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

No, but I kind of wish I was. I've heard a lot of praise for it since it went out of print. The problem is, I wouldn't even know where to start if I wanted to because it underwent so many rewrites during its time in print. There were, IIRC, 44 pages of errata at one point, skill challenges alone underwent many revisions, the monster maths were heavily revised at one point, and the Essentials books were er... essentially... replacements for large chunks of the core books. If I wanted to start playing today, what books would I need to pick up?
All the errata was collected in one PDF at one point. I don't know that I can share it, but the PDF I have is 139 pages and titled "UpdateCompiled.pdf" It is organized by book, and page, so its easy enough to check any specific game element for an errata. There is also a 4e database at this link which appears to be complete and up-to-date.

I'd also note that the errata, while they did make a bunch of it, is not that big a deal. You can ignore it, nothing is grotesquely broken or unworkable as-written. DMG2 and the Essentials RC have complete SC rules that work fine (the original ones actually work fine for many people too). Basically the Essentials RC is a perfectly good rules reference for all the 'core rules' and incorporates updates and changes made over the life of the game.

All 4e material works fine together also. There really are no incompatible versions of things like happened with 3.0 and 3.5, everything works with everything else. Anyway, you can use the Essentials material, and/or just the original 3 core books, there's plenty there. A lot of the books are still available easily on Amazon in print, and I guess WotC has released PDFs of at least some for sale. dndclassics.com 4e page lots here

I'm sure you can get books for cheap on other sources too, despite all the FUD 4e sold quite well and had large print runs. There's a ton of books out there.
 

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rozgarth

Explorer
If I were to recommend the fewest number of books for someone new to 4e to play, I’d recommend the Monster Vault for your monster book and the Dungeon Master’s Kit for your dungeon master’s guide. These are both products from the essentials line, and as such, they incorporate all of the updated rules for monsters, skill challenges, etc. The monster vault, for example, has updated stats for most of the classic monsters that were in the monster manual 1. Both products were boxed sets that also came with tokens and adventures. The DM’s Kit adventure in particular, Reavers of Harkenwold, is one of the best published adventures in the edition. I believe these products are both on DM’s Guild and are even cheaper than than their original 4e counterpart books.

Then, you just need a player’s book. This is where the 4e community can sometimes divide sharply between original 4e and essentials. Both lines are compatible with each other, and you can have parties with classes from both lines. Original 4e features AEDU design for the original classes while essentials experiments a little more with different resource ideas for each class and was designed to be more familiar to players of previous editions. Personally, I’d recommend the Player’s Handbook 1 if you’re just starting because that will let you experience 4e as originally designed and plays to the edition’s strengths. I believe there were “premium” or reprint versions that were issued during 4e’s run that included most (but not all) errata. Otherwise, the errata should be available online. If you’d prefer essentials, you want Heroes of the Fallen Lands, which includes the fighter, cleric, rogue, and wizard (Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms has the ranger, Druid, paladin, and hexblade warlock).

That should be plenty to try out the game. If you like it, I’d recommend monster vault: threats to the nentir vale as a great monster book / mini setting. Monster Manual 3 would also be a great next monster book. The dungeon master’s guide 1 and 2 are amazing for advice on running the game. The rules compendium is a wonderful reference book at the table. And if you want more player stuff, I’d either get the player’s handbook 2 next (if you like classic 4e) or one of the “Heroes of…” books if you like essentials.

Finally, if you like the monster vault and DM’s kit adventures, you could consider getting Madness at Gardmore Abbey, which is widely considered one of the best (if not the best) 4e adventures. The level ranges of these adventures mostly line up so you could make a mini campaign.

Have fun!
 

S'mon

Legend
Click on links to purchase/acquire... :)

If you want to try 4e I'd definitely recommend 4e PHB 1 and not worrying about the 'errata', which is nearly all changes to powers & often arbitrary. The PHB is really the core rules manual and has the core magic items & rituals, not just PC classes. I would get a hardcopy PHB for table reference, they are still reasonably priced.

For monsters, Monster Vault is a lot better than MM1. I'd say get MV first, then get MM3 if you can, and/or MV:Threats to the Nentir Vale. MVTTTNV is full of low level adversaries so it maybe makes sense to get it first then get MM3 when your group nears Paragon (11th) level.

I don't have the DM's Kit, I prefer the DMG to the Rules Cyclopedia for treasure parcels. I don't think much of Skill Challenges & wouldn't worry about them. In any case the core rules are in the PHB.

You can also start with the free Keep on the Shadowfell adventure & quickstart. It's free on Drivethrurpg but WoTC actually still have it on their website! https://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/H1.pdf
 
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Click on links to purchase/acquire... :)

If you want to try 4e I'd definitely recommend 4e PHB 1 and not worrying about the 'errata', which is nearly all changes to powers & often arbitrary. The PHB is really the core rules manual and has the core magic items & rituals, not just PC classes.

For monsters, Monster Vault is a lot better than MM1. I'd say get MV first, then get MM3 if you can, and/or MV:Threats to the Nentir Vale. MVTTTNV is full of low level adversaries so it maybe makes sense to get it first then get MM3 when your group nears Paragon (11th) level.

I don't have the DM's Kit, I prefer the DMG to the Rules Cyclopedia for treasure parcels. I don't think much of Skill Challenges & wouldn't worry about them. In any case the core rules are in the PHB.

You can also start with the free Keep on the Shadowfell adventure & quickstart. It's free on Drivethrurpg but WoTC actually still have it on their website! https://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/H1.pdf
Rules compendium is just a lot more concise than either of the DMGs. They are all good books. MM3, MV, and MV:ttNV are the 3 fully updated MMs, MM1 and MM2 are pretty solid, but the later 3 books revisited a lot of monsters and made improvements that are pretty noticeable. MV is the ONE that I would have, above others, as it was intended to recapitulate the core monsters in an Essentials badged product.

The only issue with the DMG is that it simply lacks updated SC rules, and SCs ROCK! You simply have to understand that an SC is kind of like a combat scenario, but you need to really push the plot forward at every toss of the dice. Never leave it at "you could try something else to get past that" or the dreaded "I just keep rolling STR to make progress!" which are NOT how they were intended to run!

I will also say, as frequently I have, that combats really are much better with the same philosophy. '3 orcs in a room' will NEVER be a good time in 4e. It just won't. It will take 45 minutes and by minute 12 the outcome is certain and its all boring from then on. Just say no. A 4e combat is, the room is on fire, the roof starts falling on round 3, and you have to make sure you get out with the book, or else you won't be able to close the demongate in the next scene unless someone is ritually sacrificed! I mean, OK, the stakes can be less world-shattering, but if stuff isn't burning, collapsing, moving, launching, or there isn't some sort of significant action going on and/or goals to achieve besides "slaughter the enemy" then the GM should PROBABLY reduce the encounter to either color, or one situation in an SC and not bother with the combat rules.
 

cavalier973

Adventurer
The DM kit has the advantage of including an adventure with maps. Still, I prefer the core DM Guide. It has rules for creating your own monsters; it has a wider variety of diseases and traps; it has rules for building a random dungeon and stock it with random encounters; it has two pages in the back that portray a dungeon-floor grid that you can xerox—I mean, that you can print off from the pdf, and then take to a print shop to have laminated. Boom. Dry-erase map. It has a short, five-room, bare-bones adventure (“kobold hall”) that you can totally spice up with more traps, more monsters, more treasure...

Speaking of treasure...if you are having your players use core PHB characters, then adventurers’ vaults 1&2 might be useful. I think av2 has “party pack” items, which grant a bonus if every member is using one of the items in the set.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The DM kit has the advantage of including an adventure with maps. Still, I prefer the core DM Guide. It has rules for creating your own monsters; it has a wider variety of diseases and traps; it has rules for building a random dungeon and stock it with random encounters; it has two pages in the back that portray a dungeon-floor grid that you can xerox—I mean, that you can print off from the pdf, and then take to a print shop to have laminated. Boom. Dry-erase map. It has a short, five-room, bare-bones adventure (“kobold hall”) that you can totally spice up with more traps, more monsters, more treasure...

Speaking of treasure...if you are having your players use core PHB characters, then adventurers’ vaults 1&2 might be useful. I think av2 has “party pack” items, which grant a bonus if every member is using one of the items in the set.
I like to take the simple treasures in the PHB and make more complex ones out of it so I didnt even think of that the PHB even mentions non-standard items the DM might throw your way which you might have to find rituals or similar to discover what they do.
 

back when we played 4e we had just the basic PH1 and PH2, we decided to not use any digital tool cause the character's creation/level up system was already overwhelming without any additional content beside the two basic player's books

if i were to play/dm a 4e campaign today just because of the combat system (it does sound like it might be a good ideia) i would just use the two main player's book again,
 

S'mon

Legend
back when we played 4e we had just the basic PH1 and PH2, we decided to not use any digital tool cause the character's creation/level up system was already overwhelming without any additional content beside the two basic player's books

if i were to play/dm a 4e campaign today just because of the combat system (it does sound like it might be a good ideia) i would just use the two main player's book again,

GMing 4e-with-everything currently as secondary DM (so I don't make the rules), I agree with you - I think PHB + PHB2 is probably the optimal experience, certainly if not using the charbuilder. Bringing in other sources for specialised concepts (eg a Martial Power Brawler Fighter) can work well, but I'm playing in a PHB + Essentials Only campaign online, and that works great too.

If you do want to use the charbuilder, this doc takes you through setup: https://img.fireden.net/tg/image/1563/76/1563769640377.pdf
It takes about 20 minutes to do, but it does work! The Portable Compendium linked there works too and gives you all the monsters from everywhere, but sadly there seems to be no monster editor/monster slider around anymore.
This online database includes everything - 4e Database - again a great source for monsters and treasure.
 
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cavalier973

Adventurer
The Essentials Monster Vault has updated monsters from the core Monster Manual, and it involves more than improved math. Dragons, for instance, get two turns in the first round; a dragon rolls initiative, then adds 10 to the result—that is its first turn, and it likely will act before anyone else, and then act again on its initiative roll. All MV orcs get a free action to make a final attack when they drop to zero hit points. Little things, but can add mechanical flavor to a battle.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think there are neat bits in a lot of places developed throughout the edition. like the Monster Vault Threats to the Nentir Vale opens up the use of Swarms in interesting ways (they are not just bugs but military units operating as a team form Orcs to Demons... heck a Phalynx of Jotun becomes a possibility for really epic context.
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Reading through the Lancer RPG, I was curious whether 4e D&D would work if it used (or even been been better received if it had) Zones rather than grid-square based combat.
Well, you lose a lot of the tactical granularity of 4e which its power system is built around. I'm not saying you could not design powers around a zone system, but they would almost inevitably be more abstract, pretty much by definition. At that point you would probably want to shift the conception of what exactly powers DO and how combat is narrated, etc.

That is, if powers aren't operating as a set of heavily interacting tactical factors that PRODUCE the narrative by virtue of their high level of detail and small granularity, then what are they doing? In a game where "that room" is the unit of space and position, you will have to engage some other mechanism or practice within the game in order to generate the fiction of what is going on in "that room." Do you see what I mean?

Now, you could try to recover all of that detail with some sort of more intricate systems in some other dimension, like effects that work in terms of initiative order, or conditions, etc. that would try to recapture something like "I fired Thunderwave through the door into that room and pushed all the bad guys back to the other wall." In 4e that would be a literal change in game state on the grid, and the consequences might include freeing up a path for other characters to enter that room instead of being stuck at the door.

I don't know anything about Lancer or how it does this, but most RPGs that have tried zones either don't really deal with close interior combat that much, or don't actually use them in that case (I'm thinking of Traveller for example). In Traveller you have basically 'range bands', which act somewhat like zones in a scenario taking place in moderately uncluttered terrain. Inside something like a starship they just don't really apply, and you go right to fiction where there actually aren't much in the way of actual rules on positioning. The point being, it isn't at all a tactically detailed game in the same way that 4e is. It has a lot of tactical 'stuff' in it, in a sense, like tons of weapons and gear, but how it all works is very narrative.

So, IMHO, no, 4e doesn't work with zones and such, not really.

As an aside, I'm experimenting with a more 'scaled out' kind of combat to reflect upper tier characters "letting lose" and battling each other on a huge scale in HoML. I don't know exactly how that will work, but my feeling is that you just get a whole other set of 'powers' at that tier. While there will have to be a way to translate them back to the 'standard scale' they are not really the sort of thing you would unleash indoors, basically, or if you did, you would expect some pretty cataclysmic results! (IE a Mythic Fire power isn't just going to burn up some guys over on the other side of the room, its going to explode the whole building, and probably half the neighborhood). Still, there IS a grid, its just BIG! Once you 'go mythic' in your fight, then yeah, terrain and such maybe works a bit more abstractly due to the larger scale, but there are still 'squares' and you can thus pull off all the 4e-like sorts of tactics, just at an epic scale!
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Still, there IS a grid, its just BIG! Once you 'go mythic' in your fight, then yeah, terrain and such maybe works a bit more abstractly due to the larger scale, but there are still 'squares' and you can thus pull off all the 4e-like sorts of tactics, just at an epic scale!
Thief of Legend , the epic destiny has convinced me we may also have an abstraction scope we need to adjust for in anything covering Legend/Myth class... still thinking about it though
 

Thief of Legend , the epic destiny has convinced me we may also have an abstraction scope we need to adjust for in anything covering Legend/Myth class... still thinking about it though
Yeah, there might be an argument for simply creating a 'different game' at epic levels. There are things about that which get tricky though. First of all, is that really a good idea in a game design sense? I mean, people play a game to play THAT game, if you graft a whole other game onto the arse end of it, do they ALSO want to play THAT game? It becomes less likely! Epic already doesn't see much play, it isn't going to see MORE if it is basically a whole other RPG.

Beyond that, logistically it is at least awkward. At what point do you transition to this new paradigm, and how do you narratively justify it? What about interactions with stuff on the previous scale? You'd pretty much have to create some sort of 'ascention' mechanic that would paper over the gap in the two games, and even then the mechanics of the 'base game' would need to have SOME meaning in the epic game. A prized signature power has to either 'amp up' or somehow translate.

I think the idea of a more limited 'scale up' is a good compromise. In classic 4e there's no actual rules difference per se. The idea was supposed to be that you'd just change the fictional situation, and maybe battlefields would get a bunch bigger, etc. For practical reasons it turned out people don't make bigger battlefields (the kitchen table is only so big basically). That left many people feeling a bit let down by 4e epic and complaining that it "wasn't very epic." So there's got to be some sort of middle ground where you can make things a lot more 'gonzo' and actually signify that in mechanical terms, but still retain some essence of the tactical play style of 4e intact.

Which is why I'm thinking of this 'break out' mechanic. So, an 'epic' PC can still fight on 5' squares, but if they want to 'bust out' and take the fight to another level (which you might only do against the highest grade of opponents) then they can play on a 30' grid with a few rules tweaks where things are now pretty crazy, but its still kinda 4e. I mean, maybe it would be a bit like how He Man gets pissed and then yells "By the Power of Greyskull!!!" and everything gets a bit crazy.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Yeah, there might be an argument for simply creating a 'different game' at epic levels.
yes perhaps echos of that kind of thing needs to happen earlier.

There are things about that which get tricky though. First of all, is that really a good idea in a game design sense? I mean, people play a game to play THAT game, if you graft a whole other game onto the arse end of it, do they ALSO want to play THAT game? It becomes less likely! Epic already doesn't see much play, it isn't going to see MORE if it is basically a whole other RPG.
Were not epic destinies considered optional in the first place?

The thief of legend makes me want to do Epic more.This thief can steal almost anything eventually can hints of that show up earlier?

Beyond that, logistically it is at least awkward. At what point do you transition to this new paradigm, and how do you narratively justify it? What about interactions with stuff on the previous scale? You'd pretty much have to create some sort of 'ascention' mechanic that would paper over the gap in the two games, and even then the mechanics of the 'base game' would need to have SOME meaning in the epic game. A prized signature power has to either 'amp up' or somehow translate.
Nods turning up the volume.
I think the idea of a more limited 'scale up' is a good compromise.
I think Swarms are a good contributing flavor as part of the scale up... And allow some of those to scale to terrain effects LOL them demon hoards now them hurt a little when you wade through them.
Which is why I'm thinking of this 'break out' mechanic. So, an 'epic' PC can still fight on 5' squares, but if they want to 'bust out' and take the fight to another level (which you might only do against the highest grade of opponents) then they can play on a 30' grid with a few rules tweaks where things are now pretty crazy, but its still kinda 4e. I mean, maybe it would be a bit like how He Man gets pissed and then yells "By the Power of Greyskull!!!" and everything gets a bit crazy.
I always like the Battle Form style effects, Shifters
 


yes perhaps echos of that kind of thing needs to happen earlier.


Were not epic destinies considered optional in the first place?

The thief of legend makes me want to do Epic more.This thief can steal almost anything eventually can hints of that show up earlier?


Nods turning up the volume.

I think Swarms are a good contributing flavor as part of the scale up... And allow some of those to scale to terrain effects LOL them demon hoards now them hurt a little when you wade through them.

I always like the Battle Form style effects, Shifters
Right, I don't think the EDs, and things like Thief of Legend are so much the issue as the transition within the combat mechanics. Those are kind of what hold 4e 'back' in a sense when it comes to playing an altered game at epic. They are very dependent on a specific formulation. OTOH the general rules, and the SC system, etc. are really rather scale-agnostic. 'Steal the color from the king's eyes' is not really a mechanic at all, so it safely exists outside of questions of swarms and whatnot.

So the tricky part IS the combat part. I am not against the ideas of swarms, but that's just one bit. One of the factors IS scale, the scope of a battle is, given realistic battlemat sizes, in the 25-40 square range. 40 squares is 200 feet. My yard is 100x100 feet, or 20 squares on a side. I don't think a battle that spans my lot is exactly 'epic'. Now, admittedly there are going to be some techniques to alleviate that besides scale perhaps, but they all seem like half measures in some sense.
 

pemerton

Legend
So the tricky part IS the combat part. I am not against the ideas of swarms, but that's just one bit. One of the factors IS scale, the scope of a battle is, given realistic battlemat sizes, in the 25-40 square range. 40 squares is 200 feet. My yard is 100x100 feet, or 20 squares on a side. I don't think a battle that spans my lot is exactly 'epic'. Now, admittedly there are going to be some techniques to alleviate that besides scale perhaps, but they all seem like half measures in some sense.
I tried to grapple with this a bit, but not in any systematic way. Sometimes I used note paper to just track separation (a bit like Traveller range bands) if the field of battle became mobile. (And the (non-)treatment of diagonals certainly helps with that!)

And we did use maps with big distances on them, including A3 blow-ups of the G2 maps (still treating the squares as 10', and ad-hoccing the location of PCs within them when single-square distances mattered).

But the scale of powers - pushing, jumping, etc - didn't change. So our biggest push was still probably only 8 squares (an Invoker using Thunderwave) and our biggest polearm sweep at reach 2 (some combination of epic destiny + fighter feats pulled this off).
 

S'mon

Legend
Right, I don't think the EDs, and things like Thief of Legend are so much the issue as the transition within the combat mechanics. Those are kind of what hold 4e 'back' in a sense when it comes to playing an altered game at epic. They are very dependent on a specific formulation. OTOH the general rules, and the SC system, etc. are really rather scale-agnostic. 'Steal the color from the king's eyes' is not really a mechanic at all, so it safely exists outside of questions of swarms and whatnot.

So the tricky part IS the combat part. I am not against the ideas of swarms, but that's just one bit. One of the factors IS scale, the scope of a battle is, given realistic battlemat sizes, in the 25-40 square range. 40 squares is 200 feet. My yard is 100x100 feet, or 20 squares on a side. I don't think a battle that spans my lot is exactly 'epic'. Now, admittedly there are going to be some techniques to alleviate that besides scale perhaps, but they all seem like half measures in some sense.
Here in London that would be an Epic yard, and you'd be a level 28 Oligarch! :D
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
'Steal the color from the king's eyes' is not really a mechanic at all, so it safely exists outside of questions of swarms and whatnot.
sure its not a mechanic but lets look at how exploring the implications of that ability further interacts with or begs for mechanics

I can with a dead enemy steal his eye color scales to I can with a drop of blood (enemy bloodied) steal their eye color. or even I can at a mere touch steal the subjects eye color (and they likely wont notice)
I can with a dead enemy steal his entire appearance. (now it appears he is alive and I am dead or his body now appears invisible)
or scales to I can with a drop of blood (enemy bloodied) steal their appearance.

We very much could have scaling
 
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