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View Poll Results: *IF* you have read through 4e, how do you feel about the new edition?

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  • I love the new edition.

    32 23.70%
  • I like it.

    40 29.63%
  • Take it or leave it, doesn't matter to me.

    27 20.00%
  • I don't like it.

    23 17.04%
  • I hate it to the core of my being.

    13 9.63%
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Thread: 4e Initial Impressions...

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    4e Initial Impressions...

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    Okay, so D&D 4e is officially out now and I spent about an hour this evening at Barnes & Noble thumbing through copies of the 3 core books to gather my initial, knee-jerk reactions to 4e. Here's what's been going through my head:

    PCs (and apparently monsters as well) are a bit more capable/powerful than they used to be. Not really wildly overpowered, but definately a cut above what characters were capable of in previous editions.

    I know so very little about them and yet I'm really finding the idea of the At Will/Encounter/Daily talents very appealing. They are essentially equivalent to "Talents" from Star Wars Saga with minimum level requirements. I am very much liking the idea that there is a large selection of talents to choose from for each class, but the actual number a character has is kept small enough to be managable. Even at 30th level, a character will only have 2 At Will Powers, 4 Encounter Powers, 4 Daily Powers and 7 Utility Powers. I also like that this limited size of array is balanced by the fact that at certain levels, you can swap out one or more of your powers for new ones, encouraging experimentation and allowing for a change in tactics. So far, this is definately scoring points with me.

    I like the condensed skill list. There are now 17 skills, fairly similar to the skill list from Star Wars Saga as I recall. They also use Saga's concept of "Trained or Untrained" skill levels. I like this. No individual skill ranks, you just pick which skills your character is trained in. So far, I think skills have been nicely cleaned up.

    The races are surprisingly and refreshingly straightforward and none seem unbalanced. Even Dragonborn, who I was afraid would reek of munchkinism, are actually nicely and simply done. Their special schtick is the ability to take a very modest breath weapon as one of their Encounter powers. Thumbs up to WotC for making me believe that a "dragon-type" PC can actually work without ruining the game.

    Defense scores a la Star Wars Saga are also a welcome change in my eyes, if only because my (admittedly limited) experience tells me that they run more smoothly than Saving Throws.

    Characters will end up with A LOT of attribute points! Seriously, all races except Humans get +2 to two different attributes and about every 4 levels a character gets to put 1 point in two different attributes. On top of that, at levels 11 and 21, they add 1 to all their attributes! Yikes! Though many (maybe most) powers are modified by attributes now, so that may not be such a bad thing. Also, they will probably need those bumps to survive against nastier monsters.

    Didn't get to look too closely at feats, but they seemed to be pretty standard fare. They are broken down into tiers based on the character advancement tiers. You have basic feats, "Paragon Feats" which can only be taken at level 10 (11?), and "Epic Feats" which can be taken at level 20 (21?). Character progression spans levels 1-30 in the PHB which is nice. No need for an "Epic Level Handbook" until you want to player characters beyond 30.

    I find myself quite liking the idea of the new crit rules. A natural "20" automatically hits (just as it always did), and if the attack roll is high enough to hit the target's AC, you crit and do max damage for the attack. So if you hit with a 1d8+5 attack, that crit would do 13 damage. Nice, clean, simple and helps avoid those cases of rolling all "1s" on your crit damage.

    The art throughout the books is pretty consistently awesome, especially the Monster Manual. Seeing the illustration of the Gnolls virtually cried out to me to run an encounter using them. The MM seemed pretty well packed full of monsters, though I hurried through the book pretty quick and so couldn't comment on what I felt should or shouldn't have been included. Plenty of staples were there though: dragons, orcs, goblins, kobolds, lizardfolk, gnolls, trolls, orges, giants, liches, zombies, vampires, elementals, demons and devils and fiends (seemed to be a lot of those type of creatures). I like the icons for easy stat block navigation. A little sword symbol tells you it's a melee attack. A little bow symbol tells you it's a ranged attack. Very cleverly done and pleasing to the eye.

    The overall layout of the books is pretty excellent and a welcome change from the style of the 3.X books. The pages are bright and clean, with no distracting background patterns to muddle reading or strain the eye. Most headings are called out in boldly colored header bars. Tables are nicely done and easy to read. The main text font is just the right size to be legible but not wasteful of space. The overall color scheme of the book and the beautiful style and texture of the covers are very attractive.

    Well, there you have it. As I was there flipping through them, I actually had to talk myself out of an impulse by of the PHB for further study. I've not had to talk myself out of purchasing a D&D book (because I've not had the desire to purchase a D&D book) since the release of Tome & Blood. The game has me very curious, and quite interested at looking at it more closely. Given the opportunity to play in a 4e game at this point, I would definately try it in order to see how the game actually behaves at the table...because I'm cautiously optimistic at this point. If current perceived trend continues, 4e may actually make D&D tolerable for me again. I shall report again when I have had a chance to apply further study.
    HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post
    I find myself quite liking the idea of the new crit rules. A natural "20" automatically hits (just as it always did), and if the attack roll is high enough to hit the target's AC, you crit and do max damage for the attack. So if you hit with a 1d8+5 attack, that crit would do 13 damage. Nice, clean, simple and helps avoid those cases of rolling all "1s" on your crit damage.
    This was a nice compromise between "20 is always a crit" and confirming crits.

    Now, if you need a 19 to hit (i.e you're over your head), every other hit will be a crit, so someone who only has a 10 percent chance to hit will crit every other hit. If you need a 2 to hit, you will crit with just over 5 percent of your hits, so the blows that an experienced warrior lands will crit less often than those of a less experienced one. Doesn't make sense, but it makes for a faster, more fun game, which is more important.

    I'm waiting to see the game in action at the middle and higher levels to see if the powers system is too complicated. It seems to me that the more abilities you had, the less often you remembered to use them (like the various races' bonuses against particular monster types), but with them all listed out in one place, it should be easier to remember "duh, daily power is the right choice here." Hopefully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valdar View Post
    I'm waiting to see the game in action at the middle and higher levels to see if the powers system is too complicated. It seems to me that the more abilities you had, the less often you remembered to use them (like the various races' bonuses against particular monster types), but with them all listed out in one place, it should be easier to remember "duh, daily power is the right choice here." Hopefully.
    There are a limit on how many powers you can pick at each level, meaning if you get a new power, but don't get an additional slot to add it to the list, you have to replace an earlier (and most likely less powerful) power. I think that should keep it much more managable. You will still get to keep more and more as you raise in level, but you'll have the time to learn how to use what you have before you advance, and therefore should be comfortable with some additional complexity

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    There are a limit on how many powers you can pick at each level, meaning if you get a new power, but don't get an additional slot to add it to the list, you have to replace an earlier (and most likely less powerful) power. I think that should keep it much more managable. You will still get to keep more and more as you raise in level, but you'll have the time to learn how to use what you have before you advance, and therefore should be comfortable with some additional complexity
    Yes. I like this very much. It allows characters to steadily gain new and more potent powers without leaving high-level PCs with lists upon lists of powers to choose from. As mentioned above, even a 30th level character will only have 2/4/4/7 in terms of how many At Will/Encounter/Daily/Utility powers they can have. In theory, this should help keep the game managable.
    HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD
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    Certainly beats trying to manage a high level spellcaster in 3.5 with gads of magic items, levels in multiple classes and a prestige class or two.

    From a DM's perspective, it will be a dream to be able to put together a 15th level bad guy NPC using the 4e system. So much easier.

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

    If you are in the DC metro area and like to trade D&D minis (1.0 or 2.0), please send me a PM!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    Certainly beats trying to manage a high level spellcaster in 3.5 with gads of magic items, levels in multiple classes and a prestige class or two.

    From a DM's perspective, it will be a dream to be able to put together a 15th level bad guy NPC using the 4e system. So much easier.
    I agree. I'm also encouraged to see that they are trying to make magic items a lesser part of your character's "equation". I've always found the reliance upon gobs of magic items to be a bit obnoxious. Haven't delved into the magic items too much yet. Need some more time with them to really solidify my opinion.
    HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD
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    I played in my second 4th edition demo, plus we did a kill-the-dragon fight fest. I also got my hands on the books and spent some quality time flipping through them, though I certainly have not read them all.

    My initial impressions:

    1. This is the most graphically and editorially proficient version of D&D ever published.

    The books are beautiful. They are well organized. They are clean and obviously well play-tested. In actual play, complex questions of 'how does x' work were answered easily and quickly by people who had bought the book 15 minutes ago. Impressive.

    This is not a game about fluff and background. You only think you own fluff-light, crunch-focused rule books. D&D 4th will show you what a truly rules focused RPG looks like.

    2. Here is the love it or hate it question for D&D 4th.

    Should every PC have magic powers even at first level?

    If your answer is 'Oh yeah! That sounds cool!' D&D 4th is the game for you. If your answer is 'What?! Hell no! Players have to earn those powers! And fighters! Fighters should never get them!' (or something similar) -- you should look elsewhere. This game will frustrate the hell out of you.

    D&D 4th edition is damn near a game of fantasy super heroes.

    3. There is a lot of brilliant game design here. Emphasis on GAME.

    Action points are tactically interesting. Crits are elegant. Saving throws are simple and direct. Defense are simple and versatile. Teamwork is essential (this is definitely a game you can get better at!). Fights are incredibly mobile, fluid and furious. As an example, today I saw a group of heroes gang up and try to force a dragon out of magic healing circle using desperate push maneuvers so they could finally take it down. These were not high level heroes -- this was an example of level one play. All in all, great game play in the sense of playing a tactical miniatures game.

    BUT... (and its a big but)

    None of the demos I saw had any substantial roleplaying in them. And in my granted very cursory examination of the game, I saw an RPG immensely focused on combat and oh, yeah, I guess some roleplaying is possible. WotC has greatly deemphasized roleplaying. Rules-as-written this is a game about tactical battles. Yes, you can still have lots of roleplaying depth and intrigue if you choose. Just don't expect a lot of help from the system.

    So, to sum up -- D&D 4th edition is a lot of fun to play. And I have no doubt it will have a profound impact on game design for many years to come. But this game is perhaps the most perfectly gamist (in the GNS sense of the word) RPG ever written. If you are looking for something at all narrativist, this game is likely a poor fit.

    That is my initial impression. We'll see if it holds up to a full reading of all three core rule books.

    Gary

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    I Play D&D and am a Role-Player

    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    None of the demos I saw had any substantial roleplaying in them. And in my granted very cursory examination of the game, I saw an RPG immensely focused on combat and oh, yeah, I guess some roleplaying is possible. WotC has greatly deemphasized roleplaying. Rules-as-written this is a game about tactical battles. Yes, you can still have lots of roleplaying depth and intrigue if you choose. Just don't expect a lot of help from the system.
    The above is perhaps the heart of so many discussions in regards to 4E.

    What is a “Character Sheet” but a set of “Game System Characteristics” that give a Player a quantifiable description on how easy or hard is for his PC to overcome a “Conflict”.

    Let’s use Battletech as an analogy, your sheet and the rules book will definitely tell you, how much firepower you have, mobility, armor, etc. If you put everybody in a Flat-Barren Terrain you can hardly say all Mechs are equally powerful or balanced. But once you add Hills, Lakes, Rivers, Buildings, a team of opponents (Aircrafts, Tanks and Mechs) that is when STRATEGY takes over.

    So, in D&D when you present your players with a World with Societies who could be mercantile or militaristic, Peasants with friends and rivals, Nobles with ambitions and piety, Intelligent Villains and Savage Monsters, is in that environment that ROLEPLAYING flourishes.

    I don't buy the idea of a Game System encouraging or discouraging "Role-playing". That is not the purpose of the Game Mechanics in the first place. And to think that the "Role-playing" ability of the players can be suppressed by the System is to give them too little credit. So all the whining of D&D or 4E being a cage for the "True Roleplayer" in my opinion is pointless.

    Now, an inspired mind may be able to write a book on how to create scenarios, manage different scenes, plot development, when to rush the players and when to move them slowly, how to create tense situations, how to scare or horrify the PCs and the Players. I am pretty sure such book would be 100% useful regardless of the RPG you are playing.

    But in the meantime, we have the internet; we have meetups and conventions and our own experience to fully/partially achieve the above.

    .
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    New people will do as does the system. If the system does not emphasize role-paying you will have a miniature tactical game, and that is exactly what you have, a miniature tactical game.

    Calling 4e D&D a role-playing game is nearly the travesty of the concept as calling WoW a role-playing game.

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    Check out the non-combat encounter system in 4e. Compare it to the single roll of a d20 for anything not combat-related from previous editions. Now explain to me why 4e is more of a tactical miniatures game than 3e and earlier systems. I can accept that the demos for 4e didn't have non-combat encounters in them, but a combat demo of 4e doesn't mean that 4e is a combat game. There are better rules for non-combat encounters in 4e than in any other game I've ever seen.

    What would make 4e more of a roleplaying game for you, if not this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post

    Now, an inspired mind may be able to write a book on how to create scenarios, manage different scenes, plot development, when to rush the players and when to move them slowly, how to create tense situations, how to scare or horrify the PCs and the Players. I am pretty sure such book would be 100% useful regardless of the RPG you are playing.
    .
    Have you read the 4e DMG? The above quote is a very good description of it.
    Last edited by Valdar; 06-08-2008 at 08:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valdar View Post
    "Dimthar's Quote: Now, an inspired mind may be able to write a book on how to create scenarios, manage different scenes, plot development, when to rush the players and when to move them slowly, how to create tense situations, how to scare or horrify the PCs and the Players.... End of Quote"

    Have you read the 4e DMG? The above quote is a very good description of it.
    Truth is Yesterday I only quickly browsed through the Players Handbook, for some reason I assumed the DMG would not be so different from the 3.X and the AD&D version.

    Valdar, Could you please elaborate what are the major changes for the DMG and why is that it fits “My Quote”?. Certainly such change will be very welcome and it would help New Players (DMs) if that is the case.

    Or anyone else who has an opinion / review on the DMG?

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=NXrA0IAxpfQ

    http://dnd4.blogspot.com/2008/05/dun...ers-guide.html

    .
    Saluti
    Carlos

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    I can't really speak of the changes between 3e and 4e, since I don't have a 3e DMG handy, but most of the 4e DMG is a guide about how to be a good DM- it seems to me to speak more toward the art of DMing rather than lots of specific rules. Interesting to note that the DMG is much thinner than the PHB, since so many rules have been moved to the PHB. Here's a breakdown of what's in it:

    Chapter 1: How to be a DM. Defines eight player types, and how best to engage them in the game and avoid typical problems.

    Chapter 2: Running the game. Lots of info on how to be a good dm, including an explicit mention of the "rule of yes".

    Chapter 3: Combat Encounters. I'm guessing this one is pretty similar to 3e: Ways to simplify tracking multiple monsters, improvising actions, effects of terrain, aquatic and aerial combat, mounted combat, disease, poison.

    Chapter 4: Building Encounters. Encounters are now created on an XP budget rather than a CR; a typical encounter is the same number of monsters as party members, at the party's level, with descriptions on how to change that up. Encounter settings.

    Chapter 5: Noncombat Encounters. Skill challenges, puzzles, traps/hazards. Anyone saying that 4e is a combat simulator needs to read the Skill Challenges section. Includes an example skill challenge: one round of convincing a Duke to give the party aid- the encounter engages the entire party, who all use their skills of choice in order to succeed. Other example skill challenges are social or research tasks.

    Chapter 6: Adventures. Using modules and fixing the problems thereof, such as keeping the party on course. Notes that you shouldn't try too hard to keep the party on task, since if they're not interested, you should let them do something else. Adventure structure, with examples of good (choices, challenges) and bad (bottlenecking, railroading). Designing quests. Adventure settings (underground, wilderness, civilized, planar; inhabitants, history, environment, atmosphere.) Cast of characters.

    Chapter 7: Rewards. XP, Action points, Treasure. A big change here is that the magic items are in the PHB, not the DMG.

    Chapter 8: Campaigns. Campaign themes, genres, story, foreshadowing. What to do in each tier. Ending a campaign.

    Chapter 9: The World. Assumptions about the Points of Light setting. On the world map, it says that there will be no world map in any core D&D book, and it's up to the DM to create one (page 151: "It's Your World.") Environmental dangers, starvation, thirst, suffocation, the planes, the gods. Artifacts, which are now essentially NPCs with agendas, rather than uber-treasure.

    Chapter 10: The DM's Toolbox. Customizing and creating monsters, NPCs, creating house-rules, random dungeons and encounters. Includes templates for things like Vampire Lord and Lich.

    Chapter 11: Fallcrest. Example city.

    So, in sum, no player needs this book- everything the player needs to know is in the PHB. In fact, a good, experienced DM could probably get by without this book (very little of it is rules), although I think even veteran DMs could glean a thing or two from it.
    Last edited by Valdar; 06-08-2008 at 11:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    If your answer is 'Oh yeah! That sounds cool!' D&D 4th is the game for you. If your answer is 'What?! Hell no! Players have to earn those powers! And fighters! Fighters should never get them!' (or something similar) -- you should look elsewhere. This game will frustrate the hell out of you.

    D&D 4th edition is damn near a game of fantasy super heroes.
    i think that description is enough to let me save $100. thanks for the heads up
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    Quote Originally Posted by agoraderek View Post
    i think that description is enough to let me save $100. thanks for the heads up
    As I've stated ad nauseam, I've never been enamored with any version of D&D (compared to The Fantasy Trip, GURPS, various versions of BRP, FATE, etc.) ... but I'm spending $25 on the PHB simply out of self-defense. Sooner or later I'll likely end up in a 4e game (as I ended up in a 3.5 game a couple of years ago). Plus, as a compulsive rules-tweaker I'd like to see what I can learn from 4e, even if it's "Don't let this happen to you ..."

    Granted, I've yet to get the PHB yet -- I chose Delivery by Hobo to save money -- but it sounds like 4e could use FATE's Aspects, PDQs Qualities, or something similar to give characters a personality outside of the dungeon.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
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    Quote Originally Posted by agoraderek View Post
    i think that description is enough to let me save $100. thanks for the heads up
    Glad to be of service.

    I certainly wasn't trying to discourage anyone from buying 4th edition. Instead, I have been doing my level best to report the game as I experienced it in the tiny little slice of time I have spent playing it.

    But I do easily see how D&D 4th edition is not everyone's cup of tea.

    Gary

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