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D&D 4E 4e Madness for the holidays!

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
So this just came in the mail for me today. I was skeptical at first when I saw it listed on Amazon as new; more so when the price was listed at half of what I've seen it go for on eBay. I still paid a few gold (platinum?) coins for it, but it was nowhere near the $250-300 average I've seen every place else. I've owned my share of rare and collectible pieces in my 40+ years of D&D gaming, selling some for a decent markup. But I think this will stand as one of my personal favorites. I don't know if I can bring myself to punch the counters, but I really want to run it! sigh

MGA-new.jpg


Anyone else get their hands on something that made them excited and stupid-happy?
 
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Solution for the tokens: Use a color printer to print copies onto heavy cardstock, and cut out those. You can even find an appropriately-sized hole punch at a craft store to make the cutting part easy.
I've also got a bunch of pawns to use.

But if a group was willing to play (and I start running games in person again), I would probably punch them out (the tokens and the dungeon tiles, not the players!). Give them the full 4e experience. I mean, that's why we buy the modules and stuff, right? eyes the decades-worth of game materials still waiting on the shelves
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I've decided to make this into a full-length Heroic-tier 4e campaign to cover levels 1-10. I will be using Reavers of Harkenwold to fill out the first five levels, but I will need to expand it since it only covers play for levels 2-3. The write up is being worked up and posted on another site (where there's dedicated sub-forums for specific editions). Once I finish the write ups and happy with the results, I might post it here. Provided there's any response or interest...?
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
A quick preview from my latest post:

Part III: The Fell Court
Threats to the Nentir Vale
e4-MVN24.jpg


I must confess. If the Neverwinter Campaign Setting had not pointed me to the Fell Court while I was reviewing the Ashmadai (see Part IV below), I probably would have overlooked them. Reading the first paragraph of their description, however, it's still likely that I might have skipped them altogether. Take a look at what it says:

Threats to the Nentir Vale said:
The first tieflings entered the Nentir Vale as ragged survivors, exiled from most civilized areas and distrusted by all because of the corruption of Bael Turath. A handful of tiefling scoundrels descended from those refugees have banded together for mutual protection, calling themselves the Fell Court. These self-proclaimed scions of Bael Turath are determined to restore the shattered empire under their rule.

It's interesting, to be sure. But from what I read there, I didn't think I would be able to make it work for this adventure. The group operates mostly out of Fallcrest, which is a few days removed from Harkenwold. And the Court seems like they would have a conflict of interest with the Iron Circle. Both want to see themselves in power, but neither strike me as the type to share it. Or, so I thought.

I continued reading and found this hidden surprise on the next page:

Threats to the Nentir Vale said:
Through his network of spies and informants, Melech Ambrose (the leader of the Fell Court) has become aware of the activities of the Iron Circle and learned that its leaders are followers of Asmodeus. Thus it seems to him that the Fell Court and the Iron Circle have much in common.

Alright. Some of you might have picked up on the relationship between tieflings and devils right away. I, on the other hand, needed to have it spelled out for me. Regardless, I am grateful that it did. I have yet to find a more succinct and intriguing correlation between the Iron Circle and any other faction or monster anywhere. This one, in my opinion, is a really, really good one. Here's why.

Up until this point, I had expected to find only mercenaries, weak-willed sycophants, and mindless monsters that could easily be manipulated to do whatever the Iron Circle wants them to do. The Fell Court, however, is none of these things. They are scoundrels, schemers; villains in their own right. And they are willing to help these new comers achieve their goals of conquest, if only to get closer to achieving their own.

But an alliance has not yet been made. Thus far, the Iron Circle has ignored the Melech Ambrose's requests for an audience. But the leader of the Fell Court answers to his own dark masters; devils and fiends who have a vested interest in seeing Bael Turath rise from the ashes. One might think Asmodeus would align the groups towards a common goal. If so, why hasn't he done so already? Well, who says it has to be Asmodeus? Maybe a rival or upstart devil is using the Court to work their own machinations? And here we have our most interesting twist!

From an adventure designer's perspective, this presents an opportunity to create a decision point allowing for multiple paths in an otherwise linear script. Will the Fell Court join the invaders? Can the party stop them from adding their strength to the Iron Circle? Or do the tieflings have some other nefarious plans to betray everyone? These are all delicious possibilities better left decided by the players and the actions of their characters.

I'll explore the Fell Court in more detail, and the role they'll play in this adventure, in another section later. For now, I have some new monster stats for the adventure, including Melech Ambrose himself. They are:
  • Fell Court Blackheart (level 2 Lurker)
  • Fell Court Ruffian(level 2 Minion Brute)
  • Fell Court Creep (level 3 Minion Skirmisher)
  • Fell Court Underboss (level 3 Soldier (Leader))
  • Fell Court Hellmage (level 4 Artillery (Leader))

And that's not all! Because the Fell Court have access to small groups of the tiefling-bred monsters, called Felldrakes, which adds the following creatures to the list:
  • Leaping Felldrake (level 1 Lurker)
  • Crested Felldrake (level 2 Skirmisher)
  • Hissing Felldrake (level 3 Artillery)
  • Tri-Horned Felldrake (level 4 Soldier)
 




Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Nice find indeed. I was never into 4e, but it’s nice to see a non-5e posting. D&D is more than just the current edition.
Indeed. I purged lots of older materials from my collection that I stopped using because I needed to reclaim space on my shelf for new books. But I kept several titles that still had value for me. It may have been a favorite adventure or sourcebook, nostalgic memories that remind me of a time in my life, or the information is still useful.

For example, I may never play or run a 3rd edition game again, but I still have almost every Forgotten Realms sourcebook from that edition. There is so much information and detail about the setting that is edition neutral. In my mind, my FR games are still set in that era.

And I'll never get rid of my 4e stuff. That is the perfect edition for me, despite its imperfections. But I will still find ways to use my favorite parts of every edition, including 5e and whatever else comes after. All these strengths combined can only make it better.
 

haakon1

Adventurer
Indeed. I purged lots of older materials from my collection that I stopped using because I needed to reclaim space on my shelf for new books. But I kept several titles that still had value for me. It may have been a favorite adventure or sourcebook, nostalgic memories that remind me of a time in my life, or the information is still useful.

For example, I may never play or run a 3rd edition game again, but I still have almost every Forgotten Realms sourcebook from that edition. There is so much information and detail about the setting that is edition neutral. In my mind, my FR games are still set in that era.

And I'll never get rid of my 4e stuff. That is the perfect edition for me, despite its imperfections. But I will still find ways to use my favorite parts of every edition, including 5e and whatever else comes after. All these strengths combined can only make it better.
Totally hear you, except 3.5e and Greyhawk is my thing. Same attitude, different thing.

I read and use AD&D 1e stuff all the time, including Goodman Games “Original Adventures Reincarnated“, which are Basic or 1e plus conversions to 5e and additional materials in 5e.

And I’m reading Dungeon magazine and using 2e stuff from it, even though I didn’t play much 2e - easy enough to convert and it’s the stories that matter.

From 4e, I only played Shadowed Keep and Thunderspire … Thunderspire is an interesting setting I might use someday.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
And I’m reading Dungeon magazine and using 2e stuff from it, even though I didn’t play much 2e - easy enough to convert and it’s the stories that matter.
Dungeon magazine was my favorite things in every edition until they let it slip into oblivion. For less than the price of a published module or book, I would look forward to a handful of quality adventures written and designed for a variety of campaign settings, styles, and themes. Even if I didn't use a single adventure in its entirety, I could mine the pages for maps, stats, npcs, treasures, encounters, traps, plots, ideas, etc. I still have stacks of issues going back to the beginning. This, in my opinion, is something that 5e is missing; the DMs Guild doesn't even cover it.

From 4e, I only played Shadowed Keep and Thunderspire … Thunderspire is an interesting setting I might use someday.
Of the three in that H-series, Thunderspire is usually regarded as the best. The plots and premises of the series were thin, but that one had some interesting locations I could pull wholesale and drop into the middle of whatever campaign I was running at the time. At one time, I actually drew the orc temple (the Chamber of Eyes) by hand on giant 1" graph paper for a one-shot.
 

Retreater

Legend
Of the three in that H-series, Thunderspire is usually regarded as the best.
It's a shame, then, that we gave up on that series after two different run-throughs of Keep on the Shadowfell. We played other adventures, but not in the H1-E3 series, because they had such a bad reputation (and H1 didn't work for us). Most of our experience was with D&D Encounters.
It's too bad the system is so dead now - I couldn't run it on VTT if I tried, and there's not enough in-person players locally to do more than a rare 5e one shot.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
It's a shame, then, that we gave up on that series after two different run-throughs of Keep on the Shadowfell. We played other adventures, but not in the H1-E3 series, because they had such a bad reputation (and H1 didn't work for us). Most of our experience was with D&D Encounters.
Surprisingly, it was D&D Encounters that got me running games in a store. Before that, I was on running a 4e campaign exclusively on a message board (PbP). It was an adaptation of Red Hand of Doom (not Scales of War) with two groups of six players, starting at level 1 and taking different paths simultaneously. Took two years getting to level 3, but still one of my favorite experiences. I wish we were able to keep it going.

I loved the idea of Encounters, having to prep for only one encounter at a time. Great for people with full-time schedules who worked on the weekends. But it got tiresome going only up 3 levels, then starting the next series with level 1 characters again just to showcase the new options in the next splat book. It wasn't long before I started running my own encounters or adventures for the players who wanted to stick with me. I even ran the sequel to Evard they printed in Dungeon after that season ended so they could continue with the same characters. My Encounters group just became my regular group. Good times.

It's too bad the system is so dead now - I couldn't run it on VTT if I tried, and there's not enough in-person players locally to do more than a rare 5e one shot.
That's one way to look at it. I mean, you could run it on VTTs by just keeping track of the basic information, like hit points and healing surges. Focus on the key visuals, like maps and tokens. They don't need to be module or system specific, either. Sure, it would be nice to have a fully automated system that does everything the game expects us to do by hand. But I think we all know that's not likely to happen for 4th edition. The company locked it down before it ever had a reasonable chance to flourish.
 

Retreater

Legend
My Encounters group just became my regular group. Good times.
Me too (until the pandemic ended it). Even after all this flies over, it's doubtful we'll return to it. They have all made other interests over the past 2 years.

That's one way to look at it. I mean, you could run it on VTTs by just keeping track of the basic information, like hit points and healing surges. Focus on the key visuals, like maps and tokens. They don't need to be module or system specific, either. Sure, it would be nice to have a fully automated system that does everything the game expects us to do by hand. But I think we all know that's not likely to happen for 4th edition. The company locked it down before it ever had a reasonable chance to flourish.
There's too many resources, too many splats, too many options. I don't think it's playable for me without online tools and automation. Even back when we played Encounters, every character sheet was made online.
Then trying to share 12+ books with a table of players across the country (world?); trying to plan complex strategies among players using only voice chat; flipping through a stack of books for stats while navigating Discord, VTT UI, multiple monitors to track maps/initiative trackers/etc.
It's just not for me.
 

BigZebra

Explorer
I currently play 4e on Roll20. Obviously it means entering all the monsters and powers manually but it works remarkably well I think. I set up all the monsters with token action so I don't have to open up a sheet. Also using some condition markers it is easy enough to see if someone is marked (and by who), bloodied etc.
The huge drawback of course, is that it takes some prep time entering all the info.

If one is willing to use Fantasy Grounds, it is possible to get almost all the books as FG modules you simply import into your campaign. And then you are rolling with drag and drop for ALL items, monsters, powers etc. Further with FG's automatic tracking 4e really shines. There's no modules for any adventures (except Keep on the Shadowfell), so you still have to set that up yourself, but at least all the monsters are drag-and-drop. Further if you make your own adventures that's not a drawback for you. Unfortunately we are no able to use FG in my group.
 


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
There's too many resources, too many splats, too many options. I don't think it's playable for me without online tools and automation. Even back when we played Encounters, every character sheet was made online.
Then trying to share 12+ books with a table of players across the country (world?); trying to plan complex strategies among players using only voice chat; flipping through a stack of books for stats while navigating Discord, VTT UI, multiple monitors to track maps/initiative trackers/etc.
It's just not for me.
I hear ya. I'd like to have one program that does everything I want, and not have to rely on various apps, plugins, etc. I'm trying to run a game, not a production studio. DMing is tasking enough. I want digital to make my life easier, not more complicated. This is why I started creating my own workbooks with OneNote. I want to gather all the information that I use in one place that includes the errata, the updates, and my own notes. Simple solutions are often the best way to address complicated issues.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I currently play 4e on Roll20. Obviously it means entering all the monsters and powers manually but it works remarkably well I think. I set up all the monsters with token action so I don't have to open up a sheet. Also using some condition markers it is easy enough to see if someone is marked (and by who), bloodied etc. The huge drawback of course, is that it takes some prep time entering all the info.
That might be the biggest hurdle for anyone. Not everyone has time to do the work to put in everything by hand, even if its just the parts you need for your next session. Even the Foundry VTT can't give us a fully-functional setup; the current project can only give us the bare bones and leave it to everyone to fill it out themselves. And unless there's a way to transfer that info, it's only good for that one game or module. (There's tricks to get around it, but that just means more time and effort figuring out how to do stuff.)
If one is willing to use Fantasy Grounds, it is possible to get almost all the books as FG modules you simply import into your campaign. And then you are rolling with drag and drop for ALL items, monsters, powers etc. Further with FG's automatic tracking 4e really shines. There's no modules for any adventures (except Keep on the Shadowfell), so you still have to set that up yourself, but at least all the monsters are drag-and-drop. Further if you make your own adventures that's not a drawback for you. Unfortunately we are no able to use FG in my group.
This is what Matt Colville is using for his current Dusk campaign, which he is showing on youtube. FG is probably the closest we'll ever get to a functional 4e VTT, but you still need to do some manual entry. And spend money for the license. And convince your friends to use it.

Like I said. I think we get hung up on having it all and not doing anything more than we need to. You can take a basic system-neutral setup, create tokens with hp and anything else you need to keep track of, and take care of everything else like you would if you were playing at the table without any other programs. A virtual map that keeps tabs of hit points, resources, and condition markers is still a step up from doing things with paper.
 

haakon1

Adventurer
Dungeon magazine was my favorite things in every edition until they let it slip into oblivion. For less than the price of a published module or book, I would look forward to a handful of quality adventures written and designed for a variety of campaign settings, styles, and themes. Even if I didn't use a single adventure in its entirety, I could mine the pages for maps, stats, npcs, treasures, encounters, traps, plots, ideas, etc. I still have stacks of issues going back to the beginning.
I agree. I’m collecting all I can get.
 

First Age

Explorer
That might be the biggest hurdle for anyone. Not everyone has time to do the work to put in everything by hand, even if its just the parts you need for your next session. Even the Foundry VTT can't give us a fully-functional setup; the current project can only give us the bare bones and leave it to everyone to fill it out themselves. And unless there's a way to transfer that info, it's only good for that one game or module. (There's tricks to get around it, but that just means more time and effort figuring out how to do stuff.)

This is what Matt Colville is using for his current Dusk campaign, which he is showing on youtube. FG is probably the closest we'll ever get to a functional 4e VTT, but you still need to do some manual entry. And spend money for the license. And convince your friends to use it.

Like I said. I think we get hung up on having it all and not doing anything more than we need to. You can take a basic system-neutral setup, create tokens with hp and anything else you need to keep track of, and take care of everything else like you would if you were playing at the table without any other programs. A virtual map that keeps tabs of hit points, resources, and condition markers is still a step up from doing things with paper.

I run 4e on Role VTT and we use it for its strengths (Audio Visuals), some light integration, and for images and battlemaps and tokens. I use Masterplan generated HTML printouts for monster stats and a dice roller sheet in Role to share the numbers. It works well enough and brings us altogether in one place.

Love all your exquisite prep!

I run through my process on this video:
 

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