What is the essence of 4E? - Page 9
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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    I would say there's just no question that GM who is insisting on this sort of encounter is playing 4e sub-optimally. Why not have an encounter with slightly higher level enemies? Or create some minions of the correct level (a minion of level+8 is IIRC the same XP as its standard equivalent). So if you have a level 12 encounter and a bunch of level 20 PCs, minionize the standards, and bulk it up with some level 20 standards, or a level 20 elite, or something. Now you have a more fun encounter.
    The DMG has rules for turning a level 12 standard into a level 20 standard, and the math is pretty trivial. I didn't see rules for turning a minion into a standard, or vice versa.

    The weird thing is that, it never occurred to me when I was running the game that changing the levels or grades of any of the monsters should be a thing, aside from giving a couple of extra levels to an orc in order to represent a more-experienced orc; but the idea that a level 5 solo could be re-statted as a level 10 elite or level 20 minion is something that I would consider to be quintessential of 4E, just from these message boards. Following my own definition from before, if I saw a new game which actually included rules for that, I would immediately assume that they were copying 4E.

    As for why I would even want to run an encounter full of level 12 enemies against a level 20 party, it's because that's how I would traditionally show that the party is getting stronger. If you're level 12, and you struggle to beat level 12 enemies, then walking all over them when you're level 20 is a very intuitive way to demonstrate how much more powerful you are. To contrast, if you're level 12 and you struggle to beat level 12 enemies, but then you get to level 20 and you struggle to beat level 20 enemies, it still just feels like you're struggling. (One of my early disappointments with 4E was realizing that my amazing hero character basically couldn't beat a standard orc in a fight; and it felt like a hollow victory to cleave my way through two minions with one swing, since I knew that they were explicitly designed to be easy for me to kill.)
    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    HS were just genius though as a pacing mechanism. Let the PCs go into each fight at 'full power', but ALSO be weakened. At the same time divorce healing from being a burden on one type of character, and yet don't just give it away to everyone in a way that negates resource management. Its actually HARDER to manage your HS and hit points in 4e in a tough tactical game than it is to manage the stock of CLWs, potions, and (assuming your players decide to be strategic) wands that make up 3e's single large pool of 'extra hit points'.
    The healing surge mechanic succeeded at what it was intended to do, which was (along with encounter powers) to ensure that nobody was out for the whole day after a single fight went south; (and also to make it so that nobody was forced to play a healer, and I guess also to prevent you from abusing wands or potions).

    It does assume that you want the PCs at full power in every fight, though, which can be somewhat limiting in the way you run the game. And it also assumes that you're going to have enough encounters in a day for the limit on healing surges to be meaningful, which can also be pretty limiting. Granted, there are still an infinite number of games that you can play within those parameters, but there was a bit of a learning curve involved, and not everybody was able to (or wanted to) make the transition.

  2. #82
    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    A problem that 4E had in its first year, even if it was fixed by the end of the second, can still be an essential aspect of the game to someone who stopped playing it in the intervening period.
    That's unfortunately true: You only have one chance to make a good first impression...

  3. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    A problem that 4E had in its first year, even if it was fixed by the end of the second, can still be an essential aspect of the game to someone who stopped playing it in the intervening period. This whole thread is a matter of perspectives and opinions.
    Essence is uncertain until death. 4e is dead we can be certain of its essence. A problem it solved or a virtue it abandoned cannot be part of that.

  4. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    This may not the thread for it, but I mentioned it in another thread.

    There is a very significant overlap in long term Star Wars fans/traditionalists and D&D (no surprise as these were two of the seminal zeitgeists of that era).

    I would think that one of the takeaways of 4e (essence) is:

    “Don’t piss off your traditionalist base.”

    4e was and has been relentlessly murdered for that.

    However, curiously, The Last Jedi was championed for just that (interestingly by some of the same crowd that has relentlessly attacked 4e) but put in pleasant terms such as “subverting expectations.”

    So I’m not sure that the “don’t alienate your base/piss off traditionalists” axiom is universal. It’s apparently not even universal among the significant D&D/Star Wars overlap!
    4e was a matter of direction. It tried to make 3.5 beter by fixing problems instead of building on strengths. That change of direction alienated their base.

    Pathfinder made 3.5 better by building on its strengths. Hopefully Pathfinder 2 will continue in that direction.

    5e just backed up from both those directions. It gave up most of what 3.5 Pathfinder and 4e had done. Like Disney throwing away all the lore outside the movies.

    Both worked.

  5. #85
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    @Ted Serious

    Thank you for the response, but perhaps the thrust of my post wasn’t clear (as your response doesn’t hook into it).

    I was commenting on the curiosity of the non-universal application of the “don’t piss off your traditionalist base” axiom.

    4e was routinely decried for its violation of it (we constantly heard the “New Coke” cautionary tale).

    Meanwhile, The Last Jedi (which carries the same “zeitgeist DNA as D&D) at least equally violated the axiom, yet some/many (who lambasted 4e for its violation of the axiom) lauded it for “subverting expectations.”

    My takeaway is that invocations of “don’t piss off your traditionalists/base” can’t possibly be the lesson to be learned. More like “do stuff I like or I’m going to be angry and wrap my anger up in justification that falls apart under scrutiny.”
    XP AbdulAlhazred gave XP for this post

  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    2) As I’ve said many times on these boards, it’s no coincidence that the folks who enjoyed 4e the most and who had the most success with it are GMs who have extensively run indie games that feature emergent story driven play via (closed) conflict-charged scenes as the exclusive locus of play. Those sorts of games don’t rely upon, or particularly play nice with, Adventure Path play. They require improvisational GMing that cuts to the thematic meat/action and stays there relentlessly, letting one scene evolve to the next. That is what 4e’s machinery was built to do (and it does extremely well).
    I'm curious whether you see this as a strength or a weakness... taking into consideration this was an edition of D&D and also whether you think 4e core did or didn't give enough guidance on this? Just so I'm being transparent... I didn't get this from the core rules of 4e at all. My take away from 4e core was that it was a very grid-based tactical game with a rigid (again this is from PHB 1) group skill system not used in D&D before...

  7. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    Meanwhile, The Last Jedi (which carries the same “zeitgeist DNA as D&D) at least equally violated the axiom, yet some/many (who lambasted 4e for its violation of the axiom) lauded it for “subverting expectations.”
    While your observation is interesting, I wonder where the 'Internet wants to remake The Last Jedi to prevent it from destroying Star Wars' fits into the observation.

    My takeaway is that invocations of “don’t piss off your traditionalists/base” can’t possibly be the lesson to be learned. More like “do stuff I like or I’m going to be angry and wrap my anger up in justification that falls apart under scrutiny.”
    See, I think this has exactly happened in Star Wars fandom, if you look at the right population of fans.

    There are definitely those who believe (I'm one of them) that 4E solved all the major problems of 3.5-era D&D (5-minute workday, linear-fighter-quadratic-wizard, etc.). There are also those who believe 4E nearly destroyed the D&D brand. At the risk of engaging in 'both-sides-ism', both parties can support their arguments, even if you as an individual find the two positions impossible to hold at the same time.

    This doesn't mean both sides are 'right', for whatever function of 'right' may be appropriate in this context.

    --
    Pauper
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  8. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imaro View Post
    I'm curious whether you see this as a strength or a weakness... taking into consideration this was an edition of D&D and also whether you think 4e core did or didn't give enough guidance on this? Just so I'm being transparent... I didn't get this from the core rules of 4e at all. My take away from 4e core was that it was a very grid-based tactical game with a rigid (again this is from PHB 1) group skill system not used in D&D before...
    My take is that DMG1 didn’t have nearly a clear enough voice (while DMG2, design articles, and Dungeon articles were all very consistent) . There was an editor problem or a “too many cooks in the kitchen” problem with the writing/handling of various chapters and instruction.

    While myself and others saw it clearly in various 4e game tech and instruction, there are many others who didn’t see it. If that is the case (and it clearly is given how many times we’ve had this discussion), then there is obviously fault on the side of the 4e DMG1 writers or editor. I don’t think that can be argued.

  9. #89
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    @Pauper

    I’m doing a poor job of communicating.

    There is clearly a large outcry over TLJ from SW traditionalists/the base. I’m not referring to them.

    I’m invoking a specific cross-section of folks who:

    1) Identify as part of the SW base.

    2) Identify as a part of the D&D base.

    3) Decried 4e for failure to embrace tradition/history and produce a game that appeals specifically (if not exclusively) to those interests; failure to meet entrenched expectations.

    4) Simultaneously lauded TLJ for “subverting expectations.”

    Hope that communicates more clearly.

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    @Pauper

    I’m doing a poor job of communicating.

    There is clearly a large outcry over TLJ from SW traditionalists/the base. I’m not referring to them.

    I’m invoking a specific cross-section of folks who:

    1) Identify as part of the SW base.

    2) Identify as a part of the D&D base.

    3) Decried 4e for failure to embrace tradition/history and produce a game that appeals specifically (if not exclusively) to those interests; failure to meet entrenched expectations.

    4) Simultaneously lauded TLJ for “subverting expectations.”

    Hope that communicates more clearly.
    I may fall into that category, but then I also fall into both of @Pauper's categories: I like the shakeup of TLJ, I think 4e solved 3e's problems, and I think 4e almost lost D&D's base by not respecting the traditionalists.

    Firstly, I don't think your prostulation is well formed to show a disparity in thinking. Star Wars is a narrative, D&D is a game used to create narratives. The change in Star Wars TLJ was to juggle a few of the tropes while largely adhering to the SW genre. 4e radically changed the underlying assumptions of how the game works. I do not think these are comparable.

    That said, the reason 4e had issues with market share wasn't because it was a based game; it wasn't. But it did radically alter the game assumptions to a hard scene framed narrative style with a hard tactical wargame alongside and failed to clearly make this case. Even in the later settlements (DMG2, etc) the shift wasn't clearly enunciated unless you were already assigned to it or had no previous experience worth D&D and so had no baseline assumptions. This made it very hard for the existing playerbase to adopt 4e. Paired with some poor choices in marketing that further alienated the existing base, 4e set itself up for limited success through poor communication.

    I stuck with 4e through DMG2 and should slightly before essentials. In that time, I never saw (or understood) the course shift to narrative play you immediately did through your experience. This was even a time I was looking at BW, so it wasn't Lee I want open to the concept. It just never clicked with 4e for me until much later reading these kinds of threads. So, no, I disagree that the shift was as obvious as you say. It's obvious once you clear the hurdle (although I think 4e wasn't designed thrust way, it just worked out as such and then embraced it), sure, but it's not an obvious hurdle. Nor one most were even looking for to begin with.

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