View Full Version : A Dungeon Masters Prospective on 4th

06-19-2008, 12:52 PM
I am interested to know what Real DMs think about 4th. I want the opinions of actual Dungeons and Dragons Dms. As much as i like many other systems i think one of the big things about fourth is that as good a bourd game as it could be it does not feel or play liek actual D&D.

06-19-2008, 02:00 PM
I am interested to know what Real DMs think about 4th. I want the opinions of actual Dungeons and Dragons Dms. As much as i like many other systems i think one of the big things about fourth is that as good a bourd game as it could be it does not feel or play liek actual D&D.

I am going to try to run a 4e "test-drive" game here in the near future. I probably won't be able to do it this weekend, but I'm gonna try to get my brother and a couple of his friends to test it out with me the following weekend. I want to get a dependable sense as to whether or not it is fun to play and whether or not it still feels like D&D.

06-19-2008, 02:01 PM
I would comment if I could. I have run years of DnD beginning with Advanced, but not a smidge of 4e. I have not even played it.

I can say that I have had the opportunity to briefly play with one moderate and one extreme grid oriented groups for 3.5. Extreme meant all session, every session on that damn battle mat (the three I attended).

I do not understand even a fleeting interest in rolling dice just to see what numbers fall. Over and over again for hours on end (it was four hours at a time actually, but marathon sleepless multi-day games have felt oh so much shorter). The shallowest roleplaying (resolved with dice and always involving snippy, bitter NPC's that hate being interrupted) only as a means to the next combat where we spend hours worrying about who is where and which way they are facing and if you can stand in an almost full square formed by a round wall and if so if that has any effect on your...*yawn*... If 4e lends to that as well as 3.x then bah.

Unfortunately (for me I guess since they seemed perfectly content), I cannot imagine those people doing it differently with another system. I kept trying to understand. Surely they were just uncomfortable with a new guy (but I was the only odd man). Perhaps they just never really roleplayed before? Not likely with some having more years playing than me. Maybe someone just needed to encourage them? Nope, all efforts squashed on that front. They want to roll dice for everything. They might better enjoy just mock battles and skip the seemingly "mandatory" story. So I scratched my head, politely bowed out and went home.

So does that describe wargaming? Risk or Axis and Allies is my closest comparison and there you have competition following the same rules so I see the motivation.

Shadow Dweller
06-19-2008, 02:07 PM
Well, I'm a new DM, and I can tell you I won't touch this with a 10 ft pole, at least not right now. I'm too attached to 3.5, clunky combat and all, to want to jump ship for what I see as a incomplete(in some aspects) game that is more interested in trying to imulate the plethoria of MMO's out there than staying true to it's roots, at least as I see them.

06-19-2008, 02:28 PM
I'm still wrapping up my 3.5 campaign, but have played 4E. Next campaign I DM (next month) will be 4E for sure. Not exactly who you asked for, but close enough for me to hit reply.

I've been using miniatures in D&D combat since 2E, so for me the emphasis on using a board for combat in 4E is more like the D&D I've been doing, not less. Sure the mechanics are different, but it still boils to fighter swings, wizard casts, ranger shoots, rogue gets into position...now it's more interactive among the PCs what they do in combat. 4E combat is definitely better, not worse.

All the non-combat stuff. I don't see how that's been affected in a major way. There's some minor differences, but largely it's not been much of a change. The guy who stays in character all session stays in character, the combat junkie still patiently waits for the RP guy to get his jollies before the next initiative roll, the guy who wrote a three page background still tries to bait the DM into incorporating it into the game, etc. I don't notice much change there at all. Even the guy who always plays Elves loves that Elves are now more like he's been imagining them and isn't crying that what were once called High Elves now have a teleport ability and are called Eladrin. To him, the Elves in 4E are more Elven now.

I've always found Gnomes a bad PC choice for everyone else not playing the Gnome and even went so far as to make them extinct in my campaign world. I don't mourn their absence in the PHB.

Tiefling PCs have always been a rolleyes to me, that hasn't changed with them in the PHB.

I thought I'd rolleyes at the Dragonborn too, but I'm actually playing one. I enjoy the noble aspect of the creature.

Most players grumbled slightly before playing. After playing...everyone but the character optimization freak was very positive. Most the players I play with aren't looking to be uber powerful. They just don't want to be useless. 4E makes it easy for them to make a useful character in combat while being able to role-play as normal.

I've never played an MMORPG, so I guess borrowing elements from that don't offend me like it seems to do for some. If it works, I don't care where it came from.

06-19-2008, 04:35 PM
I've done a couple of "tutorial" fights during character generation sessions, and one full session to start a campaign.

The RP is pretty much the same as before. When I ask for a skill check, I get it much faster now because the skill list is half as long, and nobody has said a thing about how unrealistic it is that Listen and Spot are now the same skill.

Preparation is much faster, since monster stats are no more complicated than you need, despite being more interesting (The Kobold priest has a breath weapon, and bolsters the HP of its comrades- even the minions, who can then take a hit without dying...) I'd even used some custom monsters (level-reduced Dragonborn) that didn't take any time at all to modify using the DMG rules.

The combat is detailed enough to make tactical decisions possible, but not so detailed that the players are too confused to use tactics. Nobody's confused by opportunity attacks anymore, so they can make decisions about how to run across a battlefield without cracking the book open.

(Although there was a point that a Ranger was joking she should get her defense bonus from "opportunity attacks" from the Kobolds hurling spears at her from the top of the pit she had fallen into. I had to explain that while they were certainly being opportunistic, they weren't technically "opportunity attacks"...)

Combat is also much, much faster. Since attributes aren't going to be changing on the battlefield anymore, base modifiers for attacks are constant and never have to be re-figured, although there were plenty of situational modifiers being applied to shake things up.

I also had a talk with my most experienced player afterward about his impressions. He said that the biggest step forward is the at-will powers- Fighters are no longer taking their base attack for their entire careers, and Wizards aren't running out of spells and twiddling their thumbs. He's still waiting to make a decision on 4e- his biggest trepidation is that, if the game is like this at level 1, what happens to it when we gain a few levels?

Nobody at the table had a bad thing to say about the rules for the whole session. That to me is the biggest improvement over 3e.

06-19-2008, 08:21 PM
I've done a couple of "tutorial" fights during character generation sessions, and one full session to start a campaign...

Very encouraging report. Thanks for your input.

06-20-2008, 12:06 AM
Tiefling PCs have always been a rolleyes to me, that hasn't changed with them in the PHB.

I always thought the same way, but I'm making up a Tiefling character for an upcoming mini-campaign.

The GM and I came up with an interesting take: like many of the characters, my character is the child of a legendary Paladin and a redeemed blackguard, both human. However, as the ex-blackguard fought to supress or reject the infernal energies she had once embraced, some of them discharged into their first child, creating a Tiefling. I decided to make her a daughter just to try playing a female character once, and because it sets up an interesting dynamic with her mother.

Oriana has faced numerous challenges since birth. Her Tiefling heritage has made her the object of prejudice all her life. Her mother, in trying to protect her, has tried to shield her from that prejudice by dressing her in something close to a burka when she goes out in public, which young Oriana interpreted as being the "family shame" and a "freak". Also, being a Tiefling raises the question of her true parentage, even though nobody in the family doubts she's their father's daughter; as a result, even though she's first-born (and being a woman doesn't count against her), she's yielded all title to her younger brother.

Her relationship with her mother is also severely strained. Her mother tends to be close-mouthed about her past, and has her own dark side to contend with. As a result, her mother overcompensates to protect her "cursed" daughter from the influence of Evil, even to the point of denying her daughter's natural talent as a tactician and warrior. (As part of her mother's redemption, she has sworn against ever raising a weapon again.) The conflict between a frustrated Oriana and her overprotective mother, both of them with foul tempers, escalated from a chilly distance to secret rebellion to open rebellion to screaming matches with a chance of scattered violence.

At fourteen, Oriana ran away from home. Ten years later, after her father's funeral, she's reluctantly come back into their lives, a fledgling Warlord ... older, perhaps a little bit wiser, but still with a giant chip on her shoulder.

Besides ranting about my character concept, my point is that the right context can make even the most munchkin 4th Edition species and classes make sense. (Actually, I kind of like the orthodox "hell-tainted race scattered across the world" backstory as well.)

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
06-24-2008, 09:38 PM
I liked it. Didnt feel like DnD, at least not like the other editions, but it was a hit with our group of experienced players.


06-25-2008, 08:36 AM
Cool thanks guys. I will try and get my group to give it another shot and hope that i am proven wrong about all my misgivings of 4th but it will be hard. They really dont want to play it again. I may tell them that if they dont want to give it a two hour chance then one of them will have to run. Last time we played it it lasted two encounters before the first one looked up from the grids and said " Ok this was cool, can we play D&D now". The rest were not so nice.

06-25-2008, 02:21 PM
I am wrapping up a 3.5 campaign right now but will be starting a 4E campaign next. with the battle mats I never use them for anything but combat so there are no arguments about where each character is.