath, did he find a magic weapon weapon he could not or did not use, or did he find a magic scimitar? One thing the Wish List system always does is leaves out one party member getting an item each level, but most 4e systems assume that "Magic Item Shops" are a thing, at least for Common and Uncommon magic items. I don't remember if the books state this explicitly, but what always worked for me was to have a Wish List from the party at each level (expressed as n), each person asks for one item of each level for (n + 1) to (n + 5). Then you, the DM, pick the items for your treasure allocation. One PC each level will not get an item, make sure you rotate out who did not each time. The number of magic items handed out each level is (X-1), where X is the number of PCs. Now sometimes, a PC might be due for an upgrade, but they like the enchantment that they currently have on their weapon. What you could do is just add the "sell value" of their old weapon to gold gained, and allow the weapon's bonus to increase, perhaps by defeating a thematically appropriate monster. Example: one of my PCs was a Warlord and had a +1 Frost Warhammer. He liked Frost, and while the rest of the party was starting to get their +2 weapons and implements, he did not want a different weapon. So when they defeated a powerful Cold-themed monster, I informed him that his weapon had absorbed some of the monster's power, and was now a +2 Frost Warhammer.

    I think that's enough for one post.
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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    My 2cp (and keeping it short) - DM side of things

    You have about 500% more time to focus on story with regards to prep-time. Even as an expert 3.5 DM and a new 4e DM. It's that much easier to deal with the numbers. I'm not kidding.

    A major difference from 3.5e : if you're in a "dungeon", in 3.5, you walk the players through each room, corridor. There could be 2 rats over there and 1 orc over here, etc. Scrap this approach.(*)
    *you can still do this if you want, but it'll feel a good deal more like a board game than a role playing game.

    In 4e, you want a section of the dungeon as an encounter. Everything is in the same space (you can use 3e adventures almost as written - done it quite a few times myself to good effect), but you engage with all of it at once.

    Also,
    Use the "Skill Challenge" approach as a guideline. A thing I've found that works really well is to "minionize" foes as a reward for prior successes/investment.

    Spoiler: As an example in play
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    Forge of Fury: the players have spent resources researching legends and stories about the Forge and have gotten a couple of successes, but also a failure. After finding the general location of the Forge, they spend a bit of effort into scouting the area and talking to locals to get the most recent rumours about the area.

    When they make their approach to the gates proper, their prior research pays off in the form of an easier Stealth check to avoid notice (which they knew needed to be done from their scouting and gathering of information) since they have a basic understanding of the door's position and where the sighting spots could be.

    They succeed on their approach (group Stealth check). They spot the sentries (Perception) and know there is a very good chance of more on the inside.

    Having succeeded in the Skill Challenge, when they attack with surprise, the orc sentries are defeated in a single blow, the doors open easily and the sentries inside also fall to single blows, taken completely off guard (many don't even have their weapons or shields in hand). They also know about the "secret area" and think they know a certain way to stop the sentry from alerting the rest of the Forge... However, to reflect their failure earlier, a PC mistakenly actives a trap that fires arrows into the room thinking it to be a lock on the secret section. They still manage to head off the sentry : It doesn't spoil their success at storming the fortress, but it does hurt a bit. ;)

    If I'd use the "standard" orc, the scene would have been much slower and there's no real way the players could have prevented the sentry from alerting the Forge (barring ridiculous luck on super nova strikes). Something much more likely to occur in 3.5 by nature of the system (if they have a few spellcasters, of course;) ).

    All of this is not to say, you must use this approach. This is only to say, that 4e plays best when you go for a more "cinematic/story logic". IMO, of course.
    Last edited by MoutonRustique; 2019-08-12 at 12:52 PM.
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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Some advice, though, on running a game: The game does assume a certain amount of magical gear to stay relevant. Especially Armor slot items, Neck slot items (boost to NADs), and Weapons/Implements. While using the "Wish List" system may seem a little too "gamist" for some, I will remind anyone reading this that it is narratively always cool and exciting for the party to find things they can use. When Driz'zt defeated the white dragon Icingdeath, did he find a magic weapon weapon he could not or did not use, or did he find a magic scimitar? One thing the Wish List system always does is leaves out one party member getting an item each level, but most 4e systems assume that "Magic Item Shops" are a thing, at least for Common and Uncommon magic items. I don't remember if the books state this explicitly, but what always worked for me was to have a Wish List from the party at each level (expressed as n), each person asks for one item of each level for (n + 1) to (n + 5). Then you, the DM, pick the items for your treasure allocation. One PC each level will not get an item, make sure you rotate out who did not each time. The number of magic items handed out each level is (X-1), where X is the number of PCs. Now sometimes, a PC might be due for an upgrade, but they like the enchantment that they currently have on their weapon. What you could do is just add the "sell value" of their old weapon to gold gained, and allow the weapon's bonus to increase, perhaps by defeating a thematically appropriate monster. Example: one of my PCs was a Warlord and had a +1 Frost Warhammer. He liked Frost, and while the rest of the party was starting to get their +2 weapons and implements, he did not want a different weapon. So when they defeated a powerful Cold-themed monster, I informed him that his weapon had absorbed some of the monster's power, and was now a +2 Frost Warhammer.
    Seconding this, it can actually be really cool to have stuff like this happen. For example, this is one from a game I'm in that we got after defeating essentially a small time crime boss
    A small cupboard under the bar that is weirdly cool inside. Upon closer inspection, it could be dismantled and its components used to upgrade a nonmagical weapon, or a magical +1 Frost Weapon to a +2 Frost Weapon. Or you could pry it loose and continue using it as a portable cooler (Sort-of Reserved for Rivers)
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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Some of the most fun things in 4e is getting player character combos going on. More so than any other edition this is fun to pull off and the game is designed to do it.

    For example if your players have a artful dodger rogue and a fighter if they are close together that rogue gets a bonus to AC vs opportunity attacks so the rogue may decide to provoke an opportunity attack from an enemy the fighter has marked since doing so allows the fighter to make an extra attack and the enemy will have a lot of trouble hitting with that attack. Getting movement powers so you can rearrange the battlefield can be a lot of fun as well. If you have a player that likes setting things up suggest many of the leader classes like warlord, bard, or artificer as they will likely give them a lot of chances of really changing the battle.
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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Minions are the best thing that happened to DnD combat encounters since the invention of the healing potion.

    Nuff said.

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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Iíll build on what others have said, as I certainly agree. 4e combat is known for being slow, and there is some truth to this, but there are some things you can do about it. Power cards for players are good, particularly if the math is spelled out ahead of time. Donít have them write dex vs ac and have to remember to add weapon proficiency every time. Just write +7 vs AC. This will cut down on time spent at the table doing math rather than making decisions and role playing.

    As a DM, I do fewer rooms with small, minor combats. The large dungeon section method above works well. Also feel free to use fewer, but bigger and more elaborate combats. Make sure thereís a lot of terrain, moving pieces, room to move, and things to interact with. Most of all, donít worry about how long combats take, worry about how much time you arenít spending having fun. If every fight is big and epic, no one will care if it lasts all night.

    My favorite aspect of the relative similarity of the different classes is that character concept is not linked to complexity of play. A veteran player will be able to do interesting, tactical things with a fighter; meanwhile the new player can pick up an invoker and throw magic across the battlefield with relative ease.

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    Default Re: 4th Edition DnD

    Quote Originally Posted by MoutonRustique View Post
    to "minionize" foes as a reward for prior successes/investment.
    I've not seen that done but it's a great idea
    Our GM did the "2 rats and one orc over there" and it did feel very much like a board game (which some of our players quite liked).

    Combats will take longer - Where in older D&D, some characters are just going say "I hit it for 20 points of damage", in 4th ed, most likely everyone will be deciding which power to use, and if it hits it will do damage and something else, even if it misses it might do something. Especially for more advanced characters.
    Make use of the power cards (as noted above)
    Make sure everyone has a system to keep track of the effects on their character. Make sure you have a system to keep track of the effects on a monster. We were TPKed in late paragon (around 18th level. Monsters routinely had 1/2 dozen effects on them - marked by the paladin, cursed by the warlock (same character (mine)), some sort of debuff from the monk and a different one from the bard, some shenangans from the Runpreist/artifacer. And that's before anyone breaks out encounter and daily powers.

    Don't expect the rules to always make sense as written, don't expect the fluff to fit the mechanics - If the fighter grabs the swarm of insects and drags it across the map, you can go with it (Shrug), you can refluff the power on the fly or you can say "That's silly. it doesn't work" and accept that you're making the fighter's power less effective than the game would assume. Same insect swarm can be blinded by the rogue putting a slash above their eyes so blood flows into the eyes. One fighter power slides the enemy into the square you just left, another one pulls them next to you. The different keywords mean different feats/items/etc affect them. And you can knock a jelly prone. Shrug. This! Is! 4th Ed!

    It will make more difference whether the party has a range of character types. If you don't have a defender, a leader and a striker (at least) your party will find fights harder than if they do. If you have 4 or more players, you probably want all 4 roles covered.

    There's a lot of moving parts available in character creation. I strongly recommend players only building a vague idea of the character they want before they start. While you *can* build almost any concept you want, some of them require a fair bit of rule knowledge

    also, edit to add...

    Also, from a related thread, this is good summary of the best thing about 4th ed is the support for teamwork:
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...un-Learning-4e

    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticallyPsyco View Post
    (snip) Second, my play experience with 4e had a really high concentration of 'memorable moments'. The tactical, often movement or cooperation based powers mean it's really easy to pull off a cool trick. Coordinating the team to shove every enemy into the same 5ft campfire, exploiting the terrain to keep enemies moving past the defender if they want to reach you, being the arrow in the knee archer and ruining the boss's adventuring career first turn, lobbing the gnome into suspected ambushes and then teleporting him back out, sliding the paladin back a step so he can charge on his turn... (snip)
    Last edited by Duff; 2019-10-03 at 07:46 PM.
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