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D&D 4E 5E Through a 4E Lens

A few years back, Rob Schwalb did an experiment on his blog: he took bits of the 4e cleric and reformatted them to match the visual look of previous editions of D&D. Since a couple of my players were coming from long-running 4e games (even though they played 3e before that), I decided to do the opposite: take bits of a 5e class, and reformat it to match the visual cues of 5e. I did this mainly to explain the current spellcasting system, where you prepare (or simply know) spells, and power them through spell slots (without losing the prepared spell).

The major breakthrough was turning the actual Spell Slot into the "daily power" (or "encounter", in the case of a warlock), with the effect being left to the spell the caster chooses to invest the slot into. Cantrips, on the other hand, match the 4e at-will structure as-is (with the actual cantrip being the "at-will power").

 

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Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
The only way to explain that in a 4e structure is to -- as someone commented upthread -- frame it around something like Channel Divinity (one power that can have different effects).

I disagree -- in fact, the 4e wizard already does something very much like spell slots with the Spellbook feature -- you have a number of powers available to you, but you 'prepare' only one for use. You can also model the increased power of using a lower level spell in a higher level spell slot by using a variant of the existing 4e 'augment' mechanic. So you'd end up with a power that looks something like this:

Access Spell Slot -- Wizard Utility 16
At-Will * Arcane
Free Action - Personal

Requirement: You must have expended a wizard daily power.

Effect: You may choose any wizard power of level equal to or lower than the expended power, including the wizard power that was expended. You gain a use of that power. If you gain a use of a 9th level daily power in this way, it gains Power-up 2. If you gain a use of a 5th level daily power in this way, it gains Power-up 3. If you gain a use of a 1st level daily power in this way, it gains Power-up 4.

The Power-up ability would become a rider on all arcane daily powers, much like psionic powers had augment abilities. The Power-up for Thunderwave (above) might look like this:

Power-up: For each point of Power-up gained by this power, deal an additional 1d8 thunder damage.

Using Channel Divinity to model these powers may seem more elegant at first glance, but that would basically turn every spell in the game into a 4e Channel Divinity power -- and since 5e has kept Channel Divinity in the game, that would quickly become confusing.

I do agree that the cantrips would become at-will spells, while the 'regular' spells would become daily powers. You might be able to model some class features as encounter powers, but that's where the AED analogy starts to break down when discussing 5e spellcasting (unless you're talking about the warlock, whose spell slots would all be encounter powers and who really does look a lot like a 4e wizard).
 

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Klaus

First Post
I disagree -- in fact, the 4e wizard already does something very much like spell slots with the Spellbook feature -- you have a number of powers available to you, but you 'prepare' only one for use. You can also model the increased power of using a lower level spell in a higher level spell slot by using a variant of the existing 4e 'augment' mechanic. So you'd end up with a power that looks something like this:

Access Spell Slot -- Wizard Utility 16
At-Will * Arcane
Free Action - Personal

Requirement: You must have expended a wizard daily power.

Effect: You may choose any wizard power of level equal to or lower than the expended power, including the wizard power that was expended. You gain a use of that power. If you gain a use of a 9th level daily power in this way, it gains Power-up 2. If you gain a use of a 5th level daily power in this way, it gains Power-up 3. If you gain a use of a 1st level daily power in this way, it gains Power-up 4.

The Power-up ability would become a rider on all arcane daily powers, much like psionic powers had augment abilities. The Power-up for Thunderwave (above) might look like this:

Power-up: For each point of Power-up gained by this power, deal an additional 1d8 thunder damage.

Using Channel Divinity to model these powers may seem more elegant at first glance, but that would basically turn every spell in the game into a 4e Channel Divinity power -- and since 5e has kept Channel Divinity in the game, that would quickly become confusing.

I do agree that the cantrips would become at-will spells, while the 'regular' spells would become daily powers. You might be able to model some class features as encounter powers, but that's where the AED analogy starts to break down when discussing 5e spellcasting (unless you're talking about the warlock, whose spell slots would all be encounter powers and who really does look a lot like a 4e wizard).

See, now you're creating a new 4e mechanic to mimic the 5e mechanic. Which is fine, if that is your goal. But mine is -- as I said -- to teach the 5e mechanics as efficiently as possible.

As for Channel Divinity being in the game: they *are* the same mechanic, except CD is a short rest-based, "encounter" power. It doesn't have a level, but other wise it's the same resource-management.

Man, now I wanna do a Channel Divinity card! :)
 


GMforPowergamers

Adventurer
What are you using bloodied for in 5E?


Historically, we used the equivalent of bloodied in 2E and 3E to give a -1 to all rolls (-2 in some campaigns) having used a similar mechanic in Rolemaster.

we use it as short hand for how well things are going (Are the players bloodied, they need healing, is the monster bloodied the fight almost over..)

In one of the playtests I ran we used fatigued when bloodied...but it didn't work out so well
 

keterys

First Post
Since you have no visible injuries until below half hit points, we sometimes jokingly use the term "damaged" as 5e's bloodied.

"Does he look damaged? Okay, good, he's below half hit points"
 

What are you using bloodied for in 5E?

It's actually in the 5E rules - it's a condition with no mechanical effects in 5e, but there for narrative and combat information reasons.

DESCRIBING THE EFFECTS OF DAMAGE
Dungeon Masters describe hit point loss in different ways. When your current hit point total is half or more of your hit point maximum. you typically show no signs of injury. When you drop below half your hit point maximum, you show signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises. An attack that reduces you to 0 hit points strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury or other trauma, or it simply knocks you unconscious.
(phb, 197)​
 

ingeloak

Explorer
true enough, and i did play 4E for several years. there were other issues with it, some good and bad. long story short, i didnt like it enough to keep playing once 5E came out. one of my group misses 4E very much, but for the most part all are happy to be playing 5th. it was slow, too mechanical and pure "wargame" tactical, and from a guy who plays spellcasters, it took too much away from wizards in the interest of what they termed balance. buff spells sucked, most damage was too low for the spell level. players got forced into a pigeon-hole role of "defender, leader, controller, striker" whether they wanted to or not. Essentials offered some leeway with alternative roles (Controller Ranger, etc) but it really was just 1 problem in a list.
 

KarinsDad

First Post
It's actually in the 5E rules - it's a condition with no mechanical effects in 5e, but there for narrative and combat information reasons.

DESCRIBING THE EFFECTS OF DAMAGE
Dungeon Masters describe hit point loss in different ways. When your current hit point total is half or more of your hit point maximum. you typically show no signs of injury. When you drop below half your hit point maximum, you show signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises. An attack that reduces you to 0 hit points strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury or other trauma, or it simply knocks you unconscious.
(phb, 197)​

Interesting. I will point this out to my DM.


This weekend, my Wizard PC died. We were fighting 4 lesser skeletal undead and something larger and tougher that was able to use lightning bolts. It hurled a Lightning Bolt through my PC and another PC. My PC failed his save, but Arcane Ward prevented him from going unconscious at 2 hit points. Knowing that the creature had already been hit at least once, I threw a Scorching Ray at it to take it out as fast as possible. It then proceeded to throw a second lighting bolt, this time through multiple PCs (mine included). I made the save (and did not die immediately), but promptly rolled two 1s on two death saving throws (my luck with dice has not been improving :lol:).

If I had known about this rule, at 2 hit points, I might have asked my DM about its condition and cast Fog Cloud instead, knowing that I probably could not take it out with a single spell even though it had already been hit. This is very useful information to know when making casting decisions.
 

If I had known about this rule, at 2 hit points, I might have asked my DM about its condition and cast Fog Cloud instead, knowing that I probably could not take it out with a single spell even though it had already been hit. This is very useful information to know when making casting decisions.
It's not a rule, per se. I mean, it says right up front that Dungeon Masters describe hit point loss in different ways. Some DMs might say that it's injured as soon as it takes 1hp of damage. Some might say that it's unscratched, as long as it has 1hp left. It's just, typically, a lot of DMs may choose to describe it that way.
 

KarinsDad

First Post
It's not a rule, per se. I mean, it says right up front that Dungeon Masters describe hit point loss in different ways. Some DMs might say that it's injured as soon as it takes 1hp of damage. Some might say that it's unscratched, as long as it has 1hp left. It's just, typically, a lot of DMs may choose to describe it that way.

Agreed. In this case, however, the DM is my high school aged daughter who cut her teeth on 4E, so stating that a foe is bloodied or not is pretty much second nature. She'll use the intent of the quoted text (to indicate to players during combat a rough idea of how much NPCs are damaged).
 

dream66_

First Post
So I spent a lot of time thinking about this thread and and I totally get what you were doing with describing the spell slots as 4e powers, but I think you did a disservice by not reformatting the spells themselves.

Some of the 5e spells are overly hard to read due to damage and saves being hidden in the flavor text, even 3.x listed the save in a stat block.

I tried my hand at reformatting a 5e spell for readability in somewhat of a merge of 3.x and 4e styles.
View attachment 66444

This would really make my life so much easier at the table I don't know why they didn't do this

I'm gonna do this for every spell, and if they make an OGL I'll share it.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
This would really make my life so much easier at the table I don't know why they didn't do this

I'm gonna do this for every spell, and if they make an OGL I'll share it.

They didn't do it because they knew you'd do it yourself. Just like even in 4E they had their power cards designed a certain way that might not have been particularly useful to many of us, and thus we had to re-write the power cards in a format and design that we found more useful.

They can't guess what works best for every player. They can only do something they think will be generally useful. And if it turns out not to be the best way for us... we spend the 15 minutes to make it best for ourselves.
 

dream66_

First Post
They didn't do it because they knew you'd do it yourself. Just like even in 4E they had their power cards designed a certain way that might not have been particularly useful to many of us, and thus we had to re-write the power cards in a format and design that we found more useful.

They can't guess what works best for every player. They can only do something they think will be generally useful. And if it turns out not to be the best way for us... we spend the 15 minutes to make it best for ourselves.

Never found myself reformatting 4e, and I admit that my style is not perfect for everyone it's just an opinion, but surely they didn't need to hide the saves and damage in the body text no matter what format they choose
 

Blackbrrd

First Post
Never found myself reformatting 4e, and I admit that my style is not perfect for everyone it's just an opinion, but surely they didn't need to hide the saves and damage in the body text no matter what format they choose
I reformatted the 4e powers so that instead of having a stack of cards I just had a single A4 page with all the powers and stuff for my level 15 wizard. It really helps to have all the information on one page instead of either spread over 5-6 pages or 12 power cards.

I think part of the reason that they chose the format they did was to keep the rulebooks good reads as opposed to the really sterile environment you got in the 4e books. It's one of the reasons I didn't like 4e - I could never get myself to read the books. I recently sat down with the 5e DMG and it's so full of inspiring information presented in a really good way, I am convinced that they chose wisely.
 

dream66_

First Post
I somewhat agree with this. While I enjoyed reading about the classes and the class abilities, when it came to actually reading the powers themselves I tended to skip them as I didn't find them interesting to read. Not to say I didn't enjoy 4e, I had some fun games with friends, but the powers were just so dull to read.

Having said that, I can see the benefits of having a spell written up in dream66's format when at the table, it has all the information you need when using the spell and even has some flavour text.

It litterally has the exact flavor text the 5e book does, I just took out the one line that describes what the spell does in mechanical terms and moved that to the stat block. Wound up looking about the same amount of flavor as a 4e spell. Did the same thing to 3e fireball it was still 80% flavor
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Yeah, presentation is very powerful.

Different people will want different things, and, if we can base our analysis on the perceived reception of 4e and 5e, more people want the "wordy, hidden" version. The practicality of it is only one variable in this situation and the weight given to each will depend upon their preferences. You can probably figure mine out by this post. :D
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
Another wording for "daily powers":

(first-level spell slot card):
Cast a wizard spell at the 1st level of arcane magic.
You cast a spell of 1st level that you have prepared.

(second-level spell slot card):
Cast a wizard spell at the 2nd level of arcane magic.
You cast a spell of 2nd level or lower that you have prepared.
Some lower-level spells have heightened effects when cast at higher levels of magic.

A player of a wizard character would need one such card per spell slot.
The cards could be rotated or turned over as each one was used.
(The wording of each card would be kept simple by not referring to multiple uses.)

The wording on Bard cards would refer to "a spell . . . that you know" instead of "have prepared."
This way, the players can compare the cards they would be using of one class with the cards of another class to see the differences more clearly.
 

Authweight

First Post
I really like your approach with thinking of the slot as the power and the spell as a potential effect of that power. That's a much clearer way of explaining how wizard casting works in 5e than the way they do it now, at least for me. Bravo.
 

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