4E 4E Redux

Xeviat

Explorer
Hi everyone. It's no secret that I loved 4th Edition. And after running 5E for a few years, I've decided that I really don't like DMing it. I like playing. I like the player side of the game for the most part. But I find the monsters to be supremely boring. I miss the complexity of combat in 4E. I miss the set piece boss battles (and legendary monsters don't do it for me, even with their lairs). 5E combat is over way too soon.

So, I've been thinking passively for years about trying to make a 4E hack. Either rewrite the 5E monsters to make them like 4E, or polish up the player side of 4E to streamline it (last time I looked at the list of powers, I got decision paralysis). I feel like rewriting the classes of 4E would be less work than remaking all of the monsters, but the monsters may just require writing new monster level guidelines and doing some analysis on PC damage per round (and adding some role mechanics back into the tank classes).

But, if I were to rewrite the classes of 4E, here are my thoughts:

Decouple class from role. Essentials showed us you could have a striker paladin or fighter, a leader druid, and a controller ranger. The core four classes (cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard) could possibly have builds that allow for any of the roles.

Redefine controller as artillery. Controller as a role is hard to build for, as it is more determined by power selection and not class abilities.

Reduce the classes down to the 5E 12+ (I love psionics, I'll still bring it in, and I'm growing to like the Artificer as a class). I believe these classes have minimal overlap, and other missed classes could be different builds within the other classes (warlord could be a leader fighter or a weapon oriented bard, invoker could be a controller cleric).

Largely decouple powers from classes. Create spell lists and shared powers. No need to have 8 different at-will weapon attacks that do 1d[w]+mod and slowed for 1 round.

Reintroduce the 1-9 spell progression. A 20th level character ends with 4 encounter and 4 daily powers, and those could be tracked against 2nd-5th and 6th-9th level spells (this ends up being fairly close with the slots of 5E), with 1st level spells becoming at-will slots at a point.

Not all classes have daily powers. Borrowing from Essentials, some classes/subclasses could have different power structures. Fighters could have their daily power allowance go towards spells (eldritch knight), static bonuses, or additional encounter exploits (I imagine the eldritch knight stealing from the blade singer and using wizard encounters as dailies, but getting to pair them with at-wills).

-------

This might be a lot of work, but its stuff I like working on. Redoing the monsters as I need them might be easier, though.

What do you think?
 
A lot of this does not sound like 4e.

Hi everyone. It's no secret that I loved 4th Edition. And after running 5E for a few years, I've decided that I really don't like DMing it. I like playing. I like the player side of the game for the most part. But I find the monsters to be supremely boring. I miss the complexity of combat in 4E. I miss the set piece boss battles (and legendary monsters don't do it for me, even with their lairs). 5E combat is over way too soon.

So, I've been thinking passively for years about trying to make a 4E hack. Either rewrite the 5E monsters to make them like 4E, or polish up the player side of 4E to streamline it (last time I looked at the list of powers, I got decision paralysis). I feel like rewriting the classes of 4E would be less work than remaking all of the monsters, but the monsters may just require writing new monster level guidelines and doing some analysis on PC damage per round (and adding some role mechanics back into the tank classes).

But, if I were to rewrite the classes of 4E, here are my thoughts:

Decouple class from role. Essentials showed us you could have a striker paladin or fighter, a leader druid, and a controller ranger. The core four classes (cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard) could possibly have builds that allow for any of the roles.
This may be the case, but I think this was to 4e's detriment. There were so many weak classes built over the course of 4e, many of which either tried to cover multiple roles, or performed their primarily role poorly. (In previous editions, usually splats made PCs stronger. 4e might have the first to do the opposite.) I think the only one of those core four that did the two roles well was the fighter, although the sentinel druid might have made a decent leader.

Redefine controller as artillery. Controller as a role is hard to build for, as it is more determined by power selection and not class abilities.
I don't like that idea. Wizards made really good controllers, and not really good artillery. Yes, building a controller is harder. The best way to do it, IMO, is to make sure there's a good selection of controlling spells, and few if any non-control spells. Otherwise you could end up with PCs like the 2e cleric with the Death sphere, and not the healing sphere. (See the invoker mention for that.)

Reduce the classes down to the 5E 12+ (I love psionics, I'll still bring it in, and I'm growing to like the Artificer as a class). I believe these classes have minimal overlap, and other missed classes could be different builds within the other classes (warlord could be a leader fighter or a weapon oriented bard, invoker could be a controller cleric).
I'm not a big fan of lots of classes, so this is something I could get behind. As for the invoker, I'd rather see it a separate class. If you want to do the unholy guy who does necromancy, or a storm cleric who doesn't do healing, that's what the invoker is about.

Largely decouple powers from classes. Create spell lists and shared powers. No need to have 8 different at-will weapon attacks that do 1d[w]+mod and slowed for 1 round.
I don't agree with this. If you have a melee attack that also slows, you're basically a defender. That ability does not belong on a PC with low hit points and low AC.

Reintroduce the 1-9 spell progression. A 20th level character ends with 4 encounter and 4 daily powers, and those could be tracked against 2nd-5th and 6th-9th level spells (this ends up being fairly close with the slots of 5E), with 1st level spells becoming at-will slots at a point.
I would be fine with that, provided there are at-will spells right from the start. I don't like the whole "three Magic Missiles and I'm done" school of thought at any level.

Not all classes have daily powers. Borrowing from Essentials, some classes/subclasses could have different power structures. Fighters could have their daily power allowance go towards spells (eldritch knight), static bonuses, or additional encounter exploits (I imagine the eldritch knight stealing from the blade singer and using wizard encounters as dailies, but getting to pair them with at-wills).
I found this made things hard to balance, especially at later levels when older 4e classes were getting three daily powers. (My recollection of the bladesinger was also something very weak... but IIRC there were two similar classes, and I might be confusing which of the two had confused weak roles.)

I think you are better off focusing on the monster side of things. I don't see how trying to introduce 4e elements but mainly the parts that did not involve mechanical rigor makes things better, when trying to emulate 4e.
 

sfedi

Villager
What's you opinion on limiting yourself to the levels of 4E where you don't get that analysis paralysis?
Wouldn´t that do the trick?
 

heretic888

Explorer
Just use companion characters from the DMG2 instead of regular PCs. Way simpler and more streamlined than any 5E PC.

If you want a little extra complexity you can give them a theme, paragon path, and/or epic destiny as they gain experience (which companion characters don't get by default).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think that the multi-role thing can be done better using feats and powers, or make the level 1 build choice more impactful.

A lot of the classes are going to be very hard to satisfying accomplish inside of one of the “12+”.

Is the Avenger a Paladin? Do all Paladin’s get a choice between heavy armor and unarmored defense?

A lot of character identity for many classes exists in mechanics that are built into powers. How does a Monk work with generic powers? It won’t be anything like the 4e monk, that’s for sure!

My suggestion is to:

rip out 4e’s math, and replace it with bounded accuracy

Drop monster HP more in line with Monster Vault and MV: Nentir Vale numbers

Dramatically shrink sources of stacking bonuses of any kind. No six sources of damage bonuses, none of it.

Kill all fidly feats that don’t contribute to story in any way. Situational tactical stuff is fun, +x on y attacks that deal z damage is boring.

Give all classes a basic close and basic ranged attack. All things that rely on basic attacks work with any basic attack of the right kind (opportunity attacks are available to everyone, leaders can give attacks to anyone). All attack powers use a basic attack, and add to/modify it, whenever possible.

Gain power slots, learn new powers to use with those slots. Want to power attack 3 times an encounter? Cool! Have fun!

Increase skill and other utility powers.

Bake in Themes from the start.

Allow choosing essentials style builds that gain passive features instead of a wide array of powers.

Give each role and power source powers available to all characters of that role and power source, to consolidate powers a bit, and save some work. But class powers are a vital part of 4e.
 

sfedi

Villager
Another way to keep 4e progression, remove the overwhelming options (apart from Essentials) and level up is to:
Remove magic item powers, or keep one.
Remove consumables.
Make two stacks of encounter powers, so you always have only two encounters to choose from. The player can change these stacks outside of combat.
Utiliy powers, I don´t have a clear way to handle them in order to reduce complexity.
Have one daily "active", which is the next one to use. You can even declare, as GM, in which combats dailies are supposed to be used, or are available.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Hi everyone. It's no secret that I loved 4th Edition. And after running 5E for a few years, I've decided that I really don't like DMing it. I like playing. I like the player side of the game for the most part. But I find the monsters to be supremely boring. I miss the complexity of combat in 4E. I miss the set piece boss battles (and legendary monsters don't do it for me, even with their lairs). 5E combat is over way too soon.

So, I've been thinking passively for years about trying to make a 4E hack. Either rewrite the 5E monsters to make them like 4E, or polish up the player side of 4E to streamline it (last time I looked at the list of powers, I got decision paralysis). I feel like rewriting the classes of 4E would be less work than remaking all of the monsters, but the monsters may just require writing new monster level guidelines and doing some analysis on PC damage per round (and adding some role mechanics back into the tank classes).

But, if I were to rewrite the classes of 4E, here are my thoughts:

Decouple class from role. Essentials showed us you could have a striker paladin or fighter, a leader druid, and a controller ranger. The core four classes (cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard) could possibly have builds that allow for any of the roles.

Redefine controller as artillery. Controller as a role is hard to build for, as it is more determined by power selection and not class abilities.

Reduce the classes down to the 5E 12+ (I love psionics, I'll still bring it in, and I'm growing to like the Artificer as a class). I believe these classes have minimal overlap, and other missed classes could be different builds within the other classes (warlord could be a leader fighter or a weapon oriented bard, invoker could be a controller cleric).

Largely decouple powers from classes. Create spell lists and shared powers. No need to have 8 different at-will weapon attacks that do 1d[w]+mod and slowed for 1 round.

Reintroduce the 1-9 spell progression. A 20th level character ends with 4 encounter and 4 daily powers, and those could be tracked against 2nd-5th and 6th-9th level spells (this ends up being fairly close with the slots of 5E), with 1st level spells becoming at-will slots at a point.

Not all classes have daily powers. Borrowing from Essentials, some classes/subclasses could have different power structures. Fighters could have their daily power allowance go towards spells (eldritch knight), static bonuses, or additional encounter exploits (I imagine the eldritch knight stealing from the blade singer and using wizard encounters as dailies, but getting to pair them with at-wills).

-------

This might be a lot of work, but its stuff I like working on. Redoing the monsters as I need them might be easier, though.

What do you think?
One of the big selling points for me about 4E is that all classes have functions to serve, so it's easy for a player to know what his or her role in the party is. It's also easier for a DM to plan for. So I'm not sure about getting rid of the classes and roles. It almost seems like it would be easier to graft some 4E design elements to 5E rather than the other way around.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I agree with your premises and goals but wouldnt it be easier to spice up 5e rather than totally transform 4e?

As I see if you revamp the battlemaster or give at will attacks to all martial classes, give monsters some further abilities/attacks you will go a long way to your goals with far less work.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I could go 2 ways.

1. Make something more mass market, more SWSE less 4E as is.

or
2. Steamline

2 would be more or less 4E for the 4E fans but a few ideas from 5E would be used. I would dump level 21-30, the tiers would be 1-8, 9-14, 15-20 for heroic, paragon, epic. Game designers are human to and most people don't play at level 20+ anyway. Tha cuts the 4E PHB classes down by 4-5 pages each.

Bounded accuracy.
Similar to 5E but bit more spread out. Abilities would be capped at 20, things like skill focus and trained would be overhauled. No more +14 at level 1 on skill checks. Similar to 5E.

Powers would likely be a bit more like SWSE force powers. Each power source would have their own set, some might have requirements (Monk 5, Fighter 10 for example). More stuff would be added to the basic classes so the powers are a bit less redundant. For example something like 5E fighting styles would be used, the Ranger would have some sort of striker ability while the fighter would be like a tempest if you wanted and you could staple the effect of a power onto a basic attack. Might also go with 5E multiple attacks instead of increasing amounts of 1W,2W,3W etc. This would also close the gap between rangers for damage and other strikers. This wold also eliminate a lot of duplicate or near duplicate powers.

So yeah a lot of streamlining but things like AEDU would be retained. Might steal advantage/disadvantage as well.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I agree with your premises and goals but wouldnt it be easier to spice up 5e rather than totally transform 4e?

As I see if you revamp the battlemaster or give at will attacks to all martial classes, give monsters some further abilities/attacks you will go a long way to your goals with far less work.
That's been the back and forth in my head. Changing the monsters would require "CHANGING THE MONSTERS", and for some reason I feel like altering the class/feat chapters of 4E feels like less work than altering an entire Monster Manual.

Then again, altering the monster manual would mostly be creating a new monster by level table and then applying it to monsters based on their CR. It's still a lot of work, and adjusting the classes feels more entertaining.

Though representing the 5E classes in the AEDU structure of 4E would be fun, because I think less people would like it. I firmly believe 4E's failing among the pathfinder players was presentation.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
I've not done the math on this, but if you're looking for longer "4e-more" feeling combats, I imagine these changes could be applied "on the fly" without to much trouble :
  • double monster hp
  • give all characters a new bonus action that allows using 1/2 level HD to self-heal when they have fewer than half their hp remaining. You must complete a long or short rest before you can use this ability again.
  • ... I would probably double the amount of HD a character has to "compensate"
It should allow for 1 or 2 more rounds and offer that "spring-back" feel. After that, it's a matter of giving monsters appropriately-thematic riders to their attacks, or a few special abilities to give them more personality in play.

I'm a big fan of the 13thAge approach of applying effects based on the attack roll. A simple example :
Ogre - on 15+, push back 10 feet. On even roll, target adjacent character (no new roll). On 20, knock prone.
These are cumulative (apply all that... apply.) So a "20" actually has all three effects. ;)

Or, if you're rolling damage, you can apply some effects on high/low damage rolls.

Having these things trigger really frees-up brain space, and tends to make it flow smoother at the table. (IF the triggers are simple and few in number.)
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
So like... only 1st level? I’m in.
I'm actually curious to know how many would like a game where you never got more powers. You can choose better ones as you gain levels, and your numbers grow, but you never actually get more than 1 encounter and 1 daily.

On the flip side, I'm also curious to know how many would like a game where the numbers don't grow, but you get new and better powers as you gain levels.

It's not really possible to force thousands and thousands of players to spend thousands of hours just to sate my curiosity, but if I had Xavier's powers... I'd be pretty tempted to try it out. ;)
 

Raith5

Adventurer
That's been the back and forth in my head. Changing the monsters would require "CHANGING THE MONSTERS", and for some reason I feel like altering the class/feat chapters of 4E feels like less work than altering an entire Monster Manual.

Then again, altering the monster manual would mostly be creating a new monster by level table and then applying it to monsters based on their CR. It's still a lot of work, and adjusting the classes feels more entertaining.

Though representing the 5E classes in the AEDU structure of 4E would be fun, because I think less people would like it. I firmly believe 4E's failing among the pathfinder players was presentation.
Fair enough. I think you could try making a loose list of attributes which could attach to 5e monsters on the fly. For eg: adding a 20' push to giant attacks, adding a 20' aura that does 1-8 necro damage to a specter, etc.
 

sfedi

Villager
With new players I normally dont start with the daily.
And in some cases without the encounter power entirely.

Those cuts are made to mantain simplicity and usually last 2-4 combats.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
And here I was thinking about bringing in some of the 4e changes to 5e. I'm thinking of doing away with hit dice and using healing surges (4 + con modifier for everyone) as well as giving everyone a 10 hit point kicker at the start to make level 1 and 2 more durable (Well, I guess all levels would be more durable but it would be more noticeable at levels 1 and 2). I'm also thinking about adding in the at will powers for martial attacks as manoeuvres but haven't quite figured out how to add them in with extra attacks at the moment, as in, should I scale them with extra attack or allow the effects to apply to each attack. Currently I'm leaning towards allowing the effects to apply to all attacks so that an 11th level fighter can cleave 3 times and deal their strength modifier damage to another enemy with each strike.

If I scaled them then I would probably make them kind of like cantrips that only level with each instance of extra attack and each use would use the full Attack action. A 5th level paladin cleaving would deal 2[weapon damage]+modifier to one target and 1[weapon]+modifier to a second. More overall damage but if they chose to smite, it would only affect a single target. At 11th level with improved smite, they would only be dealing that radiant damage to the primary target while the 11th level fighter would be dealing 3[weapon]+modifier to one target and 2[weapon]+modifier to a second. Feats like Great Weapon Master (or is that the fighting style?) might not be as desirable with these manoeuvres but I haven't really looked at the math to see how they compare to using the multiple attacks from Extra Attack.

But enough about what I want to do, I will be interested to see what changes you make for 4e. It definitely had a lot of options to keep up with so cutting them down would help with the learning curve for new players.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
And here I was thinking about bringing in some of the 4e changes to 5e. I'm thinking of doing away with hit dice and using healing surges (4 + con modifier for everyone) as well as giving everyone a 10 hit point kicker at the start to make level 1 and 2 more durable (Well, I guess all levels would be more durable but it would be more noticeable at levels 1 and 2). I'm also thinking about adding in the at will powers for martial attacks as manoeuvres but haven't quite figured out how to add them in with extra attacks at the moment, as in, should I scale them with extra attack or allow the effects to apply to each attack. Currently I'm leaning towards allowing the effects to apply to all attacks so that an 11th level fighter can cleave 3 times and deal their strength modifier damage to another enemy with each strike.

If I scaled them then I would probably make them kind of like cantrips that only level with each instance of extra attack and each use would use the full Attack action. A 5th level paladin cleaving would deal 2[weapon damage]+modifier to one target and 1[weapon]+modifier to a second. More overall damage but if they chose to smite, it would only affect a single target. At 11th level with improved smite, they would only be dealing that radiant damage to the primary target while the 11th level fighter would be dealing 3[weapon]+modifier to one target and 2[weapon]+modifier to a second. Feats like Great Weapon Master (or is that the fighting style?) might not be as desirable with these manoeuvres but I haven't really looked at the math to see how they compare to using the multiple attacks from Extra Attack.

But enough about what I want to do, I will be interested to see what changes you make for 4e. It definitely had a lot of options to keep up with so cutting them down would help with the learning curve for new players.
Want to work with me on this? I've actually already started the process of replacing Extra attack with 1-2-3-4[W] damage scaling at 1, 5, 11, 17 (replacing extra attack with unique class features; makes multiclassing feel different and differentiates the classes). I've started on a maneuver system for 5E too. Adding in cantrip style weapon attacks that sacrifice ability damage to gain effects wouldn't be hard at all.
 

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