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D&D 4E 4E's "Proud Nails"

pemerton

Legend
Another vote for milestones. Before they got rid of them, the limits on how many items could be activated, which grew with milestones made.
My group quite likes milestones, and we still use the pre-Essentials item limits. The paladin also has Meliorating Plate (+1 AC per milestone reached).
 

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Chris_Nightwing

First Post
I'll also bring up milestones, specifically with rings. Rings love slaughter, and only let you use their superpowers when you've killed enough bad guys?

Intelligence bonus adding to AC.. kinda bugged me.

Monsters with two different initiatives that played havoc with effects you had previously relied on.

The funny XP shift that happened when you jumped a tier.
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
Wow, a lot of these proud nails are stuff that makes 4e my favorite rpg...shared power structure between classes, smooth math, and monster castes (minion, elite, etc.) continue to be big hits for me. But I guess that's why I'm not much concerned with 5e.

They could have just had you gain an action point each encounter, but not for the first encounter each day. Wouldn't that work?
It works great!
 

Chris_Nightwing

First Post
Wow, a lot of these proud nails are stuff that makes 4e my favorite rpg...shared power structure between classes, smooth math, and monster castes (minion, elite, etc.) continue to be big hits for me. But I guess that's why I'm not much concerned with 5e.

I don't think these issues are proud nails, as defined by the OP. I think they are a legitimate way to run an RPG, but they are not to everyone's taste. (Also the math is not smooth!)
 

Bobbum Man

First Post
All-in-all I think that 4E had a lot of great ideas, but some of the implementations stick out as "proud nails" to me:

Healing Surges - Essentially reserve hit points...good idea for tracking longer-term attrition, but poorly implemented in my opinion. I take issue with everything resetting at full after a night's rest. Also, I feel that the mechanic could have been expanded to encompass other resources. For instance, healing surges (tangent: terrible name) could have been used in place of action points and to fuel rituals.

Rituals: Separating game buggering story powers into rituals was a great idea, IMO. However, they were cost prohibitive in games that prominently featured magic item marts and strictly observed treasure parcels. Also, I would have liked to see rituals take on a more skill-challenge-esque approach so that multiple party members could participate. I feel that the thematic limitations of: "Guy who stabs things real good" could be overcome if stabby guy can help his wizard friend open a portal to valhalla somehow.

Skill Challenges: Another great idea, but lackluster implementation I feel. My main gripe here is that the intended purpose was to get ALL party members participating in the event, through creative skill usage, but the mathematical reality is that the system encouraged players to spam their highest skill again and again, or else you were actively contributing to the party's failure. Good DM's can run interesting skill challenges, but the system isn't "idiot proof" enough for my tastes. I think it would have been better to guage victory through some metric besides simple success counting. Also, I dislike the idea of scaling DC's.

Power Structure: Personally, I don't find the classes to be as same-y as people claim, even if they all use the AEDU structure. I've found that Fighters play significantly different from Paladins, who play significantly different from clerics, who play differently than Bards, who play differently Rogues, who themselves are perfectly distinct even compared to Rangers. No, my problem is that: 2[Damage Die] + pre-rendered effect is boring to metied tooclosely to grid/minis. I would rather have seen powers that were designed more narratively than tactically.

Number/Option Bloat: I used to use the character builder, because it was easier than poring through two or three books to build a character. Now I pore thorugh two or three books to build a character, because it's easier than sorting through hundreds of available feats and powers. Seriously, I would rather see fewer options with stronger decision points than a bloated, tumorous mass of options. It's like trying to pick all of the pineapples out of a jello salad...and who even takes guild feats anyway? On that note, I would also like to see numbers bloat mitigated. I would be happy if a character's total modifiers were less than the range of the randomizer (d20).
 

wedgeski

First Post
I have a couple, but again, what some see as flaws in the system, I see as strengths. Anyway:

- Milestones. A valiant attempt to encourage continuous play without resting, but not interesting enough given their effect on magic item use. All-but gone from my game already.

- Feats. Too many; way, way too many. Feat choice when building a new character is insane. I'm not against feats as a concept, though.

- I also agree that Skill Challenges aren't idiot proof, but after four years, the concept of a self-contained, collective challenge with multiple players and branching options is now well and truly entrenched in my brain. For that reason I have to say they were an excellent addition to the game.
 

mkill

Adventurer
I tried a skill challenge at the very start, but then it didn't make enough difference from my previous 10 years of "players decide and narrate their actions and you call for a skill check when success is in question". The game worked fine without them for the next 4 years.

Really, I never thought skill challenges were more than a nice little subsystem that you can add if you think you need it, but according to the Internet they are kind of a big deal in 4E.
 

A

amerigoV

Guest
This is also a 3e Nail as well - CR/XP budgets for combats coupled with XP for defeating monsters. At first, I loved them. It both made perfect sense and helped balance out some of the encounters. But then it basically lead to expectations from players that every single encounter was there to be won by combat. Sure, you could overcome an enemy in non-combat ways, but that did not always guarantee the DM would count it.

All in all, it created a more sterile game IMO (level 1, fight 8 goblins, level 3, fight 8 orcs, level fight 8 ogres, etc).
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
My group quite likes milestones, and we still use the pre-Essentials item limits. The paladin also has Meliorating Plate (+1 AC per milestone reached).

Milestones. A valiant attempt to encourage continuous play without resting, but not interesting enough given their effect on magic item use. All-but gone from my game already.

There are two problems with milestones, that stand out for me:

1. The proud nail part is that they are not very adaptable as a mechanic. The concept is easy enough to adapt to various styles, but the mechanics don't give you much to work with. And that directly ties into the second part ...

2. Milestones represent a failure of nerve. They are too weak to do what they set out to do--which is to encourage continuous play, but too ticky-tacky in their implementation to blend in seamlessly with everything else.

A truly great mechanic is one that is subtle in appearance, but profound in its implications and effects. Most mechanics will fall short, but Milestones manage the amazing trick of precisely reversing that--an "in your face" mechanic that does very little. Contrast this, for example, with something like healing surges--in your face, but also very strong at doing exactly what it sets out to do. Or at the opposite extreme, combining various skills into Athletics--not terribly important, but nonetheless with real, subtle implications.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
There are two problems with milestones, that stand out for me:

1. The proud nail part is that they are not very adaptable as a mechanic. The concept is easy enough to adapt to various styles, but the mechanics don't give you much to work with. And that directly ties into the second part ...

2. Milestones represent a failure of nerve. They are too weak to do what they set out to do--which is to encourage continuous play, but too ticky-tacky in their implementation to blend in seamlessly with everything else.

A truly great mechanic is one that is subtle in appearance, but profound in its implications and effects. Most mechanics will fall short, but Milestones manage the amazing trick of precisely reversing that--an "in your face" mechanic that does very little. Contrast this, for example, with something like healing surges--in your face, but also very strong at doing exactly what it sets out to do. Or at the opposite extreme, combining various skills into Athletics--not terribly important, but nonetheless with real, subtle implications.

I think my biggest problem with milestones is that as defined they don't accomplish, at all, what they set out to do. Action Points are not the defining "attribute" that will determine whether the party will continue forward with their adventuring day, it's daily resources.

The milestone is a stumbling block in the narrative, as well as the mechanics. There is nothing noteworthy about the milestone, per se, as they are mechanically expected. You get them every two encounters. That in itself is a mechanism that robs the DM of pacing variability.

What if the DM wants the party to deplete itself of Action points and not get any until an actual encounter deemed a milestone? The expectations of the mechanic now interfere with the desired pacing for the adventure.

In my game I changed things around. Milestones are truly treated as milestones. The PCs get them when they achieve something noteworthy. In addition to the Action point recovery they also can choose to recover one daily resource. The choice is either 2 healing surges, or a daily power.

With this change the DM is once again in control of pacing. He can have an adventuring day that lasts exactly as long as he thinks is worthwhile.
 

FireLance

Legend
Really, I never thought skill challenges were more than a nice little subsystem that you can add if you think you need it, but according to the Internet they are kind of a big deal in 4E.
This comment actually made me think a bit more about skill challenges, and I've realized that (for me, at least) their real contribution was in codifying non-combat challenges - in particular, presenting an (ostensibly) objective measure of difficulty to which I could tie XP award and other rewards. For someone who had always been uncomfortable about awarding XP for overcoming non-combat challenges (How much was fair? Did I give too little or too much?), it made me more prepared to add them to an adventure and allow them to contribute to the XP gained by the PCs.
 

GreyICE

First Post
The DMG actually gave 2 encounters as a guideline. They mentioned that one epic encounter (a showdown with the BBEG's #2) might count as a milestone, while 3 smaller encounters might not qualify.
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
I don't think these issues are proud nails, as defined by the OP. I think they are a legitimate way to run an RPG, but they are not to everyone's taste. (Also the math is not smooth!)
Maybe I should have written 'smoother.' :)

I tried a skill challenge at the very start, but then it didn't make enough difference from my previous 10 years of "players decide and narrate their actions and you call for a skill check when success is in question". The game worked fine without them for the next 4 years.

Really, I never thought skill challenges were more than a nice little subsystem that you can add if you think you need it, but according to the Internet they are kind of a big deal in 4E.
Ditto; my experiences with SCs have ranged from boooring to mediocre. So I went back to old school style within a year of 4e's release.

This is also a 3e Nail as well - CR/XP budgets for combats coupled with XP for defeating monsters. At first, I loved them. It both made perfect sense and helped balance out some of the encounters. But then it basically lead to expectations from players that every single encounter was there to be won by combat. Sure, you could overcome an enemy in non-combat ways, but that did not always guarantee the DM would count it.

All in all, it created a more sterile game IMO (level 1, fight 8 goblins, level 3, fight 8 orcs, level fight 8 ogres, etc).
One of the sundry reasons I don't use XP anymore. :cool:
 

Balesir

Adventurer
Several folks are saying "milestones", but I would spread the net just a tad wider than that. The tie of "extended rests" into the game-world-day (and game-time, in general) is both a poor fit with other aspects of the system and the cause of several issues for certain styles of play.

My view is that the resource recovery mechanism should always have been tied to the encounters/milestones/etc. system, not to in-game time (which is arbitrary and imaginary, after all). The milestones were intended for a cogent reason (encouraging - but not forcing - extension of the "adventuring day"), but, as others have said, they were fired off at half-cock. Regaining "daily" resources or +1 to all defences and to hit modifiers would have been more credible milestone awards. And I say this as DM for a group that still uses milestones and magic item uses...

Extended rests giving benefits scaled according to the number of encounters/milestones since the last one couls also have been a benefit, I think.

Skill Challenges I think were a step in the right direction, but they were never really finished as a design element. I want systems of comparable scope and interest to the combat system for the other "pillars" of adventure. SCs were more than we had in earlier editions, but they should have been a starting point, not a finished design. If we get proper systems for social and exploration situations in D&DN, that will be a real strike in its favour.
 

Mengu

First Post
The following occasionally bother me, but aren't significant enough to disrupt game play:

Can't charge (or lunge and attack) something 2 squares away because there is only 1 square between the creatures, but can charge something 8-10 squares away.

Using AoE's while blind, with no penalty.

Characters who can't make a basic attack.

My gnome sorcerer being able to lift and carry more weight than the goliath battlemind.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
They could have just had you gain an action point each encounter, but not for the first encounter each day. Wouldn't that work?

The problem with giving out twice as many action points (minus 1, in the case of this suggestion) in a party full of paragon-tier warlords, is that every time someone uses an action point, all of the other warlords give him bonuses that all stack!. In addition, at paragon, everyone gets their own bonuses for using action points, as well!

This typically meant (in my game), that they would pick the two or three enemies most likely to have interesting abilities and make sure they never got a first turn.

Just adding more monsters would have increased the difficulty, but I would have had to decrease the XP awards, if I wanted to keep them from skyrocketing through the levels (and this group would have rebelled, if I had dropped the XP awards).

All that said, I do like what milestones were meant to accomplish--I just think the bookkeeping made it tedious (especially if the party does not take an extended rest in between sessions).

One thing that might work to help extend the adventuring day without making all of the encounters so easy to walk through would be to have the action point recharge whenever the PC misses two attacks in a row (but still only allow one action point to be used per encounter, of course). This would help mitigate the grind-factor of low dice rolls and provide long-term endurance to the party, without over-powering classes (the warlord) that reward action-point usage.

And, it's easy to track. It might seem like more to keep up with in the midst of combat, but I suspect that every player remembers when they miss two in a row.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Using AoE's while blind, with no penalty.

This could be done in previous editions, as well. In fact, prior to 3e, a fireball's area of effect was based on volume, and, thus, could clear an entire corridor, even around a bend (but, of course, a poorly calculated fireball could result in the mage/magic user roasting self and allies, as well).

No sight required.
 

pemerton

Legend
There are two problems with milestones, that stand out for me
I'm not sure you have in mind with your (1), but tend to agree with your (2).

Action Points are not the defining "attribute" that will determine whether the party will continue forward with their adventuring day, it's daily resources.
Dailies are important, but my group also treats APs as a big deal. Especially at paragon, where they produce extra buffs.

The milestone is a stumbling block in the narrative, as well as the mechanics. There is nothing noteworthy about the milestone, per se, as they are mechanically expected. You get them every two encounters. That in itself is a mechanism that robs the DM of pacing variability.

What if the DM wants the party to deplete itself of Action points and not get any until an actual encounter deemed a milestone?
As someone said, the DMG suggests varying this with encounter difficulty. THis doesn't go all the way to meeting your concern, though - but I think its just a part of 4e to assoicate narrative significance with degee of mechanical challenge.

The tie of "extended rests" into the game-world-day (and game-time, in general) is both a poor fit with other aspects of the system and the cause of several issues for certain styles of play.

My view is that the resource recovery mechanism should always have been tied to the encounters/milestones/etc. system, not to in-game time (which is arbitrary and imaginary, after all).
Agreed. Skill challenges to regulate access to extend rests are the second-best solution that I use.
 

Mengu

First Post
This could be done in previous editions, as well. In fact, prior to 3e, a fireball's area of effect was based on volume, and, thus, could clear an entire corridor, even around a bend (but, of course, a poorly calculated fireball could result in the mage/magic user roasting self and allies, as well).

No sight required.

Eh... it felt fine in previous editions. Feels off for 4e. Because you are not necessarily fireballing. You might be using Come and Get It. Or you might be using a power that selectively targets one creature in burst like Spirit of the Hawk's Wind, or selectively targets X creatures in burst like Flame Spiral.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
1. The proud nail part is that they are not very adaptable as a mechanic. The concept is easy enough to adapt to various styles, but the mechanics don't give you much to work with. And that directly ties into the second part ...

2. Milestones represent a failure of nerve. They are too weak to do what they set out to do--which is to encourage continuous play, but too ticky-tacky in their implementation to blend in seamlessly with everything else.

I'm not sure you have in mind with your (1), but tend to agree with your (2).

Well, the concept is one of heroic pacing in the narrative--the characters push on despite their injuries and fatigue. That's well enough. But the mechanics of getting one milestone per two (meaningful) encounters (even if you vary it), and this basicaly unlocking action points (and before, a few item activations)--besides being ticky tacky and weak, doesn't give you much mechanical levers to move, no decisions to make, etc.

It would be a major improvement, for example, if action points had been sufficiently nifty that each milestone gave you the choice of one action point, one daily recharge, or maybe a chance at a surge coming back (higher chance for high surge characters). Get that balanced well, and that is an interesting decision that affects everything that comes after in the adventure. Plus, having three things, if you want to vary this for style (or a particular adventure), you can drop one of them or replace it with something else, for even more interest. That's off the top of my head. I'm sure that playtesting could find even better choices.

Then, make the acquisition of milestones have a player-driven component somehow. Perhaps a "milestone" typically requires completing two or three related things. If you beat the goblin guards, steal the treasure, and rescue the prisoner, get a milestone. Miss any of those, no milestone for you! Or make them that tough or tougher to get, unless done in pursuit of a minor or major quest. Suddenly, you've made the personal quest system more interesting. Or set up part of milestone acquisition in skill challenges--participate, and you get a bump towards them, pass or aid another, you don't. Milestones are supposed to increase participation, but yet we have the original skill challenge rules needing to require participation by fiat to work right.

There's a heck of a lot of conceptual area left unexplored in those interactions.
 

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