11 Reasons Why I Prefer D&D 4E
by, 28th August 2008 at 07:26 AM (5213 Views)
- No long-term advance planning for PC character development. No longer do players have to worry how precisely to build their characters at first level when they want to take a specific prestige class twelve levels later. Now they can take character advancement one level at a time.
- Easier high-level PC creation. Creating high-level PCs - whether to replace an existing character or to start a campaign at a high level in the first place - is now simplicity in itself. You do no longer have to worry about what choices your character made at lower level - thanks to retraining, it's easy to justify the current character feats, powers, and skills. Similarly, picking magic items is easy - you start with three items with specific levels, and have some spare cash over to purchase weaker items.
- Fighters are now actually interesting. In 3.5, Fighters usually did little more than doing the same attacks over and over again, and their only real tactical choices involved which enemy to hit. No longer - they now have a variety of options as large as that of the other classes.
- Less-complex high-level spellcasters. Once your player characters hit double digits, deciding which spells your high-level wizards, clerics, and druids choose every day became a real chore, and it frequently held up the game while the players of these characters made up their mind. No longer - even wizards, who still can make some choices in that regard, now spend much less time on figuring out their daily spell lists.
- No class is useless in a specific fight. Who doesn't know the frustration of a rogue in a fight that involved constructs or undead? Or of a monk in a fight that involved only monsters with the "wrong" type of damage resistance? Or of a wizard when all the enemies had high spell resistances? Some classes were pretty much ineffective against certain kinds of enemies, leaving their players frustrated when an adventure featured them strongly. This is now pretty much gone, and for this I am grateful.
- Rituals. Separating most of the non-combat spells into rituals was a stroke of genius. Now the list of available rituals can be modified at the DM's leisure without giving a specific class too much power or taking too much power away from it. It also makes it easier for world-builders - they no longer have to take hundreds of spell effects into account when figuring out how magic may have impacted society. Conversely, since you do no longer have to be a high-level member of a specific class when you want to cast specific rituals, it's easy to justify NPCs who can cast individual rituals without making them into powerful combat spellcasters, turning them into "support roles" within the adventure without having to explain why they don't defeat the enemies of the local community instead of the PCs.
- Skill challenges. Skill challenges are a blast to run. They allow the DM to say: "I think these skills would be the most appropriate in this situation, but feel free to convince me of the appropriateness of other skills at well." This allows the PCs to get really creative with their skill uses and gives them a level of narrative control that I was really surprised seeing in a D&D edition.
- Minions. Minions are lots of fun for the DM. They allow me to "swarm" the player characters without overwhelming them, or without making me keep track of the hit points of large numbers of enemies. Back in 3.5, having two dozen enemies attack the PCs at once was a logistic nightmare. Now, it's no problem at all.
- Easier high-level NPC creation. In D&D 3.5, I was so frustrated with how much time I spent on creating high-level NPCs - time I could have used on developing the actual plot of the adventure - that I even created a Wiki to have better access to a large number of NPCs (ironically, the wiki became a huge hit while I soon afterwards abandoned D&D 3.5 for other RPGs...). But now, creating high-level NPCs is even easier than creating high-level PCs. Thanks to the straightforward level bonus, calculating derived stats is a snap that doesn't even involve looking up a variety of tables, and giving them specific powers is a straightforward process which doesn't take up much time.
- Easier monster creation/modification. Building and modifying monsters now is much easier. For my playtest adventure, I built an Aufhocker, a fey creature from German mythology that jumps on the backs of people and frightens them to near-death, and I was astonished how easy the process was. 3.5 sorely lacked such detailed guidelines.
- In-depth discussion on building encounters and monster roles. The chapter on building encounters and monster roles in the DMG is one of the most impressive pieces of GMing advice I have seen in any RPG. The CRs in 3.5 were extremely vague in comparison. Lengthily explaining how different types of monsters interact with each other in a fight, and giving them according roles that they are built around irrespective of origin was a stroke of genius!