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D&D 4E 4E feats vs Essential Feats. A list?

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Well, perhaps errata doesn't cover the full text of the Rules Compendium (though I'm pretty certain that all functional changes have been addressed this way), but I was under the impression that every rules element (feats, powers, races...) changed by Heroes of X had been included in an errata document. Do you have any example of an exception to this?
An example? Alright. Let's use Axe Expertise for an example.

Better yet, let's get real specific here. I want to play an Avenger (which is not an Essentials character), and I want to take Axe Expertise (an Essentials feat) as one of my feats.

Axe Expertise is not listed anywhere in the errata, so there's no clear indication that it supersedes, replaces, or works in conjunction with any of the earlier edition feats or options that work similar to it. Naturally, we just make the assumption that it does. It seems logical, and its probably a safe assumption. Most of us might accept that, but its not guaranteed because there is no definitive source to give us an answer.

Let's further examine the scenario with a hypothetical. Let's say I'm the kind of person who decides for himself that I want to also take Weapon Expertise (Axe Group). In case anyone hasn't noticed, there is not a single reference in any Essentials products anywhere to content, materials, or rules that came prior to it. It doesn't mention Player's Handbooks, Dungeon Master's Guides, Monster Manuals, etc. Or I haven't found any, at least. I could reasonably argue that there is nothing to prevent me from doing so, unless the DM flat out decides not to allow it. Granted, it is well within the DMs right to reject the notion (and rightly so), but now we have a difference of opinions on what should and shouldn't be allowed because there is no clear, concise, and definitive answer for all of us. That is the confusion inherent in the Essentials line of products.

Try not to over-analyze the example because that's not the issue. We can discuss every instance of every example to find a reasonable solution for ourselves, obviously. The point is that we shouldn't need to, and that is where the Essentials line has failed for some of us. And for those who challenge that there really isn't any confusion out there, then whey do we keep seeing discussions like this one? The consensus of one's personal group or table does not necessarily reflect the greater community outside their circle.
 

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An example? Alright. Let's use Axe Expertise for an example.

Better yet, let's get real specific here. I want to play an Avenger (which is not an Essentials character), and I want to take Axe Expertise (an Essentials feat) as one of my feats.

Axe Expertise is not listed anywhere in the errata, so there's no clear indication that it supersedes, replaces, or works in conjunction with any of the earlier edition feats or options that work similar to it. Naturally, we just make the assumption that it does. It seems logical, and its probably a safe assumption. Most of us might accept that, but its not guaranteed because there is no definitive source to give us an answer.

Let's further examine the scenario with a hypothetical. Let's say I'm the kind of person who decides for himself that I want to also take Weapon Expertise (Axe Group). In case anyone hasn't noticed, there is not a single reference in any Essentials products anywhere to content, materials, or rules that came prior to it. It doesn't mention Player's Handbooks, Dungeon Master's Guides, Monster Manuals, etc. Or I haven't found any, at least. I could reasonably argue that there is nothing to prevent me from doing so, unless the DM flat out decides not to allow it. Granted, it is well within the DMs right to reject the notion (and rightly so), but now we have a difference of opinions on what should and shouldn't be allowed because there is no clear, concise, and definitive answer for all of us. That is the confusion inherent in the Essentials line of products.

Try not to over-analyze the example because that's not the issue. We can discuss every instance of every example to find a reasonable solution for ourselves, obviously. The point is that we shouldn't need to, and that is where the Essentials line has failed for some of us. And for those who challenge that there really isn't any confusion out there, then whey do we keep seeing discussions like this one? The consensus of one's personal group or table does not necessarily reflect the greater community outside their circle.

Well, WotC has said TIME AND TIME AGAIN, that Essentials material is just more 4e material. It isn't functionally any different from any splat book. You don't get confused because Arcane Power added some more options and AP doesn't have to print some block of text that says "You get to use this in addition to what you could use before". So the Essentials feats are official 4e material that is available to anyone that wants to use it. The DM can say "No Essentials!" and that's cool, just like he could say "No Arcane Power" too.

As for feats that are actually direct modifications of existing ones, if they are listed in errata then they are updated, pure and simple. Again the DM can say he's not using that errata, but otherwise the new text is the text. If it doesn't happen to be covered in errata THEN it would be up to the DM and the players to decide if they are using the updated version or not.

The point is all the feats work together from all sources. They all follow the same rules. Some may be better than older ones and maybe a given character would simply be better off with some Essentials feat instead of some older feat. Again this is just like the situation with any splat book or other new material. The DM might allow the player to swap out older stuff or even rebuild totally. It is really up to them. WotC can't make those decisions for you. They don't know your players, table, or play style. Officially they have to retrain. Unofficially most groups allow some level of rebuilding but that is always going to be unofficial. It isn't up to WotC to figure out the issues every game has or to know what is best for you.

I don't see any level of confusion that hasn't existed since Martial Power was released and some people wanted better powers and feats from it instead of PHB1 stuff they already had. It is just a fact of life.
 

twilsemail

First Post
<Weapon Expertise vs. Axe Expertise>

Do you have an example that actually uses an Element that is in both books? These are both still in the CB and Compendium (last I checked) as they are two separate feats. Complaining that a feat is now outdated is different from showing that they missed an actual update to a feat.
 
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Let's get a few things straight.

Essentials is NOT anything like previous splat books. I don't recall any of the Power books to actually introduce an updated or new version of anything. They were specifically designed as optional additions to the game whereas Essentials has blurred the lines of being an add-on or a revision.

And forgive me if I don't just take WotC's word at it just because they say something repeatedly. In the past, I could count on official errata or FAQs to settle such disputes. There might be something coming at some point, but lately it seems they are content to leave everyone else to deal with it as they move forward with their Essentials-only mentality.

Maybe its just my particular neck of the wood, but people that I've talked to at stores, meets, etc., seem to be largely turned off by the Essentials for one reason or another, and the common theme appears to do with the fact that they just don't want to deal with it. Its not as cut and dry to everybody despite individuals insisting that there's not.

Alright. You win. I'll go downtown right now and let the others know that their confusion has been dispelled. I'll tell them "Essentials is just like Arcane Power". They'll understand that. :p
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Do you have an example that actually uses an Element that is in both books? These are both still in the CB and Compendium (last I checked) as they are two separate feats. Complaining that a feat is now outdated is different from showing that they missed an actual update to a feat.
I thought I just did. Or didn't I? Isn't one supposed to replace the other? At least that is the argument being made, right? It should be obvious to everyone, or so I'm being told time and time again.
 

twilsemail

First Post
Essentials is NOT anything like previous splat books. I don't recall any of the Power books to actually introduce an updated or new version of anything. They were specifically designed as optional additions to the game whereas Essentials has blurred the lines of being an add-on or a revision.

The other "splat books" aren't designed as optional additions any more than any other book, including Essentials, has been. They're all Core. If you want to huff and say they're not core, have at it. That doesn't make the current model untrue.

And forgive me if I don't just take WotC's word at it just because they say something repeatedly. In the past, I could count on official errata or FAQs to settle such disputes. There might be something coming at some point, but lately it seems they are content to leave everyone else to deal with it as they move forward with their Essentials-only mentality.

E4e and 4e are entirely compatible. There's no reason to say they aren't with the exception of trying to raise a stink. There has been errata integrating E4e and 4e. Anything that wasn't covered specifically was covered by the blanket statement of "use the new stuff if it has the same name."

They've printed non-Essentials material. Check it out. Some of it is pretty spiffy.

Maybe its just my particular neck of the wood, but people that I've talked to at stores, meets, etc., seem to be largely turned off by the Essentials for one reason or another, and the common theme appears to do with the fact that they just don't want to deal with it. Its not as cut and dry to everybody despite individuals insisting that there's not.

It's a truth everywhere that those that are dissatisfied will raise their voices while those that are content with the game will actually go off and play the bloody thing. The people that enjoy the current layout are busy doing just that.

Then again, maybe you've got a higher than average percentage of dissatisfied players in your area. We seem about 60/40 out this way.

I thought I just did. Or didn't I? Isn't one supposed to replace the other? At least that is the argument being made, right? It should be obvious to everyone, or so I'm being told time and time again.

Nope. Weapon Expertise and Axe Expertise have two different names. You’d need to pull out something like “Boffer Expertise” from PHB4 which has conflicting text with “Bofffer Expertise” from Heroes of the Fiery Jungle. Same name overwrites same name. Otherwise you’ve just got options. Same general concept (really good with an axe) does not overwrite same general concept (really good with an axe). I think that's where you're confused.

Edit: Also, I think that, while this whole thing is clear once it's pointed out, this is obviously confusing. I mean there wouldn't be daily posts for the last six months if it weren't confusing. I do think that some people are so determined to be confused that they won't listen to the people pointing out the clarifications.
 
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Today I find myself in an unfamiliar position. I am waiting on a call and indulging in this ongoing debate over something that I didn't really think needed debating in the first place, and find myself being continually put on the defensive. And for what reason? Because I suggested that Essentials is confusing to a lot of people. That's it.

There is no need for sides in this argument, is there? I actually like Essentials; I just don't know if I like it mixed in with my old 4e or if I like it standing on its own. Of course, I really hate the idea of letting go of all my previous material just to make it work, and I think that I am not alone in this.

So what is the argument being made here really about? That its not as confusing as some people say it is? Maybe more than a few people believe that, but its irrelevant to those who have given up on trying to deal with it. Everything that has come out before Essentials has not been so difficult in this regard. Its not even a comparison.

But I didn't come here to whine, or complain, or huff about any of it. I came here to make a point, and the point is that there is a greater degree of confusion when dealing with Essentials than what we've had to deal with in the past with other supplements. That's it. How this devolved into a pointless debate about needing to prove something with an example out of the text is beyond me. The only proof that matters... the one that cannot be refuted... is that there is a significant number of gamers out there who cannot agree on how everything in Essentials is supposed to work with all the other stuff.

And then, this:
Edit: Also, I think that, while this whole thing is clear once it's pointed out, this is obviously confusing. I mean there wouldn't be daily posts for the last six months if it weren't confusing. I do think that some people are so determined to be confused that they won't listen to the people pointing out the clarifications.
You might be right, but I wasn't looking for clarification. Just someone who could point me to the definitive answers that so many might have missed. Fact is, I know it doesn't exist. And that is the greatest point of contention about this whole fiasco. It should never have been an issue, yet it is, and continues to be for many of us. We're not lost; we're just tired of having to deal with it.

And your 40%? They shouldn't be invalidated just because they're not in the majority where you're at.

I'm going to try and leave it at that as I think we've begun to stray from the original topic. Now I wish that phone call would come in already.

BTW, I loved the snark you took out of the original. That actually made me laugh! ;)
 

SSquirrel

Explorer
Axe Expertise is not listed anywhere in the errata, so there's no clear indication that it supersedes, replaces, or works in conjunction with any of the earlier edition feats or options that work similar to it. Naturally, we just make the assumption that it does. It seems logical, and its probably a safe assumption. Most of us might accept that, but its not guaranteed because there is no definitive source to give us an answer.

Like all examples of power creep and or just plain bad/weak feats (Axe expertise vs older versions) it just supplies us with more targets for "system mastery". Wasn't system mastery something that the designers of 3E said they included at the time to help show which gamers understood the system better, but who all eventually said it was a bad idea and bad feats should never have been written?

The old Expertise feats were bad feats that just plugged math holes that WotC had made. The new Expertise feats are clearly better and could easily be described as either power creep or just giving a bonus on top of fixing that math, which means you aren't really being penalized any longer and actually get something for your feat.

I thought that system mastery was something they had mentioned wanting to get away from in 4E. You'd be dumb not to take the newer feats if they are available, just like how some of the splatbooks had significantly better feats. Call it power creep, new additions to the game or revisions, it's all amounting to the same thing in the end.

And no Jacob, I'm not targeting you here, your feat you used was just a good example for me :)
 

aurance

First Post
I came here to make a point, and the point is that there is a greater degree of confusion when dealing with Essentials than what we've had to deal with in the past with other supplements. That's it.

For what it's worth, I completely agree with you.

PHBI, PHBII, PHBIII, AP, DP, MP, MP2, etc. had a certain class structure, and material that clearly relied on each other.

Essentials has another type of class structure, many elements that supersede the previous list, as well as verbiage that makes no reference to anything outside of Essentials material.

Yes they're certainly compatible, but to say that Essentials introduced no additional confusion to the game, especially to new players, is patently untrue.
 

mudlock

First Post
4e is 4e and a feat is a feat. Essentials didn't change any of that.

Yeah, some of the new feats make some of the old feats pretty much a waste of time. So my advice to you is: Don't take feats that are a waste of time. Yeah, it'd be nice if WotC made a list somewhere of the useless feats, but they haven't (and thank you to the EN community members who did!) But that's not "confusion," that's "inconvenience," and a minor one at that, since virtually every player who's going to care or notice is one who already is familiar with PHBI-III, and is therefore pretty much by definition not a new player.

If you are a new player, it might be easier to either only use pre-essentials feats or only use post-essentials feats; your character might not be fully super-ultra-optimized, but they won't be horribly deficient either, I promise.

If you're an old hat running a game for new players (or a mix of old and new players), it might be slightly easier/fairer to make everyone do that. Or the old hats can hand-hold the newbies about the 40 or so out of the 2,000-odd feats in the game that have been superseded. Or not; again, their characters won't be horribly deficient by any stretch. But again, that's not "confusion" that's "minor annoyance."

Acting like you're an old hat while demanding that WotC hold your hand about this seems... I dunno... like you're just concern-trolling against Essentials.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
Yeah, it'd be nice if WotC made a list somewhere of the useless feats, but they haven't (and thank you to the EN community members who did!) But that's not "confusion," that's "inconvenience," and a minor one at that, since virtually every player who's going to care or notice is one who already is familiar with PHBI-III, and is therefore pretty much by definition not a new player.
I disagree. You may want to search this very forum for posts of confused players asking things like: "If I take (Essentials) feat X why would I want to take (pre-Essentials) feat Y?"

You have no idea how confusing it is for a new player who has bought a mix of Essentials and pre-Essentials stuff (and that's assuming they managed to evade the trap of buying products from different editions!). Quite often they got it as a present from people even more clueless than a newbie.
Acting like you're an old hat while demanding that WotC hold your hand about this seems... I dunno... like you're just concern-trolling against Essentials.
If I'd be fond of flinging accusations around, I might consider mentioning your post seems... I dunno... like you're just concern-trolling pro-Essentials ;)
 

twilsemail

First Post
I disagree. You may want to search this very forum for posts of confused players asking things like: "If I take (Essentials) feat X why would I want to take (pre-Essentials) feat Y?"

You find the same questions for *Power books, Dragon articles and even the PHBs. New feats aren't an Essentials problem. They're a concern with any game system still in print. Some things end up outdated.

Why would I take Feyborn Charm when I can just take Implement Expertise(Orb)?
 

Jhaelen

First Post
You find the same questions for *Power books, Dragon articles and even the PHBs. New feats aren't an Essentials problem. They're a concern with any game system still in print. Some things end up outdated.

Why would I take Feyborn Charm when I can just take Implement Expertise(Orb)?
In other words, you agree it's confusing, although only about as confusing as releasing similar feats in pre-Essentials products was? ;)
 

In other words, you agree it's confusing, although only about as confusing as releasing similar feats in pre-Essentials products was? ;)

Exactly. When Versatile Expertise was published it replaced Weapon Expertise and Implement Expertise (at least for some builds of characters). There are still people around that may not know about that feat. If they use the old feats, well, they will use up an extra feat slot. It isn't the end of the world. Is it some kind of perfect situation? No, but this kind of thing happens all the time in any fairly extensive game system.

There are some things WotC could do, and may do, that might be helpful. They have already done some of it by for instance making CB with a mode that only presents Essentials stuff for people that are playing with just those rules. They could put in a deprecation flag to hide obsolete feats too, which would be nice and would cover a lot more than just Essentials (Fey Charm was a good example).

In terms of confusion with people not being clear on whether they should buy Essentials or older stuff, or both, or maybe even confused by 3.x stuff that is on the FLGS's shelves still... That's an issue for the retailer to some extent. I think WotC has done as much as is humanly possible to label the Essentials stuff as "this is what you want to buy first if you want to get into D&D". Certainly the retailers at a game store should be able to provide guidance to customers at that level. In an ideal world only the latest and greatest stuff would be on the shelves, but in the real world this kind of issue always exists.

I'm sure if someone has some great idea about how to make things clearer for customers WotC is all ears. Let them know.
 

DracoSuave

First Post
Changes happen in a game that is in evolution. This has happened in every such game ever.

People got confused when clerics had a different spell progression in the TSR printing of 2nd edition D&D vs the Wizards printing. People got confused when haste turned from extra actions to just an extra attack in 3.x. People get confused because they see two products and go 'holy crap this is different and better why would I what is this I don't even'

But, the game evolves. Evolution requires change. Change requires, at some point, something is differnet.

In the case of certain feats, they changed their minds about the power levels of certain feats. They decided they weren't right; so they changed them. This isn't a tragedy. This is what is necessary for the evolution of the game. At some point, when something isn't right, someone has to change their mind. It happens.

This is not an essentials vs core debate. This is not a PHB vs PHB2 debate. This is not even a 3.0 vs 3.5 debate. This is a 'they changed their minds' debate. The debate should then be 'Is the new way of doing it better than the old way?' Let that answer, and nothing else, decide your course of action from there.

The nonsense rhetoric surrounding Core vs Essentials is silly; it's a 'they changed their minds on something, deal with it like you always have' issue.
 

Primal

First Post
I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Jacob et al.

DracoSuave seems to imply (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) that this is a non-issue; it's simply about preference and style, and nothing else. It's not even in the same ballpark as the 3.0 vs. 3.5 debate. There's actually nothing to be confused about, since we can chalk it up to natural evolution of the game.

Well, I beg to differ; to me it looks confusing as hell. Then again, I'm a dedicated Pathfinder GM. But here's the thing: even though I originally dismissed 4E because I felt certain thematical and mechanical changes were too profound for me, these days I'd actually want to run 4E alongside PF. Despite my earlier prejudice against 4E, I always felt it had some pretty good qualities, too; simplified monster/NPC stat block, more elegant SoS/Sod system than 3E, skill challenges, utility spells transformed into rituals, and a very coherent power format that reminded me of bibliograhic records. It took me almost two years to realize that maybe I should give 4E another try, with nigh-mystical martial powers and all. Unfortunarely, I'm becoming convinced that it's too late for that.

When they announced the Essentials, I thought it would my "ticket to ride"; 4E with updated, errata'ed and clarified core rules, plus revised monster rules and stats. But, then the previews started coming in, and I felt confused. Subclasses, but no core classes? Knight, mage, slayer, thief... where was the fighter and the wizard and the cleric? No dailies for some classes? New racial attribute system and powers? New magic item and treasure rules? Feat categories? What the hell was with all these changes?

You see, I thought I'd be one of the guys they were targeting with Essentials; an old skool DM with 20+ years of running the game under his belt, who would be willing to jump on board if given the chance. I don't need anyone to "hold my hand", as Mudlock put it; all I actually ever wanted was a new printing of the core rules with all the errata, updates and revisions included, without having to get a DDI account or paying a ridiculous sum for the Deluxe edition books. I'm a bibliophile and a librarian, so I want real, hardback books. And constantly referecing a folder of printouts -- or using a marker or a pen on dozens of pages -- is something I also don't want to do.

So I went to my FLGS and leafed through the Essentials books, and the first thing in my mind was: is this 4.5 or not? As I already said above, I felt confused as hell. The problem, in my opinion, doesn't lie in whether Feat X is better than Feat Y or Power Z. Or whether you prefer W or Q, or whatever. Rather, it is about how Essentials and 4E Classic relate to each other, and how the mechanics "click" in practise. I've seen many posters repeat the mantra that Essentials is NOT a revised edition; it's simply add-on mechanics that function in harmony with the "old" stuff.

However, Let's take a look at how ODLIS (Online Dictionary for Library and Information Sciences; ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science) defines 'revised edition':

"An edition in which a previously published work is substantially altered by correction, deletion, or the addition of supplementary material, either by the original author/editor or another writer, usually to expand the content or bring it up-to-date. Some revised editions are not as 'revised' as they claim to be (caveat emptor). The extent of revision may be indicated in a new foreword or preface. Frequency of revision usually depends on the amount of new material available but may also be linked [sic] to a decline in sales of the preceding edition..."

By this definition Essentials could be called a revised edition; but, since it is a whole new product line, it's not that simple. However, as WoTC staff members consistently like to claim, "it's still 4E", and since Rules Compendium contains material that is meant to replace equivalent mechanics in PHBs, I'd definitely call it a revised edition. Not just based on my knowledge on literature and publishing, but also my 20+ years of experience as a gamer.

But that's actually beside the point; what's really bothering me is that I feel Essentials was a mistake. To me it's pretty clear that WoTC didn't know who 4EE should primarily be marketed for: a simplified starter set for newbies, a revised and updated edition for 4E Classic fans, or an alternative core set with a different thematic and mechanic design direction (3.75) to hook the "naysayers". In the end they tried to please everyone, and I think it's a mess. Now they're trying to sell it with marketing phrases such as "It's a new way to approach things,
but it's still the same game! And it works seamlessly alongside the older material!" or "Yes, any 4E fan should buy these products, but they will be especially enticing to lapsed players and newcomers, because we've backpedaled a bit towards 3.5 while cutting extranous rules to make it a smoother and a bit simpler experience!" (and those are
not direct quotes, but rather how I interpreted their words). Dammit, WoTC, that's not what guys like me want; as I said above, I want the core rules reprinted with errata, with rituals and all!

What finally killed the Essentials (and 4E, I guess, since in truth I don't think they'll ever reprint the PHB, DMG and MM) for me was the announcement that the 'Heroes of Sword and Spell' was cancelled; yeah, they've promised to deliver the contents in SOME form in the future, but given their track record so far, I wouldn't be holding my breath. I mean, they're giving their customers Fortune Cards, but no book about making 4E Classic seamlessly fit your Essentials game, and vice versa. What about multiclassing your Avenger into Knight or Mage? What should I say if someone exclaims "How come your guy gets +2 to ALL his defenses, while I had to wait until 11th level before I got this crappy Iron Will?!?". What to do if a visiting player's PC has Rituals, and I'm running the game with nothing but Essentials books? And given that I'm not too keen on getting a DDI account (and MME has also been cancelled), how do I manage with a handful of magic items in Essentials? Etcetera, etcetera.

In addition to a new and revised printing of the rules, I also would have wanted to have more information on designing NPCs and monsters. Although I like the idea behind "unique" powers, it's a bit too "artistic" for me (and I have posted about this before). Why couldn't a brute have "stunlock" powers? Can a 1st level monster have Daze/Stun powers at all? Why don't brutes (at least in MM1, IIRC) get any "save ends"-type of powers? How many powers should a 9th level monster have? How many traits? Which numbers should certain type of powers, for example "Target falls prone and becomes stunned and grants Combat Advantage (save ends both)" recharge on? And so on. People often talk about players having "power paralysis", but I would certainly feel it when creating new monsters for 4E, because unless I'm wrong, all the official guidelines are pretty loose and scattered among several books and Dungeon articles. All this is probably very clear to the designers, but it's not that easy for tactically less inclined guys like me.

In closing I'd like to repeat that I think Jacob's assessment about Essentials being confusing and even incompatible with the core rules to some degree is correct. These are not simple add-ons; they're revised classes that show the new design principles, and I think using them alongside core classes would be like using 3.0 and 3.5 PCs in the same game. Or maybe I just don't get what the modular nature of 4E really means? Anyway, I feel like even though I'd like to get onboard, the ship has apparently sailed for me. And it's a damn shame. Although perhaps it's for the better; I wouldn't be surprised at all if they announced 5E at GenCon this year.
 

mudlock

First Post
D&D is no longer just a set of books; it's a constantly changing thing now. You will never be able to physically hold the one, true, complete, and definitive D&D in your hands ever again. Never. If you can't get used to that, then walk away now.

(Being a librarian isn't going to be a lot of fun for you either in the coming years, I imagine.)

If you want the updated rules, in print, buy the RC. If you want rituals, buy PH1. If you don't want to pay for both, live without. If you've got players complaining that the feats in the books they bought aren't as good as the feats in the books your other players bought SHARE BOOKS; you're a librarian, this shouldn't be a difficult concept.

On some of your points, though, I agree.

The lack of a broad choice of magic items in essentials products is a short coming for that product line, and I don't know what WotC will be doing, if anything, to fix it. I've got PH1 and AV1, so I'm all set, but I feel sorry for people who are new to the game that are trying to stick to just the essentials and haven't yet gotten the feel for designing their own magic items.

And more in-depth guidelines for designing your own monsters, particularly how powerfully status effects should be weighted and how many powers a creature should have, would be nice. Hasn't come from WotC, but there are some blogs I can point you to for advice. (Conspiratorially, I don't think you'll ever see any more details for that "secret formula"; partly because I think they don't have one and just feel it out "artistically", but partly because that's how they sell more monster books.)

But there is nothing *incompatible* between 4e and essentials.

All these things, all these feats and all these classes, exist in the same space. Yes, some more-recently published feats are obviously dominant choices. I guess some people find that confusing? Fine, I'm willing to accept that they are legitimately confused. Well, if your confused, here's how it works: sometimes, things don't work out exactly how the game designer thought they would. And printing new, more-powerful stuff is easier than printing errata to weaken things. Call it power creep, or call "Who in their right mind would ever take Astral Fire anyway?," or whatever. I think the changes have been, almost to a number, for the better. And since this is a living game, not a once-and-done book, a better game is what I care about. And I'm sorry if that makes your deadtree shelf weep.

(For the record, although I'm taking a crack at the decidedly non-digital, I'm not actually a DDI subscriber myself. I buy the books that provide me the things I want, skip the ones that don't provide me enough of what I value, and keep an ear to the ground for major errata.)
 

I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Jacob et al.

DracoSuave seems to imply (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) that this is a non-issue; it's simply about preference and style, and nothing else. It's not even in the same ballpark as the 3.0 vs. 3.5 debate. There's actually nothing to be confused about, since we can chalk it up to natural evolution of the game.

...snipped...

In closing I'd like to repeat that I think Jacob's assessment about Essentials being confusing and even incompatible with the core rules to some degree is correct. These are not simple add-ons; they're revised classes that show the new design principles, and I think using them alongside core classes would be like using 3.0 and 3.5 PCs in the same game. Or maybe I just don't get what the modular nature of 4E really means? Anyway, I feel like even though I'd like to get onboard, the ship has apparently sailed for me. And it's a damn shame. Although perhaps it's for the better; I wouldn't be surprised at all if they announced 5E at GenCon this year.

Not meant as a criticism at all, but have you played Essentials or 'classic' 4e? There simply is no mechanical incompatibility between them AT ALL, none. The Essentials RC reprints the general rules of the game, taking into account the errata, and makes a very few minor additional changes that basically are only of interest to rules lawyers or in very specific situations (and are very minor things at that).

The addition of new character options with Essentials is just that, addition. As with any supplement they do sometimes tend to obsolete a few older options, but you have to understand that for all the words expended on the subject it is really not all that consequential.

In terms of terminology like what the sub-classes are named, well, they had to call them something. I really don't think Essentials qualifies as an 'edition' even in the most technical sense. It is a different product, an extension of the existing product and also a stand-alone product.

OTOH I think there is a certain equivocal attitude at WotC HQ these days. I don't think it centers on Essentials though. I think it centers on classic 4e itself. I think basically they created an almost entirely new game from whole cloth 3 years ago. It is all new mechanics and different concepts. 4e was a prototype. It is a great game, but it is also an imperfect game. 3 years of experience and it is PAINFULLY obvious how it could be improved and could have been better. Yet the long shadow of 3.5 lies across everything WotC does. They CANNOT revise it. As much as 4e begs and weeps to be reforged and re-released in a "4.5" it simply cannot be done. Moreover it can't be done for business reasons either, there's a big inventory of MM1, PHB1, DMG1 still stacked in warehouses that they simply cannot afford to write off. Essentials is a half measure. It is what CAN be done.
 

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