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D&D 4E Anyone playing 4e at the moment?

BigZebra

Explorer
I am considering demoing a 4e game soon when we are done with our current 5e campaign.
We are having a blast with 5e but our group really likes doing tactical combats between the role playing. Hence I am looking at 4e as a possibility.
Is it still feasible in this day and age? We are using Roll20 and the tools for 4e are not as polished as the 5e ones. Any experiences to share?
 

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the Jester

Legend
I am not still playing 4e, but I'll chime in nonetheless.

I think there are two main issues you'll have. The first is that many 4e players relied on the digital tools to the point where they didn't bother buying the physical books. With the demise (AFAIK) of all the tools, this means that many 4e players don't have the game anymore, or at least not more than the core books or whatever. If this isn't the case for you, this won't be a problem.

The second issue is the overwhelming number of choices to be made vis-a-vis powers, paragon paths, epic destinies, and feats, especially as characters level up, and the lack of digital tools makes it very difficult to sort these easily. The powers for, for instance, a fighter, are spread out across multiple books (and that's without even addressing mixing in the stuff from the Essentials books). I remember leveling up being more of a chore in 4e than in any other edition of the game, even 3e.

The other thing I'll point out is a reminder- 4e combats are very, very slow. They tend to drag unless you tweak the system in some way or ways. The math is so tight that you can predict that an encounter of the group's level is pretty much going to take three rounds, but those rounds will take forever to play through.

All that said, if you can overcome those issues, I think 4e is a great system for what it is good at, and I think it's gotten very short shrift from the D&D community at large. Monster design, skill challenges, epic destinies, traps and hazards- there is sooo much good stuff that I wish had made it into 5e.
 


We had a great 4E campaign for pretty much the entire supported length of the edition. And by halfway through we found character creation/updating/use absolutely unfeasible without the digital tools.

As always YMMV but just be aware it can be an issue.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
If you want to avoid the digital tools and "too much stuff" issues... then the easiest way to do so is to only use the first 4E Player's Handbook. Or maybe PH I and II.

Yes, there will be a number of character classes you won't have access to... but truth be told I think the best time for classes were in just that first PH. Reason being... because the number of powers that each class had was much smaller... the ones they did have were more specific to the classes themselves. Each role and each class had its own schtick and there was much less overlap. Whereas in later years as more and more powers began being created for almost every issue of the online Dragon Magazine... the bleed of what classes could do became wider and wider. And I think to classes' detriment. But if you only use the first PH, you will be able to maintain a specificity with each of those eight classes and keep things tight.

That being said... while I think the first PH is the best PH to use for 4E... get Monster Manual III for your monsters. The math is much better in that one and your combats will thank you for it. :)
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I am not still playing 4e, but I'll chime in nonetheless.

I think there are two main issues you'll have. The first is that many 4e players relied on the digital tools to the point where they didn't bother buying the physical books. With the demise (AFAIK) of all the tools, this means that many 4e players don't have the game anymore, or at least not more than the core books or whatever. If this isn't the case for you, this won't be a problem.
The offline digital tools actually work better than they did previously especially if you want to add your own custom content which for me is very very D&D
 

the Jester

Legend
The offline digital tools actually work better than they did previously especially if you want to add your own custom content which for me is very very D&D
That's good to hear! The lack of support for homebrewed content was one of the big reasons the tools were not satisfactory for me; I am an inveterate homebrewer and had dozens of paragon paths, epic destinies, etc.
 

jsaving

Adventurer
Our group recently took a break from 5e/PF1e in favor of a brief 4e campaign, mainly because a few people in the group had a fondly remembered perception that 4e did a great job handling tactical combat. The end result was a unanimous resolution to stick with 5e/PF1e in the future.

Is it "feasible" to demo a 4th edition campaign? Sure. But you should go into it with your eyes open, remembering that while 4e brought some useful innovations to the genre, it also made a large number of bad design decisions that eventually resulted in its accelerated replacement. Above all, I wouldn't go into a new 4e game simply because you want to somehow prove the bulk of the gaming community was wrong, 4e got a bad rap, its flaws were overstated, etc.

You've made a good start by saying you're drawn to 4e's tactical/battlemat support. I personally think that's the edition's biggest strength and absolutely think 4e can work for your campaign if that's what you want to focus on. Just stick to the core books to make things manageable and you'll be good to go whether or not you have much in the way of digital support.

And who knows? The fact that 4e didn't succeed overall doesn't mean it isn't the best fit for your specific gaming group. If you find it to be so, then you might consider staying with it for longer than you currently plan to. Best wishes and good luck!
 

"The offline digital tools actually work better than they did previously especially if you want to add your own custom content which for me is very very D&D"

As I recall at the time we managed to get them to work for 2 players PCs and absolutely not work for 4 others.

I hope the OP has better luck!
 

I am not still playing 4e, but I'll chime in nonetheless.

I think there are two main issues you'll have. The first is that many 4e players relied on the digital tools to the point where they didn't bother buying the physical books. With the demise (AFAIK) of all the tools, this means that many 4e players don't have the game anymore, or at least not more than the core books or whatever. If this isn't the case for you, this won't be a problem.

The second issue is the overwhelming number of choices to be made vis-a-vis powers, paragon paths, epic destinies, and feats, especially as characters level up, and the lack of digital tools makes it very difficult to sort these easily. The powers for, for instance, a fighter, are spread out across multiple books (and that's without even addressing mixing in the stuff from the Essentials books). I remember leveling up being more of a chore in 4e than in any other edition of the game, even 3e.

The other thing I'll point out is a reminder- 4e combats are very, very slow. They tend to drag unless you tweak the system in some way or ways. The math is so tight that you can predict that an encounter of the group's level is pretty much going to take three rounds, but those rounds will take forever to play through.

All that said, if you can overcome those issues, I think 4e is a great system for what it is good at, and I think it's gotten very short shrift from the D&D community at large. Monster design, skill challenges, epic destinies, traps and hazards- there is sooo much good stuff that I wish had made it into 5e.
Not to get into any real disagreement on these points, but... Is it really a bad thing that players will be doing their own PCs with 'paper and pencil' (at least with a fillable character sheet of some sort). Sure, it makes it hard to have an exhaustive list of every single power and other option that was ever published right at your finger tips. OTOH there's nothing wrong with picking from what you can look up in a few sources, or just sticking to one or two sources. Unless your goal is to produce super optimized characters the results should be perfectly adequate. Although you may find it hard to apply all the most recent 'errata'. OTOH maybe that too is not such a bad thing in all cases...

We didn't find 4e combats slow, particularly. What we found was that STATIC fights were simply dull and didn't deliver on the time spent on them. So, avoid at all costs "4 orcs in a room" type battles! If fights are interesting scenes with a plot and goals and interesting characters, then the time spent should be fun, and many fights really won't take that long, especially if they have endpoints (victory conditions) short of "utterly annihilate the enemy to the last hit point."

Still, using MM3 math and the most modern possible monster stat blocks will make things more fun.

Finally it is still pretty easy to purchase 4e books. Prices on Amazon seem a bit high, but Dungeon Masters Guild - looks like it still sells PDFs of every single 4e SKU that WotC ever produced, or pretty darn close. Admittedly, maybe not a ton of people are wanting to pay $9.99 and up for each of these, but you don't necessarily need everyone to get every book, and between physical books many groups will already have, and PDFs of this or that one they may feel they need, its not really much harder to stock up on 4e stuff than it is on 5e stuff.
 

BigZebra

Explorer
Thanks the replies, really appreciate all the tips. 💪🏻
I am thinking about limiting the options to the first PHB (for starters anyway). And for ease of reference there's this: Offline Compendium
Also as mentioned in my post, we'll be using Roll20 and the sheet there seems serviceable, also I have been creating macros for some of the first level powers.

Regarding combats being slow, I do have the errata the WotC team did, and I can see they modified many monsters by doubling their damage output and halving their HP. So this is something I am aware of. It is pretty crazy though, that such a thing slipped past their playtest. Oh well naughty word happens 🥳

Anyway, I'll see how it goes. We like 5e very much, so if this 4e experiment turns bad, I have a some great 5e stuff lined up 🎲
 



Thanks the replies, really appreciate all the tips. 💪🏻
I am thinking about limiting the options to the first PHB (for starters anyway). And for ease of reference there's this: Offline Compendium
Interesting, I hadn't seen that one. I think, as with all the compendia, you kind of still need to have the books and such to reference in order to understand how things work. I mean, a power may be self-explanatory, but in a lot of cases there is 'other text' that one needs or should have for reference.
Also as mentioned in my post, we'll be using Roll20 and the sheet there seems serviceable, also I have been creating macros for some of the first level powers.

Regarding combats being slow, I do have the errata the WotC team did, and I can see they modified many monsters by doubling their damage output and halving their HP. So this is something I am aware of. It is pretty crazy though, that such a thing slipped past their playtest. Oh well naughty word happens 🥳
The standard damage expressions were increased, and then most newer monsters were written (or sometimes they were rewrites of old ones) to ACTUALLY output damage that matches those expressions. It is far from being 'doubled' however. Baseline damage as of MM3 grade monsters is about Level+8. If you look at MM1, damage rarely even reaches the official Level+5, and things like restricted damage and increases for things like brutes which the DMG called for are almost never present. Now, if you get into higher levels, then yeah, some of the MM1 damage was half what it should be.

Likewise there were no changes in hit points in MM3 for monsters. The only change happened a bit earlier, in MM2, when ALL solos were reduced to 4x hit points instead of 5x, a 20% reduction. MM3 does rely less on brutes and soldiers, and doesn't have as high a proportion of elite/solo monsters. Those factors tend to cut back on 'grindy' monsters some. Also monsters overall design is much better in MM3, their powers synergize with their designs better, there are many fewer cases where monsters just bog down play, etc. It is definitely best to stick to MM3 and MV:ttNV where possible, but most older monsters are OK if you take care in building scenarios and do the adjustments to their stats. It is certainly NOT necessary to do drastic changes like cutting all their hit points in half!
Anyway, I'll see how it goes. We like 5e very much, so if this 4e experiment turns bad, I have a some great 5e stuff lined up 🎲
PERSONALLY I think 4e is best approached as a narratively focused game instead of being played in a 'classic D&D' mode, perhaps even play it 'zero myth' if you want, but then you would probably want to give the players a lot of chances to fill in world details. Anyway, the game really plays best when the action is very highly charged. Something that plays like a cross between D&D and Indiana Jones is best. If the building isn't on fire, or the roof falling in, or a wagon racing out of control towards a cliff, then you probably should be 'skipping ahead to the interesting part.' Say 'yes' a LOT, and really consider using SCs, but do them right. If you have any WotC supplied adventures, ritually burn them before you start play and never ever use them! I've heard that a few of the later ones have been considered 'good', but I'm skeptical for the most part...

You can run the adventure in the back of DMG1, Kobold Hall. It is too short to turn pear shaped, though it is still an example of what NOT to do for the most part.
 

"Regarding combats being slow, I do have the errata the WotC team did, and I can see they modified many monsters by doubling their damage output and halving their HP."

Their adjustments didn't go quite that far. However our "house adjustment" was indeed to half the HP, and double the damage dice (but not the bonuses).

And it actually worked pretty well. However in a 5 player group they did have 3 Strikers, so the "combat tempo" may have been atypical.
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
This, absolutely. 4e is one of my favorite RPGs, period. I continue to hold out hope that, in the future, it will gain new relevance for game design.
I fully understand the general sentiment about 4E. In a way, I think it's a brilliant game, just a poor D&D game.

However, it's a shame that 5E did not borrow more design ideas from 4E. It has many great design elements that are great and elegant. I often go dig through my 4E books and borrow stuff from it!
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
For me, 4e is just replaced by Strike! that has pretty much the same (if not more) level of tacticality and way less crunch.
 


Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
"The offline digital tools actually work better than they did previously especially if you want to add your own custom content which for me is very very D&D"

As I recall at the time we managed to get them to work for 2 players PCs and absolutely not work for 4 others.

I hope the OP has better luck!
Being easier to install the Custom content element CBLoader and get working on newer machines is some of the improvements. (error fixing in general wrt data are others).

I think the main thing still missing is good gui for custom elements input.
 
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Dragonblade

Adventurer
4e is great! Well deserving of a revised edition, especially for the early books where WotC didn't quite have the mechanics dialed in. But late stage 4e, especially in terms of monster design and tactical combat is an amazing game.

I love both 4e and 5e, but 4e scratches a different itch, and its missed in my group. Time to perhaps consider a retro-campaign. We have all the books, so the digital tools going offline didn't really affect us, and only some of my original 4e group ever used them.
 

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