D&D 4E Ben Riggs' "What the Heck Happened with 4th Edition?" seminar at Gen Con 2023

Kannik

Hero
Really the million dollar question is more how long WotC would have flown under the radar? At some point would Hasbro not have just mothballed the whole thing?
Given how Hasbro was operating at the time... maybe. So long as D&D itself wasn't losing money and/or seeming to distract from the MTG cash machine, they might have let it be, and/or at least listened to the WotC heads when they explained why it was a benefit to keep it going.

Or, they may have looked at it, said "eh, whatever, we can lose this," fired everyone involved, trumpeted it on their next earnings call, and hoped for that sweet, sweet short term stock price boost they crave so much. :/
 

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Kannik

Hero
I’m curious. I personally own almost all 4e books (except for the adventures) and I wonder, is there really something missing?

Including all the content from Dungeon and Dragon magazines, it looks pretty much complete to me. We have 24 classes, each with multiple subclasses and countless of options, even 3 kind of psionic classes (after almost 10 years, 5e still has none). So many feats that it’s a already a pain to look through. 3 Monster Manuals and easy rules to create your own monsters, plus multiple more specialist monster source book like Open Grave and Demonomicon…

Maybe it could have get more setting books, but quite frankly, those don’t really need to be tied to an edition in particular, they are more about lore than rules…

What book was really missing?
Really missing? Probably not all that much. (Rather, it could use some trimming -- for example, feats, especially after Essentials where certain feats got duplicated/replaced or older ones got overpowered due to the way Essentials classes were written/operated.) I think the biggest thing that was missing, right from the get go, was a nice fat section on different campaign styles and tones, and how to emphasize those in play, including various optional rules or tweaks. (They also missed including it for the current edition too, alas.)

Though I think a DMG3 on epic campaign options would've been nice to get as well. And there are some character concepts that could've been expressed/added through additional sub-classes, including fixing the beastmaster ranger, a dragon rider, a striker gish (to complement the defender gish), an illusion-focused assassin, a defender-y artificer, and the like. And additional material or errata to bring the newer classes up to snuff compared to the older ones. But those are delightful additions and not really missings per se. :)
 

The DMG talks about DM styles (“gritty” versus “cinematic”, etc.) on page 12. Page 13 lists the pros and cons of episodic campaigns versus ongoing story.
Pages 136 and 137 list several fantasy subgenres, such as “horror”, “swords and sorcery”, and “wuxia”, along with a short description of how to implement them into a campaign.

There is no in-depth advice, though.
 

Red Castle

Adventurer
Though I think a DMG3 on epic campaign options would've been nice to get as well.
I really wonder why they decided not to make a DMG3. I kinda remember that the idea was to release a PHB, Monster Manual and DMG each year, each focusing on a tier of play. But in 2010, we got the PHB3 and MM3, but no DMG3… and it’s not because the line was dying, because they did release more books in 2011 and 2012… and it takes time to write a book, so if they were planning to do a DMG3, odds are they started working on it in 2008 or 2009 (following the idea that they planned to release it same year as the PHB3 and MM3).

Maybe the sales of the DMG2 were too low and they decided to not go forward with a third one… that would mean that it had nothing to do with the short live of 4e but more with a lack of interest with this kind of books.
 

Retreater

Legend
I really wonder why they decided not to make a DMG3. I kinda remember that the idea was to release a PHB, Monster Manual and DMG each year, each focusing on a tier of play. But in 2010, we got the PHB3 and MM3, but no DMG3… and it’s not because the line was dying, because they did release more books in 2011 and 2012… and it takes time to write a book, so if they were planning to do a DMG3, odds are they started working on it in 2008 or 2009 (following the idea that they planned to release it same year as the PHB3 and MM3).

Maybe the sales of the DMG2 were too low and they decided to not go forward with a third one… that would mean that it had nothing to do with the short live of 4e but more with a lack of interest with this kind of books.
IIRC (and I don't have sources), they were planning a DMG 3 to correspond to the Epic Tier of Play.
However, the product schedule all changed with the Essentials Line.
For example Monster products would be changed to fit the "Monster Vault" format. Players Handbooks would become "Heroes of the X..." books. The production of the DMG 3 probably split to the Dungeon Masters Box - and possibly the Rules Compendium.
Even the adventures changed when Essentials released. It was a complete refresh of the game system.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The DMG talks about DM styles (“gritty” versus “cinematic”, etc.) on page 12. Page 13 lists the pros and cons of episodic campaigns versus ongoing story.
Pages 136 and 137 list several fantasy subgenres, such as “horror”, “swords and sorcery”, and “wuxia”, along with a short description of how to implement them into a campaign.

There is no in-depth advice, though.
Of only it talked about which of those styles the actual rules they produced were designed to best support.
 

Kannik

Hero
There is no in-depth advice, though.
-nodnods- That's what I think would have been beneficial when it comes to campaign styles/tones. And refer to it as campaign styles, not just DM styles (especially as I think that is a misnomer, as a DM could be quite flexible in how they run, depending on the campaign). A good half+ page for each one, describing in detail the style/tone (and perhaps including a bit of history and/or examples of such in the D&D universe) and why such styles of campaigns can be great, what they bring to the table and what they emphasize, and also what are the pitfalls, including what certain players might not enjoy. And then a series of optional modules that tweak the core rules, and how for style A, modules 1, 5, and 12 will help support that particular style/tone.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
-nodnods- That's what I think would have been beneficial when it comes to campaign styles/tones. And refer to it as campaign styles, not just DM styles (especially as I think that is a misnomer, as a DM could be quite flexible in how they run, depending on the campaign). A good half+ page for each one, describing in detail the style/tone (and perhaps including a bit of history and/or examples of such in the D&D universe) and why such styles of campaigns can be great, what they bring to the table and what they emphasize, and also what are the pitfalls, including what certain players might not enjoy. And then a series of optional modules that tweak the core rules, and how for style A, modules 1, 5, and 12 will help support that particular style/tone.
That'd be a cool book. Hope someone writes it some day.
 

It's easy to understand why people dislike 4E but don't mind 4Eisms in other TTRPGs. 4E is the defender edition. It has the role of drawing hate and aggression away from 5E. 5E is the Bard edition. It's role is to be likeable while being able to do a lot of different things (not super well but good enough for most).

For example, no one complains about a lack of craft or profession skills in 5E. However, lots of people did in 4E. 4E pulled that aggro away from 5E so 5E players won't have to deal with that negativity.

Tanking is a thankless job, but someone has to it.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
For example, no one complains about a lack of craft or profession skills in 5E. However, lots of people did in 4E. 4E pulled that aggro away from 5E so 5E players won't have to deal with that negativity.
It also helps that 5e restored elements of that by including backgrounds, tool proficiencies, and centering the game around making ability checks instead of following 4e’s lead in burying that under improvised actions and badwrongfunning the whole idea in its marketing.
 

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