6 players, 5 hours, 4th edition

Olgar Shiverstone said:
For things like stun and sleep where you would lose an action, did that mean you lose an action this round, plus an action next round, save at the end of next round? So it was in part dependent on when you acted?

Separate question: How big were the rooms? With lots of enemies and the movement emphasis, I'd expect we need to plan bigger rooms.
Save at the end of your turn. So:

1. Monster goes before PC, stuns PC. PC doesn't get any actions, but still saves at the end of his turn. Monster goes before PC, misses, PC acts.

Or

2. Monster goes before PC, stuns PC. PC doesn't get any actions, and fails save at end of his turn. Monster goes before PC, stuns PC. Repeat.

That said, with the 'call out' abilities, forced movement, and other things, I'm hopeful you won't get those situations very often. As a DM, I've always played monsters 'realistically'; eg, they'll engage a threatening opponent rather than beat on the guy that can't fight back and ignore the guy sticking the sword through their ribs. So it probably doesn't come up in my games often anyway.


The rooms were mostly 150 square squares (isn't that awkward). Some rectangular, some more square. (You enter a large square room, approximatley 150 square squares, 15 squares long and 10 squares wide. Ugh) Enough to provide some tactical movement, especially with pits and traps and such to break things up. All were small enough that range was never an issue, really, except for a couple hand thrown weapons.

Movement is X squares (the eladrin ranger was 6, and I think the heavy armor wearers were down to 4) per move action. Running is +2 movement to that, so if I ran as a move action, I moved 8. Trade in my standard for a second move, and I could 'double run' 16. Didn't seem to be any 'must be in a straight line' crap (which is good).

Also, charge is a standard action, and you can move around. The only restriction was that the last two squares be towards your enemy. So that's another welcome change.
 

Shroomy

Adventurer
From what I've read, this particular kobold-centric adventure was created to show off combat, trap, and PC mechanics. The other one (set in Sembia) seems to explore other mechanical facets of the 4e, like skill challenges. Rodrigo, have you had the chance or are you going to play the other LFR scenarios that are running during DDXP?
 
Rodrigo: Speculate on playing w/out minis, grid?

It's seemed that 4e would be just as or more dependent on a battlemat than 3e for keeping things straight given rules and powers that depend on positioning. Rodrigo, your comments on the "chess game" between fighter and kobolds especially made me wonder what you think about that based on play experience. We tend to hear designers say "sure, you can play without minis" but the point isn't whether but how easily, given the way combat works in the game. Could you imagine those running those "shifty" kobolds properly and fairly without a grid? That last sentence is not rhetorical; I'm wondering what Rodrigo thinks even if he was on the player's side of the screen.

Thanks!
 
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Interesting.

I just realized I disagree on just about every point Rodrigo made. For example, I like the idea of 1 square instead of 5 feet. I'm happy as a little girl they're tossing the 1-2-1 movement stuff. And so on.

And yet...

...Rod has played the game. I haven't.

Sorta makes me wonder if my happiness is a pipe dream and - in actual play - I'll be wishing to go back to the 3E stuff I find so cumbersome and wonky now.

Food for thought.

The other interesting (to me) result of DDXP is that "many" folks that were anti-4E or ambivalent around it are changing their tune to one of positivity.

Comforting.

W.P.
 
Shroomy said:
From what I've read, this particular kobold-centric adventure was created to show off combat, trap, and PC mechanics. The other one (set in Sembia) seems to explore other mechanical facets of the 4e, like skill challenges. Rodrigo, have you had the chance or are you going to play the other LFR scenarios that are running during DDXP?
No, I didn't know far enough in advance whether or not I'd have that weekend free (I could count on Friday night though). And I wanted to see if other ENfolk or local friends wanted to go. So by the time I got around to trying to get into more than the one game, they were pretty well sold out.

If what you say is true, that's unfortunate. Given the number of spots, I'd have rather had more rounded scenarios. Dropping one of the combats in mine in exchange for something more fluffy would have been welcome.
 
Magus Coeruleus said:
It's seemed that 4e would be just as or more dependent on a battlemat than 3e for keeping things straight given rules and powers that depend on positioning. Rodrigo, your comments on the "chess game" between fighter and kobolds especially made me wonder what you think about that based on play experience. We tend to hear designers say "sure, you can play without minis" but the point isn't whether but how easily, given the way combat works in the game. Could you imagine those running those "shifty" kobolds properly and fairly without a grid? That last sentence is not rhetorical; I'm wondering what Rodrigo thinks even if he was on the player's side of the screen.
JLhBurnett said:
I really hate using miniatures and grid-maps in my combats, and the seeming reliance on such things for 4th edition (even more than 3rd edition) has been the one major turn-off for me. This review makes it sound like much of the new mechanics revolve around sliding little plastic people around the board. How easy or hard do you think it would be to run 4th Edition without maps or minis?
To be upfront, I *like* the tactical aspects of the game -- I came to RPGs lo those many moons ago from an AH wargame background, where if it didn't have a 50 page rulebook, 5000 counters, and 100 charts it was crap.

I think it will be a little harder than in 3e. Reach I think will be less important, which makes things easier, but there did seem to be an awful lot of abilities based around moving in and out of combat, etc. So I think net will be more problematic.

That said, I think if you just abstracted stuff to 'in melee, out of melee, within spell range, within bow range' you could manage quite well. Then the specifics don't matter -- the kobold shifts from melee range to out of melee range, and the fighter on his turn spends a movement action to move back into melee range. And so forth. Spell ranges are in squares, so I'd probably look at them and come up with a sort of category system that made specific range unimportant. The longbow had a 20/40 square range, so it never once came up in the game -- I'd probably just assume everyone was within the first range increment for bows unless we were outdoors.

Oh, that brings up another point -- no more 5' step. You can spend a movement action to move 5' without drawing an AoO, but no more free 5' step. That was a hard one to get out of our heads.

What will make things harder for the PbP folks is the immediate actions (like the ranger's Fox's Cunning) that will increase the back and forth between player and GM. And also, the number of things that a player can do now that affects another player's rolls will make it harder to process things out of order. So you'd end up waiting for people to post so you could keep it all straight, or have to retcon a lot.
 
LostSoul said:
What was it about the second encounter/room that you thought was bad design? Why were the players frustrated? What kind of things did they/you say? How did the DM react?

Did the rest of the group enjoy planning out their tactical maneuvers before or at the beginning of the encounter? Was there a lot of "metagame" talk - "If you go here and do this, then I can do this for the win"?
The trap was just bad, especially for first level characters. If I step on a plate and get whacked by the trap that's fine, but to be stuck, take damage each turn if I fail a save (and remember, 50/50 chance of that), take more damage and make another save if someone else steps on a trap trying to rescue me, and it adds up to a lot of frustration. The paladin set off the trap in the first action, and literally did nothing else for that entire combat but stand there and get pelted with darts. l I took a chance and teleported in front of her to push her back to a square we knew was safe, but if the square I teleported to was trapped, it would have started the chain reaction all over again.

I'm not saying we couldn't have played it smarter, but it really was not a good choice for first level characters, and an especially bad choice to highlight the new game.

There was more metagame talk towards the end, and like I said, that rather bugs me. There's a continuum of helping newbies learn the game, to making suggestions that are reasonable and within the context of the game, and planning out a combat ahead of time. It was getting a little too close to the latter for me. There's a difference between playing the characters based on what the situation is, and having a playbook.

Some people like that part of the game, I just find it rather rote after a while, and it annoys the crap out of a lot of people, because it's a short step from that to one person dominating and essentially playing other characters.
 
Nymrohd said:
A couple of questions Rodrigo.
How much do you think the experience was affected by the rooms? I got the feeling that the dungeon rooms were too constraining for tactics to fully develop.
You mentioned that combat synergies would streamline combat rotations. How effectively did it feel that monsters and terrain could disrupt that?
Not much, except for the trap room. There was enough room to maneuver, flank, etc. It was a little crowded at some points, but they were natural chokepoints (for example, the door in the tetherball room) that are normal and part of any tactically minded game.

The DM took great delight in tormenting the fighter with the kobolds shiftiness :) It looks like there will be some ways, but I think the playing field has definitely been shifted towards the players again. They have a lot of extra abilities to master, but the DM has all thier stuff to learn, plus the specifics idiosyncracies for each particular monster. If the majority of them have something out of the ordinary, it's going to entail a lot of homework, and I think a lot of DMs will have a hard time meeting the players' level of efficiency.
 

HeinorNY

Visitor
Rodrigo, I just DMed a series of kobolds solo encounters with my girlfriend, she was playing the warlock. Ok it's not by the same experience you had, but one thing I felt was that WoW symptom of creating the best opening combo, or depending on the type of encounter, 2 or 3 combos.
For example:
When she faced a kobold skirmisher far way, the opening combo was Warlock's Curse, Ray of Frost, move back. Monster is slowed, next round Witchfire, action point to throw another Ray of Frost and move back.

Of course those were mostly solo encounters, and maybe the game doesn't that well for solo gaming, or maybe repeated kobold encounters will most likely be a big repetition, but what I ask you: Did you see that "button smashing", best combos going on with everyone most of the time?

I gotta tell ya, after some time it gets boring. But the overall feeling, in the obviously not so real 4E session, was positive.
 

Khairn

Visitor
Thanks Rodrigo.

it was refreshing to see a review that actually contained both positive and negative opinions. Lots of food for thought.

Rodrigo Istalindir said:
What will make things harder for the PbP folks is the immediate actions (like the ranger's Fox's Cunning) that will increase the back and forth between player and GM. And also, the number of things that a player can do now that affects another player's rolls will make it harder to process things out of order. So you'd end up waiting for people to post so you could keep it all straight, or have to retcon a lot.
That was something I had begun to notice as well. I don't play a lot of 3E PbP, but it does indeed look like a number of 4E features will make that type of gaming more difficult.
 

Nymrohd

Visitor
By the way, judging from the fluff descriptions of the abilities, do you really think that once people are familiar with the game tactics will feel like metagaming rather than sound in-character attack patterns, especially for a group that has worked together? I often think that metagaming is simply there in lack of roleplay.

As for the squares instead of feet; that rules allows for squares to be anything. We don't all understand what 5 feet are visually:)

And yes this review certainly restates the fact that 4E DMs will need to do a lot more tactical planning before encounters. A lot depends on how much of a DM's uptime is cut back by the DMG.
 
ainatan said:
Rodrigo, I just DMed a series of kobolds solo encounters with my girlfriend, she was playing the warlock. Ok it's not by the same experience you had, but one thing I felt was that WoW symptom of creating the best opening combo, or depending on the type of encounter, 2 or 3 combos.
For example:
When she faced a kobold skirmisher far way, the opening combo was Warlock's Curse, Ray of Frost, move back. Monster is slowed, next round Witchfire, action point to throw another Ray of Frost and move back.

Of course those were mostly solo encounters, and maybe the game doesn't that well for solo gaming, or maybe repeated kobold encounters will most likely be a big repetition, but what I ask you: Did you see that "button smashing", best combos going on with everyone most of the time?

I gotta tell ya, after some time it gets boring. But the overall feeling, in the obviously not so real 4E session, was positive.
While I obviously cannot say since I haven't played 4E yet. But I imagine the fact that multiple-opponents at once, coupled with opponents doing much more variety of special abilities, could counter that.
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
Rodrigo Istalindir said:
each turn if I fail a save (and remember, 50/50 chance of that),
Actually it's a 55% chance to save (11 numbers vs. 9 numbers) :p

I wondered why they just didn't make it 11+ instead of 10+ since first reading about this mechanic
 

Nymrohd

Visitor
Still as someone with a lvl 60 of each class in WoW, I doubt that D&D will not offer new powers at higher levels. In WoW for most classes the damage rotation is established in the first 10 levels.
 
ainatan said:
Rodrigo, I just DMed a series of kobolds solo encounters with my girlfriend, she was playing the warlock. Ok it's not by the same experience you had, but one thing I felt was that WoW symptom of creating the best opening combo, or depending on the type of encounter, 2 or 3 combos.
For example:
When she faced a kobold skirmisher far way, the opening combo was Warlock's Curse, Ray of Frost, move back. Monster is slowed, next round Witchfire, action point to throw another Ray of Frost and move back.

Of course those were mostly solo encounters, and maybe the game doesn't that well for solo gaming, or maybe repeated kobold encounters will most likely be a big repetition, but what I ask you: Did you see that "button smashing", best combos going on with everyone most of the time?

I gotta tell ya, after some time it gets boring. But the overall feeling, in the obviously not so real 4E session, was positive.
Well, not to that extent -- it's still pretty new, and the group hadn't been playing together for long, but I think I saw some stirrings of it, and I think it could be a big issue.

Case in point: At one point, they used the fear/AoO/smoosh combo. Cool, that was a good use of tactics and teamwork. Then in the next encounter, it was 'let's do the fear/AoO thing again'. So quickly they were learning what worked and what didn't. MMOs are Ender-esque breeding grounds for ruthelssly efficient players :)

In a 3.x game, that would likely only happen once in a while -- the wizard probably wouldn't memorize it that often, saves would get too good, the sorceror might take it but it's not cool and blasty, so maybe not, and even then at levels it's likely to be effective, spells are still a limited resource.

But, take that and make it an at-will or per-encounter ability, and all of a sudden it becomes a potent combo that could come up every time. And that leaves the DM scrambling to come up with a counter, and that can cause problems because then the players involved think they're being screwed.
 
Nymrohd said:
Still as someone with a lvl 60 of each class in WoW, I doubt that D&D will not offer new powers at higher levels. In WoW for most classes the damage rotation is established in the first 10 levels.
And that's a big 'if' we don't know yet. A *lot* is hanging on the mix of new powers vs old powers that get a little bit better, I think. That's a tough one to balance, especially across 30 levels where the game isn't intended to be a treadmill to the end-game.
 

dystmesis

Visitor
ainatan said:
Rodrigo, I just DMed a series of kobolds solo encounters with my girlfriend, she was playing the warlock. Ok it's not by the same experience you had, but one thing I felt was that WoW symptom of creating the best opening combo, or depending on the type of encounter, 2 or 3 combos.
For example:
When she faced a kobold skirmisher far way, the opening combo was Warlock's Curse, Ray of Frost, move back. Monster is slowed, next round Witchfire, action point to throw another Ray of Frost and move back.

Of course those were mostly solo encounters, and maybe the game doesn't that well for solo gaming, or maybe repeated kobold encounters will most likely be a big repetition, but what I ask you: Did you see that "button smashing", best combos going on with everyone most of the time?

I gotta tell ya, after some time it gets boring. But the overall feeling, in the obviously not so real 4E session, was positive.
As opposed to a 3e warlock at level 1? Eldritch blast, eldritch blast, move back 30 feet, eldritch blast, then... eldritch blast? :) Or if you're smart, you pick the summon swarm invocation. Then your round-by-round tactics are summon swarm, summon swarm, five foot step back, summon swarm, etc. :)
 

Kraydak

Visitor
dystmesis said:
As opposed to a 3e warlock at level 1? Eldritch blast, eldritch blast, move back 30 feet, eldritch blast, then... eldritch blast? :) Or if you're smart, you pick the summon swarm invocation. Then your round-by-round tactics are summon swarm, summon swarm, five foot step back, summon swarm, etc. :)
You just made Rodrigo Istalindir's point: per-encounter/at-will abilities reduce tactical variety. Warlocks, of course, are 3e's flagship at-will ability based characters.
 

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