Thread: The Twelve Days of Th4enksgiving
22nd November 2012, 11:10 PM #1
The Twelve Days of Th4enksgiving
[Note: I was going to post this last night my time, when it was still 22 November, but there was some problem with the messageboard software. So, this first post is late. Nonetheless, I'm sure it's still 22 November somewhere in the world. ]
In line with the spirit of the season, I'm going to post twelve things I am thankful for about 4e, one post per day over the next twelve days. If you're a fan of 4e, feel free to chime in with your own Th4enksgiving posts as well!
Let's start with perhaps the best-known attribute of 4e: balance. 4e made it possible to play characters with very similar power structures and with abilities which, although different, were still quite close in effectiveness. 4e allowed the warriors to be just as quadratic as the wizards.
In addition to better balance between characters, 4e's understanding of the action economy and the power of extra actions also led to better balanced encounters. In particular, there was the recognition that monsters which were supposed to take on two or more PCs needed some way to gain additional actions or somehow make up for the action disparity between them and the PCs.
So, thank you, 4e, for balance.
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It's a Numbers Game
I'm thankful to the first design team who gave the math more than a perfunctory glance, recognized that D&D is a numbers game in addition to being a role playing experience, and then showed us the numbers behind the curtain. They may not have gotten the math 100% right, but thanks to them I can DM and house rule with confidence.
So thank you, 4th Edition, for Inherent Bonuses and the gift of transparency.
Inspired by Why 4e Fans Love 4e.
Last edited by Tequila Sunrise; 23rd November 2012 at 01:40 AM.
3. Easy Encounter Building
4th Edition made it really easy to build challenging, interesting encounters, and to know pretty well how they would play out at the table. No more accidental "this monster plays way above its CR" TPKs. Cause we've all had those, right? Dire wolves, anyone?
Your skill in reading has increased by 1.
2. Simple and Transparent Math
4e has a simple rule for relating the monsters' attack bonuses and defences with level: whenever you increase (or decrease) a monster's level, you should increase (or decrease) its attack bonuses and defences by the same amount.
4e is also transparent with respect to the rate at which the PCs' attack bonuses and defences are assumed to improve.
This combination of simplicity and transparency makes it easy to maintain game balance even if you decide to change some of the assumptions of the game. For example, if you decide not to hand out any magic items, this could be adjusted for in the following ways:
1. Give all PCs an inherent bonus equal to the bonus they would have gained from magic items.
2. Reduce the attack bonuses and defences of all monsters by [monster level/6, rounded to the nearest whole number].
3. Instead of using monsters of equal level, use monsters [PC level/6, rounded to the nearest whole number] levels below the PCs' level.
Similarly, if you want to make it more viable for PCs of different levels to adventure with each other, you could remove the half-level bonus to the PCs' bonuses and defences and lower the monsters' bonuses and defences by half monster level as well.
A combination of this and option 2 for removing magic items would actually be very similar to 5e's tenet of "bounded accuracy".
So, thank you, 4e, for simple and transparent math.
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I'm thankful that 4e allows any ability score to be an attack score -- i.e. that there are classes that roll attacks based on Constitution, or Charisma, or whatever.
This might seem to be a small thing but it has important ramifications for the game, not least of which is killing MAD(*) dead. (Mostly.)
(*) Multiple attribute dependency.
Still excited about 4th edition!
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Fie Upon "You Suck Now But He Sucks Later"
I'm thankful* that 4th Edition is of the opinion that instead of having wizards sucking at first level countered by fighters sucking at high level, that maybe wizards and fighters should be fun regardless of level, with rewarding tactical options that contribute to the party without overpowering it. No more being told you have to play the "beginner" class just because you want to fight face-to-face with no magical powers. Thank God we don't have to relive the nerd/jock idiocy from high school again.
Not every minute of a session in 4th Edition is guaranteed to be enjoyable. What it is, instead, is guaranteed to be potentially enjoyable. If you had a bad session, it was because you had a bad session, not because the game's yet to reach the level wizards are fun or because it outgrew your fighter and your PC sucks now. The problems are situational instead of baked into the level system, and far easier to solve when they appear.
The haters call 4E "the tyranny of fun." If fun is a monarch ruling over my game, then I say LONG LIVE KING FUN.
* Since I'm Canadian, I was also thankful for this one month ago
Although 4e is better known for the AEDU power structure utilized by many of its classes, it also has a great deal of flexibility in terms of character creation and development because there are usually multiple choices available whenever a character selects his powers. The feat-based multiclass system also makes it relatively simple to select powers from other classes.
Over time, this flexibility has only increased, either by making changes to the basic power structure, such as the Power Point system for psionic classes (apart from the monk), martial classes without daily attack powers, the Executioner assassin's preparation of poisons, and the Skald bard's spontaneous casting of daily attack powers, or by introducing new systems and concepts such as hybrid classes, skill powers, racial utility powers and themes.
So, thank you, 4e, for flexibility.
I don't like any of these things so far but I will keep an eye out for something we have in common, for the sake of 5e or whatever
Random When Appropriate
I'm thankful to finally have an edition where point buy stats are default, hit point gain is fixed, and all 1st level PCs can afford their basic gear. I'm thankful for the first DMG that advises DMs to give players magical toys they can actually use, rather than creating a Diablo-loot kind of minigame via random loot tables.
And I'm not necessarily talking about the ever-controversial wish list; the 4e DMG's relevant advice is "If nobody in the party uses a longbow, don't give them a magical longbow as loot." Brilliant!
So thank you, 4th Edition, for keeping die rolling within the actual game and out of the pregame!
4. Martial Power
In 4e, AEDU martial PCs are on par with their arcane, divine, primal, psionic and otherwise supernaturally-empowered compatriots in many ways. They have the same depth and complexity of tactical options, and they have the option to do more than simply attack and deal damage.
They can maneuver their enemies into disadvantageous positions, trip them, penalize their attacks and defences, daze them, stun them, blind them, and knock them unconscious.
They can also enhance their own mobility and defences, create openings for their allies to move and attack, and improve their companions' offensive and defensive abilities by inspiring them or providing advice.
If the default more abstract definition of hit points is used, martial PCs can even plausibly restore lost hit points: for themselves, by tapping on their own inner reserves of strength and willpower, and for others, by restoring their determination and fighting spirit.
In 4e, martial does not need to be mundane.
So, thank you, 4e, for martial power.