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

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Epic to me is about Scale
In 4e my fighter has an at-will power called knockdown assault it sounds pretty mundane at first glance and is not considered a power house you might even notice it only advances based on attributes of the fighter.

However you might notice a detail it also prones an enemy regardless of size so when you are fighting Gargantuan Dragons yes you can toss their scaled hiney it can be seen as a sophisticated move that uses the enemies strength and mass against them.

In comparison the 5e battlemasters move is forever small stuff with a realism target that makes them not epic in my opinion.

edit: I think 4e assumes the heroes awesome scales to as his foes do over his adventuring career and does not need one to take extra feats or explicit subclasses to achieve this.
@AbdulAlhazred Perhaps going through the Battlemaster maneuvers and giving them a tier adjustment. would satisfy the 5e explicit urge and make them actually service the tiers better.
 

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@AbdulAlhazred Perhaps going through the Battlemaster maneuvers and giving them a tier adjustment. would satisfy the 5e explicit urge and make them actually service the tiers better.
I'm sure you could build epic-scale maneuvers, though I am still befuddled by why powers weren't a good answer to some people. I just don't get it, the whole design was much more elegant and you didn't have these issues where one type of PCs continue to get new better stuff and have an open unlimited list, and others are stuck with a dozen options that can't expand beyond level 1. It just doesn't work.

IMHO, the reason 5e needs to change the rules to make something 'epic' is just flat out that the rules for the rest of the levels don't really work right!
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The rogue thief was worse than a sidekick his abilities were superseded by a yellow notepad full of tricks to avoid the rogue thief doing anything and if you wanted it reliable you had the wizard do it.

It all came down to magic items, in the end, a thief with a ring of invisibility was way better than a magic-user, for example because there were very few slots. Of course, I had this magic-user Thief who had gloves that allowed him to dematerialise any part of his hands and forearms and everything he was holding, which allowed him to search chests without opening them and, in combination with a ring of x-ray vision, to backstab sentinels through walls... :rolleyes: :D

@Lyxen I will say I have no experience with BECMI could you elaborate

The progression was in a sense much slower than AD&D, but the great thing is that it recognised in its inception things which have since been mirrored in a lot of fantastic books/movies of the genre, like Wheel of Time or Sanderson books:
  • Lvls 1-3, Basic: clearing out local "dungeons" and threats
  • Lvls 4-14, Expert: Wilderness, expanding the scope
  • Lvls 15-25, Companion: this is where it got really ground breaking for us with dominion management, because it was fairly simple management of your base/fortress/domain/realm, but it allowed the opportunity for so many adventures, both the the usual kind, but also intrigue with neighbours, alliances and negotiations, wars and sieges environment and what we loved the most, court intrigue.
  • Lvls 26-26, Master: Where it recognised that the multiverse was really vast and where the heroes took flight again to counter cosmic threats from gods and demons, and go on the road to godhood, which we did with quite a few campaigns, actually, with varying results but it was always fun.
  • And the Immortal set that we didn't like that much because things became very abstract. However, I resuscitated some of the elements to finish our humongous multi-DMs campaign started under 3e because at level 20, things were so complex and took such a long time that players got lost, so I re-created a very simple Immortal game to finish the ascension of characters to godhood. Out of the 100+ characters played in the campaign, about 40 died and about 30 achieved godhood and are now a pantheon that we use in some of our campaigns including 4e and 5e.
I very much consider magic item dependence with basically nothing telling DMs that except a Dragon Mag article years later a flaw not a feature. No effective guidelines about level appropriate hardware existed either.

I completely agree with you, it was a long process of trial and error, with mistakes along the way. I had this elven archmage who was dreaded not for many of class/psionic abilities or her artefacts, but because she had a mirror of mental prowess, and that is really a potentially game breaking item, especially when combined with shenanigans with portable holes.

It was very much over the top, ad hoc, haphazard and usually totally unbalanced with the DM pulling even more outrageous things out of his hat for the abilities of the adversaries. And it required very experienced DMs who had lived through that progression and could invent all these over-the top countermeasures.

And I agree that, in comparison, 4e is a dream of balance and progression, much easier to manage for everyone (teasing here, but only partly though, it's a bit too tame for us, in comparison to our habits of the above).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
  • And the Immortal set that we didn't like that much because things became very abstract. However, I resuscitated some of the elements to finish our humongous multi-DMs campaign started under 3e because at level 20, things were so complex and took such a long time that players got lost, so I re-created a very simple Immortal game to finish the ascension of characters to godhood. Out of the 100+ characters played in the campaign, about 40 died and about 30 achieved godhood and are now a pantheon that we use in some of our campaigns including 4e and 5e.
I was reading this it was focusing so much on alternative world theoretical physics it made my "physics minor" brain very annoyed.
 

@AbdulAlhazred Perhaps going through the Battlemaster maneuvers and giving them a tier adjustment. would satisfy the 5e explicit urge and make them actually service the tiers better.
It would be nice if players ever got the chance to choose/receive "improved" or "advanced" maneuvers that were permitted to do things that maneuvers available at 3rd level aren't allowed to do. I fear I'm too pessimistic to really take seriously the idea that something like that will get included by these designers. They spent nearly three years working on the D&D Next playtest, and never managed to get something like that in, despite their repeated claims to the contrary. If they'd had the will, it would be there.
 

You snorker dork my thought was you could contribute how different play could become in epic tier and how elements like page 42 based rulings and skill challenges and scaling of story presented results in different feel regardless of there still be levels and hit point progression and the like

sigh

Alright, more seriously (and with a hair more time), 4e accomplishes this through 2 integrated features of play that work simultaneously to serve this end:

THEMATIC/PREMISE FOCUSING

* Epic Destiny and (player authored) Quests. Also, you can go the Neverwinter model route (as I did for my fantasy Sengoku Era Japan game) and just have Character Theme be the through line for levels 1-10 that effectively run you through Heroic > Paragon > Epic tropes of play with a truncated leveling experience (and shortening of total play arc/session #).

THEMATIC CONFLICT/OBSTACLE BROADENING (via a stable engine which offloads progression onto all of the below)

* Robust monster, hazard/trap, terrain, p42 stunting math/mechanics/reskinning.

* Keyword tech.

* Scene Based Resolution (both combat with the intricate combat mechanics and via noncombat scene resolution with the Skill Challenge).




Then there is the related piece of mythic fantasy, scene-based pacing being extremely functional because (a) pushing forward is rewarded via Milestone mechanics + nonpunitive Short Rest mechanics (and how much of character oomph is offloaded here) + (b) (VERY) related design where Adventuring Day + Encounter Maths + PC resource suite design doesn't create a game that is brutally sensitive to refresh. PC gas tank is deep and robust (see (a) above) and Team PC amplification serves to augment this robustness/depth. (a) + (b) means the game doesn't feature the typical D&D Arms Race over daily resource refresh (which is pretty much exclusively dominated by GM vs Spellcaster PCs). This is a very big D&D thing that creates a very jarring and weird tenor for mythical tropes. The fact that 4e effectively solved it plays no small role in the formulation of unprecedented functional Epic Tier play.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
It would be nice if players ever got the chance to choose/receive "improved" or "advanced" maneuvers that were permitted to do things that maneuvers available at 3rd level aren't allowed to do. I fear I'm too pessimistic to really take seriously the idea that something like that will get included by these designers. They spent nearly three years working on the D&D Next playtest, and never managed to get something like that in, despite their repeated claims to the contrary. If they'd had the will, it would be there.
The Level Up:Advanced 5e has higher ranked maneuvers not accessible earlier (and starts maneuvers at level 1 for all fighters). And maneuvers for all the martial classes including Warlords and Adepts (a Martial Monk)

But I agree there was no will to create that in the WOTC crew.
 

The Level Up:Advanced 5e has higher ranked maneuvers not accessible earlier (and starts maneuvers at level 1 for all fighters). And maneuvers for all the martial classes including Warlords and Adepts (a Martial Monk)

But I agree there was no will to create that in the WOTC crew.
I haven't read it, but given what @Manbearcat is saying about 4e Epic, which I totally agree with, you have to actually struggle to hack 5e into half a semblance of the same thing with a supplement like this. I don't see the point...

Instead I spent all my energy STARTING OUT where 4e left off, and IMHO my current version of 'Epic' (Mythic actually as I call it) play leaves 4e in the dust! Though, honestly, I need to get on with the whole 2.0 thing because it gets MUCH cooler!
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I haven't read it, but given what @Manbearcat is saying about 4e Epic, which I totally agree with, you have to actually struggle to hack 5e into half a semblance of the same thing with a supplement like this. I don't see the point...

Instead I spent all my energy STARTING OUT where 4e left off, and IMHO my current version of 'Epic' (Mythic actually as I call it) play leaves 4e in the dust! Though, honestly, I need to get on with the whole 2.0 thing because it gets MUCH cooler!
It could be used as direct replacement for 5e its standalone but yes 4e is probably a better starting point.

5e identifies mythic as a flavoring in a sense but basically has no mechanics supporting it even implies they are not needed...

And while 5e does describe the events of its highest tier as being just like those of Epic Destinies but again to even support those events and story you would have to hack things onto it AND It lacks the player side investment and buy in

4e just grants much more player agency

There are also other supplements like Odyssey of the Dragonlords which has elements like fated equipment and destiny story elements which very much feel like 4e and put divine ascension directly on the table even having an explicit ritual or spell.

Yup take some work to get what 4e has out of the box. (let alone move beyond that)
 
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Lyxen

Great Old One
I was reading this it was focusing so much on alternative world theoretical physics it made my "physics minor" brain very annoyed.

That's strange, these paragraphs did not smack too much of alternative world physics, although indeed there were many, but honestly, how can you do truly epic without epic magic and its impact on physics ?
 


That's strange, these paragraphs did not smack too much of alternative world physics, although indeed there were many, but honestly, how can you do truly epic without epic magic and its impact on physics ?
For my part, "epicness" doesn't really need to be magical (though it is almost always supernatural--more on that later), nor does it need to mess with physics per se. An epic-type adventure needs to stretch the bounds of what seems possible or achievable, usually by going up against fantastical forces, thinking of a clever solution to a previously insoluble problem, or breaking a previously inviolable rule/pattern at a very grand scale. "Mythic" fits into a similar boat, but doesn't (to my mind) require quite as much...scale or breadth as "epic" does. You can have a "mythic" adventure as a child exploring the woods behind your grandmother's house, but not really an "epic" one in the usual sense. (It could be epic from a young child's perspective, but that's because they don't really have a well-calibrated sense of scale yet. To a five-year-old, neighbor's houses are enigmatic domains of wonder and mystery.)

As an example, one of my favorite bits of lore from the 4e World Axis setting is that Bahamut is building divine arcology-ships in order to house the many souls that aren't allowed to go to the heaven they should have gone to. (This problem was caused by the Dawn War destroying the Lattice of Heaven, and several distinct sets of deities merging their divine domains in order to protect themselves.) That's a pretty cool thing all on its own, Bahamut literally calling together some of the greatest artisans, living and dead, to try to fix a problem no other deity is particularly concerned about. That's a pretty much textbook epic backdrop.

But it gets better! See, the 4e version of Kord isn't just some layabout STRONK BOI who likes to challenge people to contests of strength or whatever. He's actually a lot more like Batman: moody, brooding, CRAZY-prepared (though others see it as just crazy or rather paranoid), extremely determined, and disinclined to work with the team when he thinks he knows better. And one particular hypothetical scenario has Kord, or at least agents of Kord, hijack the first completed ark-ship, implicitly trying to get the jump on the Dusk War, but almost surely both triggering that war and wrecking most of reality in the process. This then leads to a desperate chase and struggle to stop Kord (or his agents) from setting reality on fire in their efforts to protect things.

That's an "epic" adventure--one with vast scope, a problem that looks potentially insoluble, tools and allies that are nearly too vast for the human mind to wrap around, and the pretty clear expectation of truly awesome, as in actually inspiring awe, scenes and events.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
That's an "epic" adventure--one with vast scope, a problem that looks potentially insoluble, tools and allies that are nearly too vast for the human mind to wrap around, and the pretty clear expectation of truly awesome, as in actually inspiring awe, scenes and events.

It seems like it, but to do that, I'm pretty sure that you have also epic magic and therefore strange physics. I'm not saying that they are needed, I'm saying that they usually are consequences of epic plots in the D&D universes.

Just as the reverse, it's not because you have epic paths (which actually are totally bland and technical in 4e) that you generate epicness.
 


pemerton

Legend
@Garthanos

In my experience of 4e D&D, the key to Epic is that the mechanics (mostly) stay the same, and mathematically robust, while the fiction scales up.

So (and picking some examples from my own play experience) the mechanical framework for resolving a trek across the Abyss to Mal Arundak, and then for breaking through the besieging demon hordes to enter that fortress, is no different from the framework for travelling through a forest and passing through goblin attackers to enter a homestead - in both cases its a skill challenge that interfaces with a combat encounter.

In the Heroic tier event, the combat is with single goblins, some on wolves; in the Epic tier event, its with Gargantuan swarms of demons.

At Epic, the framework for an ad-hoc action declaration in combat is no different from Heroic tier - it's just that instead of the action being a paladin of the Raven Queen speaking a prayer to gain combat advantage against a wight, it's a sorcerer calling on his ability to manipulate chaos to seal the Abyss.

And whereas at Paragon tier the social skill challenge is to expose a wicked advisor in front of the Baron, at Epic tier it's to persuade Yan-C-Bin to leave the PCs alone as they set about holding off the Dusk War.

@Manbearcat has pointed to some of the mechanical elements that support this: solving the daily resources issue, skill challenges, keywords. Others include intra-party mechanical balance of effectiveness; the (closely related) relative uniformity of PC builds, which allows powers, healing surges, action points and the like to serve as a common currency in non-combat resolution that interfaces directly with combat resource expenditure; the fact that magic items are part of all this and don't break the game; and - in combat - the use of PC depth of resources to counter numerical growth in NPC/creature hit points and damage output, which gives a feeling of Epic PCs "pulling out all the stops" against these (seemingly) impossible odds.

I think it's a pretty remarkable design achievement.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I think it's a pretty remarkable design achievement.

It would be, for me, if it felt that way, but it did not, not for our groups. It just felt the same mechanistic way but with bigger numbers.

Again, YMMV and I know that it was at least a good thing that they envisioned such a path, I just think that in the end they did so much to restrict the openness of the possibilities of a fantasy world that true epicness never took its flight for us.
 

pemerton

Legend
It would be, for me, if it felt that way, but it did not, not for our groups. It just felt the same mechanistic way but with bigger numbers.
I don't really know what this means.

The numbers being bigger is neither here nor there - HeroQuest revised can do Heroic-tier stuff or Epic-tier stuff using the same numbers. In 4e D&D there are two rationales (beyond tradition) for growing the numbers: (1) to help imbue a sense of scaling, given the pre-packaged game elements in the form of monster, trap and treasure lists; (2) to allow the change I described in the relationship between PCs and NPC/creatures (ie an increase in PC "depth" in contrast to a relatively greater degree of NPC/creature hit point and damage scaling).

I just think that in the end they did so much to restrict the openness of the possibilities of a fantasy world that true epicness never took its flight for us.
Here, too, I don't know what "restrictions" you have in mind. The fundamental difference between (say) a 20th level 4e Fighter and a 20th level AD&D or 3E fighter is that the former character has build elements - powers, healing surges, action points - that can be used as currency in a skill check or skill challenge, and that feed directly (via the combat action resolution mechanics) into combat resolution.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I don't really know what this means.

It's still on the same grid, it's still the same kind of effects, just affecting more squares with bigger damage.

The numbers being bigger is neither here nor there - HeroQuest revised can do Heroic-tier stuff or Epic-tier stuff using the same numbers. In 4e D&D there are two rationales (beyond tradition) for growing the numbers: (1) to help imbue a sense of scaling, given the pre-packaged game elements in the form of monster, trap and treasure lists; (2) to allow the change I described in the relationship between PCs and NPC/creatures (ie an increase in PC "depth" in contrast to a relatively greater degree of NPC/creature hit point and damage scaling).

And what I'm saying is that this does not work, because you just do more damage to monsters with bigger hit points, so the overall effect is null. There are very few powers (compared to spells in other editions), they are all geared towards combat, and they mostly look the same from one class to the next, in addition to being totally bland, I gave examples in previous posts).

Here, too, I don't know what "restrictions" you have in mind. The fundamental difference between (say) a 20th level 4e Fighter and a 20th level AD&D or 3E fighter is that the former character has build elements - powers, healing surges, action points - that can be used as currency in a skill check or skill challenge, and that feed directly (via the combat action resolution mechanics) into combat resolution.

And my AD&D fighter is not stuck two dimensionally on a grid where flying just means that he evades AoO, using the same powers as mostly any other class, and being constrained as well in the items he owns and how they work. The visions of playing are completely different from level 1 to lvl 20, whereas in 4e, it's still the same grid, the background does not even matter...
 

That's strange, these paragraphs did not smack too much of alternative world physics, although indeed there were many, but honestly, how can you do truly epic without epic magic and its impact on physics ?
I think this is where 4e, at least in terms of D&D editions, is so stark a contrast, and a positive one, to other editions. There is no pretense at all that there even IS such a thing as 'physics'. There is game. Whenever 4e deploys something into its milieu it is don as a way of introducing some good game play. When I say 'game play' I don't mean simply 'mechanics', I mean the whole general play. The cosmology exists to be playable, the power system (A/E/D/U) to be playable, etc. and how those result in a 'cool' story that you can play through matters. Even where it might fail, at least it tried. A lot of 5e, for example, strikes me as "damn whether it will actually play well or not, this MUST be in the game!" bleh. I'll take the 4e approach every time, and IMHO sticking with it inevitably leads in the direction of better and better results.
 

For my part, "epicness" doesn't really need to be magical (though it is almost always supernatural--more on that later), nor does it need to mess with physics per se. An epic-type adventure needs to stretch the bounds of what seems possible or achievable, usually by going up against fantastical forces, thinking of a clever solution to a previously insoluble problem, or breaking a previously inviolable rule/pattern at a very grand scale. "Mythic" fits into a similar boat, but doesn't (to my mind) require quite as much...scale or breadth as "epic" does. You can have a "mythic" adventure as a child exploring the woods behind your grandmother's house, but not really an "epic" one in the usual sense. (It could be epic from a young child's perspective, but that's because they don't really have a well-calibrated sense of scale yet. To a five-year-old, neighbor's houses are enigmatic domains of wonder and mystery.)

As an example, one of my favorite bits of lore from the 4e World Axis setting is that Bahamut is building divine arcology-ships in order to house the many souls that aren't allowed to go to the heaven they should have gone to. (This problem was caused by the Dawn War destroying the Lattice of Heaven, and several distinct sets of deities merging their divine domains in order to protect themselves.) That's a pretty cool thing all on its own, Bahamut literally calling together some of the greatest artisans, living and dead, to try to fix a problem no other deity is particularly concerned about. That's a pretty much textbook epic backdrop.

But it gets better! See, the 4e version of Kord isn't just some layabout STRONK BOI who likes to challenge people to contests of strength or whatever. He's actually a lot more like Batman: moody, brooding, CRAZY-prepared (though others see it as just crazy or rather paranoid), extremely determined, and disinclined to work with the team when he thinks he knows better. And one particular hypothetical scenario has Kord, or at least agents of Kord, hijack the first completed ark-ship, implicitly trying to get the jump on the Dusk War, but almost surely both triggering that war and wrecking most of reality in the process. This then leads to a desperate chase and struggle to stop Kord (or his agents) from setting reality on fire in their efforts to protect things.

That's an "epic" adventure--one with vast scope, a problem that looks potentially insoluble, tools and allies that are nearly too vast for the human mind to wrap around, and the pretty clear expectation of truly awesome, as in actually inspiring awe, scenes and events.
And this is why running Epic 4e is so awesome, because the thematics of WA cosmology work to produce this kind of result. GW cosmology OTOH is exactly the opposite. The GW has always existed, alignment is immutable and forever, the balance cannot be upset, you are all just less than ants in an endless infinite cosmology where everything you can possibly do is ultimately without significance. Which one creates the exciting stories? It sure isn't GW. I mean, you can do fun things in GW, but you have to subvert it, or else the tone is just a lot less epic, overall. I never understood what GW gives you in return. AFAICT it exists because it was an idea that EGG drew on the back of a napkin once in 1974.
 

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