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4E Am I crazy? I've just gotten a hankering to play 4e again...

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Hey let's get to brass tacks here.

I've got PHB1, 2, and 3, DMG 1 and 2, MM 1, 2 and 3; Divine Power and Psionic Power. (as well as the two FR and two DS books). I figure I probably want Martial Power 1 & 2, Arcane Power, and Primal Power.

I'm sure I can run a game with those products. BUT, many people have brought up other resources that I have not heard of or ignored during the 4e time period.

Maybe some folks can list their favorite official WotC D&D 4e resources, 3rd Party resources, and finally Online resources - and why those are useful to them?

Thanks in advance.

Here's a list of WotC D&D 4e books

 

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I've got PHB1, 2, and 3, DMG 1 and 2, MM 1, 2 and 3; Divine Power and Psionic Power. (as well as the two FR and two DS books). I figure I probably want Martial Power 1 & 2, Arcane Power, and Primal Power.

I'm sure I can run a game with those products.
Absolutely.

You may also decide which 'updates' to run with, or whether to use any variants, or even not use everything. Around June 2010, I think it was, MM dropped an update bomb on 4e that brought it into line with Essentials - restoring some of the imbalance between casters, especially wizards, and non-casters.
There's a number of 'feat taxes,' that it can be a good idea to toss out or give for free, depending on what you want from your game. PH2 introduced 'Expertise' feats, for instance (and Essentials turned them up to 11), and some DMs prefer not to use them, or to throw them in for free.
You can cut whole sources if you feel they don't fit your game world.
PH3 Hybrids open up new PC possibilities but up the system-mastery factor - it's possible to build some pretty deeply disappointing hybrids.


Maybe some folks can list their favorite official WotC D&D 4e resources, 3rd Party resources, and finally Online resources - and why those are useful to them?
The official on-line resources were just taken down. So, bad timing, that. They were quite convenient.

There are some pretty nice DM-side resources you're missing:
Plane Above & Plane Below (both build on but do not supersede Manual of the Planes, but you can use either of them without it... which is a tad amazing, when you think about it)
Open Grave
The Draconomicons (chromatic & metallic)

The Essentials-era books you might consider would be:
the Rules Compendium, which is just handy, it's small, it's got the latest & best Skill Challenge, and there's only one or two updates built into it you might want to roll back. (Mainly items, post-E, magic items were made more significant, and item-daily limits were removed, then many of them were declared 'rare' to return them to the DM side of the screen. FWIW.)
The Monster Vault, which has MM3-updated classic monsters, and came with a bunch of handy tokens.
Heroes of the Feywild, which was about the best thing post-E, the classes in it are not intentionally imbalanced, and the Skald and Berserker are actually kinda cool.
 
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Undrave

Hero
Hey let's get to brass tacks here.

I've got PHB1, 2, and 3, DMG 1 and 2, MM 1, 2 and 3; Divine Power and Psionic Power. (as well as the two FR and two DS books). I figure I probably want Martial Power 1 & 2, Arcane Power, and Primal Power.

I'm sure I can run a game with those products. BUT, many people have brought up other resources that I have not heard of or ignored during the 4e time period.

Maybe some folks can list their favorite official WotC D&D 4e resources, 3rd Party resources, and finally Online resources - and why those are useful to them?

Thanks in advance.

Here's a list of WotC D&D 4e books

Personally I loved the lore in the pages of Primal Power. And of all my 4e books, the only ones I didn't put into Storage are that, Martial Power 1 (I never got Martial Power 2) and Plane Above. Plane Above has some amazing stuff in there that I just adore.

I recall Arcane Power having support for Archer bards so that was neat.
 

JeffB

Legend
I prefer Essentials for several reasons

I prefer some of the classes vs. the Core class counterparts (Slayer vs. Great Weapon Fighter in PHB for example)

I prefer the format- As I essentially (npi) run "Moldvay/Cook/Marsh" type S&S games when it comes to races/classes, Heroes of the Fallen Lands was the perfect fit. Hand it to the players and tell them to have at it with anything in this book. I also dig the reduced size with larger page count and easier to read presentation. And the art is generally an improvement in Essentials vs. earlier core products which is not a big deal, but..

If I run 4E BTB- the included counters in the boxed sets are a godsend as I don't do minis (but normally I run a very "13Th Aged" version of 4E suited for TotM)

That said, I can run a Core game and be fine with it as long as I update all the Math that came out around the MM3/Essentials release.

My favorites

WOTC
Heroes of the Fallen Lands
Dungeon Masters Guide (probably best DMG ever, for teaching someone how to be a DM- I've noticed the 5E DMG has stolen a fair amount of text from it)
DMG 2 (A seriously good toolbox plus Robin Laws(!), Companion Characters, Better treatment of Skill Challenges etc,)
DM'S Kit (repetitive of the DMG- BUT- fantastic adventure included)
Monster Vault (and another fun adventure)
Threats to the Nentir Vale
Hammerfast
Vor-Rukoth
Manual of the Planes
Open Grave
Mordenkainens Magnificent Emporium
Dungeon Delve (great for impromptu adventure/map/location needs)

Goodman Games 4E adventures
Isle of the Sea Drake
Punjar Trilogy
Forgotten Portal
Mists of Madness
In Search of Adventure (low level S&S mini adventures-easily hacked)

And anything Sasquatch did for Primeval Thule 4E.

Best thing I miss is the WOTC tools- Monster Builder and Character creator especially.
 



Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Makes sense. My ideal D&D game would be some weird admixture of 5E and 4E - taking the best of each.

4E was able to do a lot right but was (1) before its time, and (2) lacked sufficient input from its target audience.

It carved out new territory for D&D and set the stage for the 5E player-base revolution. It set the stage for online play and streaming. It brought the game into the modern, digital world.

But because 5E has to be pleasing to a number of different audiences, it has to be a compromise. 4E, for better AND worse, was uncompromising for the majority of its run.

I have friends who refuse to play 5E or even 2010-2013 4E (as that was when it started to dilute a bit with psionics, themes, and essentials alternate classes).
 
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Makes sense. My ideals D&D game would be some weird admixture of 5E and 4E - taking the best of each.
So, 4e, but, replace combat advantage & penalties with adv/dis?

::ducks::

Serioulsy, though... (well, we all know my track record..)

4E was able to do a lot right but was (1) before its time
4e had many of the earmarks of a 90s 'new wave' game. It was probably 20 years after it's time. Still too much, too new, too fast for D&D, of course.

...yeah, still not that serious, sorry. ;)
 

jgsugden

Hero
One idea to consider: 4E was - in the eyes of many - not a great implementation of D&D. However, it was a very solid system. I found it to be an excellent system to adapt for genres with a "flatter" power scaling. For example, I used it with a Wild West Game and a game that basically stole the plotline from Predator - both worked exceptionally well.
 

pemerton

Legend
the first two MM's did have a lot less fluff
This isn't true. I've done, and seen done, 1:1 comparisons of lore for the 4e MM compared to the AD&D ones (both editions) and 3E. Not every entry is identical in every respect, but there is no general reduction in lore. And for some entries (eg Goblins, Demons, Devils) there much more in the 4e MM than earlier ones.
 

This isn't true. I've done, and seen done, 1:1 comparisons of lore for the 4e MM compared to the AD&D ones (both editions) and 3E. Not every entry is identical in every respect, but there is no general reduction in lore. And for some entries (eg Goblins, Demons, Devils) there much more in the 4e MM than earlier ones.
Ookay.. are we excluding any sort of text from 'lore?'
 

pemerton

Legend
There have been other interviews where the devs stated that older editions didn't have a systematic way of calculating XP.
That would be an odd statement to make, though. B/X and AD&D (at least 1st ed) have very clear and easily-found rules on how to calculate the XP awards for defeating a monster. Gygax's AD&D also has slightly less clear rules on how to calculate the XP for recovering treasure based on the difficulty of obtaining it. (In B/X I think it' just 1:1.)
 

pemerton

Legend
Ookay.. are we excluding any sort of text from 'lore?'
I'll do one comparison: gnolls.

Gygax's AD&D:

Gnolls travel and live in rapacious bands of loose organization, with the largest dominating the rest. These bands recognize no other gnoll as supreme, but they do not necessarily dislike other bands, and on occasion two or more such groups will ioin together briefly in order to fight, raid, loot, or similarly have greater chance of success against some common foe or potential victim. They are adaptable and inhabit nearly any area save those which are arctic and/or arid. They hove a so-called king, very powerful personally and with a double normal-sized following, but his authority extends only as far as his reach

<This is followed by rules for the ration of leaders to followers, and numbers of women and children in lairs>

Gnolls are subterranean 85% of the time, but occasionally (15%) they will take up residence in an abandoned (or cleared) village or building of some sort.

<This is followed by chances of various sorts of hangers on, like trolls or giant hyenas, and numbers of captives in a lair, and distribution of armaments among gnoll warriors>

Gnolls will generally be on friendly terms with orcs, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, and even trolls - providing the weaker types are not very much weaker in numbers and the gnolls are relatively equal in strength to the
stronger monsters.

Gnolls are strong, but they dislike work and are not good miners. They have infravision. They speak their racial tongue, chaotic evil, troll, and often (60%) orcish and/or hobgoblin.

<The entry concludes with a visual description of gnolls, their armour and their typical lifespan>

2nd ed AD&D:
Gnolls are large, evil, hyena-like humanoids that roam about in loosely organized bands. While the body of a gnoll is shaped like that of a large human, the details are those of a hyena. They stand erect on two legs and have hands that can manipulate as well as those of any human. They have greenish gray skin, darker near the muzzle, with a short reddish gray to dull yellow mane. Gnolls have their own language and many also speak the tongues of flinds, trolls, orcs, or hobgoblins.

Combat: Gnolls seek to overwhelm their opponents by sheer numbers, using horde tactics. When under the direction of flinds or a strong leader, they can be made to hold rank and fight as a unit. While they do not often lay traps, they will ambush or attempt to attack from a flank or rear position. <There is then an account of the distribution of weapons among gnolls>

Habitat/Society: Gnolls are most often encountered underground or inside abandoned ruins. When above ground they operate primarily at night. Gnoll society is ruled by the strongest, using fear and intimidation. <This is followed by all the stuff about leaders, hangers-on, women and children, and captives as is found in the AD&D MM. On a quick scan it's all identical>

Gnolls will work together with orcs, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, and trolls. If encountered as a group, there must be a relative equality of strength. Otherwise the gnolls will kill and eat their partners (hunger comes before friendship or fear) or be killed and eaten by them. They dislike goblins, kobolds, giants, humans, demi-humans and any type of manual labor.

Ecology: Gnolls eat anything warm blooded, favoring intelligent creatures over animals because they scream better. They will completely hunt out an area before moving on. It may take several years for the game to return. <FInally there is the same information about lifespan as found in the MM entry>

3E:
Gnolls are hyena-headed evil humanoids that wander in loose tribes <on warm plains, according to an Environment entry, which is followed by various groupings; and the text below then has some visual description>

A gnoll is a nocturnal carnivore, preferring intelligent creatures for food because they scream more. Gnolls tend to think with their stomachs, and any alliances they make (usually with bugbears, hobgoblins, ogres, orcs or trolls) often fall apart when the gnolls get hungry. They dislike giants and most other humanoids, and they disdain manual labor. . . .

Gnolls speak Gnoll . . . [and] like to attack when they have the advantage of numbers, using horde tactics and their physical strength to overwhelm and knock down their opponents. They show little discipline when fighting unless they have a strong leader; at such times, they can maintain ranks and fight as a unit. While they do not usually prepare traps, they do use ambushes and try to attack from a flanking position <this is followed by mechanical details about how gnolss use the Hide skill>

A tribe of gnolls is rules by its strongest member, who uses fear, intimidation, and strength to remain in power. If a chieftain is killed, the stronger members of the tribe fight to be the new chieftain. If these combats take to long or several combatants die, the tribe may break up into a number of bands that go their separate ways. Gnolls rever the phases of the moon, but most tribes have no true clerics.

A band or tribe includes as many non-combatant young as adults. Gnoll lairs are fortified surface encampments or underground complexes. Gnolls take prisoners for use as slaves <followed by statistical info that is the same as in AD&D> Slaves (usually humans, orcs, or hobgoblins) suffer a high attrition rate because of the gnolls' appetite.

Their special patron is the demon lord Yeenoghu, how looks like a gaunt gnoll. Most gnolls serve and revere Yeenoghu rather than worshipping a deity.

4e (Monster Manual, not Essentials Monster Vault):
Gnolls are feral, demon-worshipping marauders that kill, pillage, and destroy. They attack communities along the borderlands without warning and slaughter without mercy, all in the name of the demon lord Yeenoghu. . . .

Gnolls are nomadic and rarely stay in one place for long. When gnolls attack and pillage a settlement, they leave nothing behind except razed buildings and gnawed corpses. Gnolls often decorate their armor and encampments with the bones of their victims. Impatient and unskilled artisans, they wear patchwork armor and wield weapons stolen from their victims.

Gnolls don’t bargain or parley, and they can’t be bribed or reasoned with. Gnolls are often encountered with hyenas, which they keep as pets and hunting animals. They also work with demons.

Gnolls detest physical labor and often use slaves to perform menial chores. The life of a slave in a gnoll camp is brutal and short. That said, slaves who show strength and savagery might be indoctrinated into the gnoll vanguard. Such creatures are usually broken in mind and spirit, having become as cruel and ruthless as their captors.

As the mortal instruments of the demon lord Yeenoghu, who is called the Beast of Butchery and Ruler of Ruin, gnolls constantly perform atrocities. When not scouring the land in Yeenoghu’s name, gnolls fight among themselves and participate in rituals that involve acts of depravity and self-mutilation. . . .

Gnolls raid and war in rapacious packs, their numbers supplemented by demons (especially evistros and barlguras), raving slaves, and beasts driven to madness and cruelty.

Powerful humanoids sometimes manage to take gnolls as slaves or even to raise gnoll pups as servants. Such gnolls serve their masters as fierce warriors.

<This is followed by some suggested groupings of gnolls with demons and hyenas, and a colour picture; the stat blocks tell us that gnolls have low-light vision and speak Common and Abyssal>

The 4e entry has less statistical demographics than the others (especially the AD&D ones). It has more cultural information (eg their scavenged weapons and armous, and the ritual of depravity and self-mutilation). I'm not trained in using formal metrics to measure quantities of information, but I don't think there is less information in that 4e lore than the lore from previous editions. And of course much of the lore is constant throughout - they are raiders, they take slaves, they ally with other evil humanoids, they don't like manual labour.

EDIT: In the past I think I've done goblins, aboleths (or maybe saw that done by someone else), drow and (I think) vampires. I didn't quite know what gnolls would turn up, but am completely unsurprised by the result.
 

pemerton

Legend
the MM is basically useless. The stat blocks are crap and the lore is crap. There is no reason to turn to it.
This is one of the few things where we've of different minds with respect to 4e. I like the MM lore (see eg the gnoll lore above - nothing wrong with it, it's all good stuff). And as I'm about to elaborate on, I've used the stats too without issue. And it has some (in my view) interesting monsters, not all of which were picked up in the MV.

Don't forget, the MM stat blocks were also crap (thanks, Mike!). If you study them closely, they seem to be based on three different sets of monster creation rules with little overlap with the ones in the DMG.
I quite like the MM stat blocks, and have used lots of them. Of course for paragon and epic I have to step up the damage appropriately and add +2 to hit to most brutes (which is also an issue with the DMG guidelines) - but that's fairly easy; it's special abilities that are trickier in 4e.

I know that eg the MM wraiths, black dragons and dracoliches have all come under fire for the way they kill the action economy, but I've used all three with no regrets.

On the three different sets of monster creation rules, I've never heard that before and have never looked closely enough to notice it (I have noticed that several stat blocks don't match the DMG guidelines). Can you elaborate a bit?
 
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pemerton

Legend
I've got a pretty big 4e collection - no Draonomicons (not too into dragons), no Eberron, only a few modules - but all the Planar stuff, core volues, "powers", Open Grave, Demonomicon, etc.

My general view is it's hard to go wrong with 4e stuff, so go with what you've got but don't worry too much your money will be wasted if you add to your collection!
 

JeffB

Legend
Frankly, I don't have much issue with the 4E MM when it comes to lore. I've been playing since 1977 and don't really need or want reams of lore about monsters I have been using for years and years. Just how much can be said about Goblins that is going to blow you away? The only time I like to see "extra" is when either

1) the Lore is there to tie the creature into a specific setting (for example the Jebli tribes of GH or see The Bestiary for Dragonlance 5th Age)

or

2) it's actually a different take on the creature from established norms (this usually the case in game other than D&D, for example Runequest or Earthdawn).

The Monster Vault, while excellent, I feel tips a bit too far in the opposite direction. There is so much word count given to lore, there are not nearly as many creatures in the book.

Also, I'd rather not have WOTC giving me their approved IP vanilla versions of anything at this point in my RPG life-The best campaign settings and monsters provide more questions than answers.

Swords & Wizardry way back in 2008 had the best treatment for my tastes when it comes to D&D monsters.

Swords & Wizardry 1st edition-now "core" said:
There’s not a lot of detail given about the monsters, because the more detail given, the more your own mental image of the fantasy world is going to be locked into a single track. We’re not going to say that giant ants are red, nocturnal, three feet long, and fond of eating Elves. Because in your mind, they might be blue, diurnal, five feet long, and eat only plants unless they’re attacked. Details about monsters toss roadblocks in front of your imagination. Yes, details can also inspire the imagination, but we’re making the assumption that if you’re interested in fantasy gaming in the first place, you’ve got a good imagination that doesn’t need details about the size of a giant ant.
 

pemerton

Legend
The Monster Vault, while excellent, I feel tips a bit too far in the opposite direction. There is so much word count given to lore, there are not nearly as many creatures in the book.
Absolutely! Reams and reams of overwrought prose.

Even looking at some of those gnoll entries over the years (see my post not far upthread), do I need the monster entry to tell me the strong bully the weak when there is already Chaotic Evil in the monster stablock, and the strong bully the weak is part of the definition of that alignment.

If I want inspiring prose I'll read something other than a gaming manual!
 

Bringing saving throws back was like returning to THACO.
I think it makes way more sense that the person trying to affect another is always the one rolling. The current method feels arbitrary and just a way to make magic automatically better since weapon attacks can no longer target NADs like you could with some powers.

Also Impliment Mastery are cooler than plain School specialisation :p
You know I think I'm possibly starting to come around to the new/old way of doing things.

At least in regard to spells. Perhaps it's the current pandemic as much as anything which is forcing gaming online. But it's much more easy on Roll20 for they player to just say what their spell does and throw it back on the GM to make a roll. Makes including homebrewed or 3rd party elements much easier.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Hey let's get to brass tacks here.

I've got PHB1, 2, and 3, DMG 1 and 2, MM 1, 2 and 3; Divine Power and Psionic Power. (as well as the two FR and two DS books). I figure I probably want Martial Power 1 & 2, Arcane Power, and Primal Power.

I'm sure I can run a game with those products. BUT, many people have brought up other resources that I have not heard of or ignored during the 4e time period.

Maybe some folks can list their favorite official WotC D&D 4e resources, 3rd Party resources, and finally Online resources - and why those are useful to them?

Thanks in advance.

Here's a list of WotC D&D 4e books

The martial and arcane power books are great... Heroes of Feywild is well one of the coolest.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
So, 4e, but, replace combat advantage & penalties with adv/dis?

::ducks::

Serioulsy, though... (well, we all know my track record..)
You duck poorly and get caught easily? because damn it running with a polearm is nonsense but somebody has to do it?
;)
 

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