D&D 4th Edition Origins - Impressions of three 4E Events




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    ° Ignore subbob

    Origins - Impressions of three 4E Events

    My son and I played in seven D&D RPG events at Origins this past week. Three were 4E events, three in the Blackmoor (DAB) campaign and one using the Pathfinder rules. (not in that order, they were interspersed)

    Our first two 4E games were fun. But, they were both consisted of encounters separated by nothing. (No travel, no role playing, no discussion). The first 4E event was two encounters and the second we had three encounters. After those two experiences we were not very impressed.

    Then we played a custom adventure using the Pathfinder rules and an intro mod in the Blackmoor campaign (our first experience in the DAB setting). Both of those games were traditional D&D as we know it, including roleplaying, travel and quit a bit of "non-encounter" related gaming.

    We had some more open slots to fill on Saturday and Sunday. We registered for two more DAB sessions as we were in agreement that the 4E events, while "fun", were not truly satisfying.

    Then we played our third 4E adventure that showed that, with the right DM, the system can work. We had interactive roleplaying, non-encounter events, etc. The DM was VERY prepared and included several game assisting mechanisms I'd never seen used before. (e.g. status cards for characters that were dazed and stunned)

    The reason I caveat the statement above "with the right DM" is because it's my impression that the system is prone to type of gaming we experienced in our first two sessions. The DM in our last 4E event was very experienced and a highly talented DM. He brought that experience from past versions of D&D to 4E and made it work. I remain skeptical as to whether those lacking this experience will be able to do the same.

    For anyone that may question the motivations in writing this, I provide these observations as simply that - our observations. I have purchased the three core 4E books. We (my son and I) registered in the 4E events at Origins so that we could get exposed to the system. At GENCON we are only registered for Pathfinder events.

 

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    ° Ignore Mustrum_Ridcully
    I think this seems to be a general problem with the 4E "playtests" done on the various events - they are too light on role-playing, they focus too much on combat encounters. Maybe that's important, because the combat rules are new, but I am not sure if it's the best way to present a new edition.

    Paizo doesn't have to show off new rules (even with the Pathfinder Alpha, they don't), and can focus better on the storytelling part of the game.
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    ° Ignore Plane Sailing
    Interesting and not surprising to hear that your experience of various games was down to the adventure and the DM more than the mechanics, if I read you correctly.

    Naturally, nobody will take this thread as an opportunity for edition warz, but it might be interesting to consider the factors that make an adventure good rather than poor.

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    That's easy.

    Familiarity with the game system.

    It takes a while for anyone to get comfortable with a game system and then you actually get the roleplaying. Personally, Im thinking we'll see more opportunities as people get comfortable.

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    ° Ignore wolff96
    Quote Originally Posted by subbob View Post
    The reason I caveat the statement above "with the right DM" is because it's my impression that the system is prone to type of gaming we experienced in our first two sessions. The DM in our last 4E event was very experienced and a highly talented DM. He brought that experience from past versions of D&D to 4E and made it work. I remain skeptical as to whether those lacking this experience will be able to do the same.
    While I certainly don't dispute that a poor DM will make for a bad game -- which is true in any system -- I don't think 4E necessarily contributes in any way.

    In my Saturday group, a player that had previously DM'd only one session of a module has started running a campaign. It is completely home-brew, using the tips and tools out of the DMG. It is also one of the better games I have ever played in, especially given the DM's level of experience.

    Would she be as good with the same amount of time learning to run 3E? No idea. But I can guarantee that 4E didn't harm her DM skills in any way.

    The off-the-cuff skill challenge that ran for essentially an entire session while we smuggled one of our party members around the city would definitely be an example of the new system actually encouraging a new DM, IMO.

    (For anyone curious) We had several initial checks while we worked to get him into the city. Then we spent some time doing errands and talking to people within the city. Then we smuggled him around the city for a couple of things we needed to do inside city walls. Then we had to smuggle him out again at the end of the session. It was a Level 5 Challenge that kind of 'ran in the background' of the whole session whenever there was a chance that he might get caught -- and it was *BRILLIANT*. The rogue was using Streetwise to find back alleys and avoid people, the ranger was providing distractions, the fighter in question was using his stealth to slip through back alleys... and when all else failed, the Cleric managed to talk the guards out of reporting the fighter at one point. Not to mention that we disguised him as a leper to initially get him into the city...
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    ° Ignore Mustrum_Ridcully
    Quote Originally Posted by Plane Sailing View Post
    but it might be interesting to consider the factors that make an adventure good rather than poor.
    Indeed. That's the really interesting question.
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    ° Ignore Rechan
    I think it's not a fair comparison to say that 4e "lends itself" to that type of gameplay.

    I've never been in a 'fast forward to the fight' game beyond a demo. Never. Ever. And I do not expect that to ever happen in 4e, either.

    What you are seeing are people giving combat demos to illustrate the rules and how they differ from the previous edition. You see people wanting to put them through the ringer. Play with things. I, for instance, am very amped up to use certain monsters. I might want to playtest them, or just have some sample fights to get warmed up.

    But I would never, ever just play 4e Fight Club. Even if I was playing a game that centered around gladitorial combat, I would be doing the before and after RP too.

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    ° Ignore subbob
    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan View Post
    What you are seeing are people giving combat demos to illustrate the rules and how they differ from the previous edition. You see people wanting to put them through the ringer. Play with things.
    You raise a good point and one that could very well have been behind why the adventures we participated in turned out the way they did.

    The encounters seemed to take a lot longer than what I am used to. It's very difficult to differentiate whether that was a result of the mechanics themselves, or because of the relative unfamiliarity we all had with the rules and the mechanics.

    Something I just recalled from the third experience - the DM explained ahead of time it was going to be a tournament style play (due to fixed time window). His policy was that each character should know what they were going to do when it came to their turn in the initiative order. If they hesitated significantly, or were unsure, he'd have them delay and move on to the next person.

    The manner in which he did it was not overbearing, but it did institute a discipline on the players. I'm sure that this also contributed to us being able to do more in that session than the other two.

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    ° Ignore exile
    I must say that my experience with 4E gameplay at Origins pretty much echoes that of the OP. It may not be fair to say that 4E "lends itself" to a certain type of gameplay, but it was my impression that it does. In all fairness, I did only play in 4E Delve events and the D&D Championship Qualifier. The Delve events, as has been stated previously, exist pretty much to show off the rules (the combat rules in particular as their were no skill challenges). The Championship Qualifier suffered from the same problem that other such events have suffered from in my experience, the sacrifice of role-playing in favor of making hasty progress towards a goal. I'm eager to play 4E soem more at Gen Con, perhaps the Living FR events, to see if I can be swayed further in favor of thenew system.

    Chad

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    ° Ignore Morrus
    The playtest adventures are written like that; that doesn't mean that real adventures will be or that any you write yourself will be. The adventure's the adventure.

    I've run them all, and they were all like that; had I felt inclined, I could have hashed somehting better together, but as it was they're really just a display of the combat system.

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