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

Imaro

Legend
I use milestone xp in 5e and I used it in Pathfinder. I think I started using it in 3.5 or 3e and said level ups would just happen at appropriate times and stopped tracking xp when all the classes were on the same chart.

I had forgotten there was an xp element to skill challenges at all. :)

I use skill challenges to have a group oriented challenge with mechanics where everybody participates instead of a single character making a single skill roll.

It is to get multiple people engaged in a group activity for multiple rounds with each bringing in their character's specialties and individual approaches and having decision points that impact the action.

Sometimes a single character using a single skill roll is appropriate for a situation. Sometimes I want it to be a whole party thing when appropriate so I go with a skill challenge type of situation.

I did one in my 5e game a bit ago to do an Indiana Jones style street escape when the party was running away from a gang of hobgoblins and ghouls on their figurine of carrion crawling motorcycle with sidecar. One character was driving with decision points of focusing on speed or direction or maneuverings, one was hanging on to a rope while levitating and making decisions and checks on whether to pull himself towards the vehicle or focus on not getting wrapped around lamp poles, one was throwing obstacles at their pursuers, etc.

I remember running a bunch in Pathfinder where the party was trying to do a group ritual to use weird stuff that was around (fey magic nodes, midnight necromancy, etc.) and different party members' ideas and contributions to get something done that was not covered by a specific spell, having a necromancer use an animate dead scroll to bring back a party member as a sentient undead, accessing witch tower stuff to create an effect, etc.

I have no idea if I am doing it by the book for 4e rules, I am mostly going off the concept as advertised by WotC and as makes sense when I am dming. I don't formally have things setup as x successes before y failures, I want everyone to take actions in turn and make decisions in my skill challenges, sometimes with everybody contributing once, sometimes for a couple rounds just as if it was a combat with no attacks, and then I adjudicate based on the situation and choices and some impacts of the die rolls as seems appropriate.

It has been an enhancement to my games when I want to make resolving something more of a group activity.
Thanks for answering and it certainly seems like you've created your own SC structure (no xp, no # of failures vs success, no set DC's, etc.) that works for you. I'm not sure 4e (at least the rules) really added much to your design...I guess maybe initiative??

For me there is a situation... the PC's have a goal and it's very much on them to go about figuring out how to deal with the situation to attain their goal. I don't formalize it with initiative but everyone is involved through the use of group checks and aiding.

Edit: Also in providing back up for characters who fail a check.
 

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Red Castle

Adventurer
I'd be interested to know if they believe the two provide the same play/DM experience just presented differently?
Me personally, I love both 4e and 5e, but I don’t think they offer the same play/DM experience, even though they have a lot of similarity.

For the roleplay/non-combat encounter part, I think that they are pretty close and don’t think one system limits me more compared to the other. Both are pretty simple and easy to adapt to any situations and needs. I never felt like I was limited in either systems, just like I never felt like I was limited when I played 2e… although personally I would never go back to the skill system of 2e. As much as I was not sure of the limited skill list when 4e came out, I came to love this less is more approach. I personally also love to run a skill challenge from time to time, although I won’t always follow the formula presented in the 4eDMG, I prefer to run the action focus ones (like a chase for exemple) as a big narrative scene divided in multiple rounds instead of the classic X success before 3 failures, it helps with the rythm I think. I don’t use XP though, I’m going by milestones.

For the combat part though, I much prefer 4e, especially as a DM. Monsters Stat Block is fun, quick and easy to use. I find it easier to build a balanced encounter or one to the difficulty I want. Combat, to my experience at least, are more dynamic in 4e, and I love that each class are balanced and clearly divided in roles, so it feels like that everybody always have something to do and feel like they are an important part of the team.

So, while I’ll never refuse to play in a 5e game (if my limited schedule allow it of course) and know I’ll have fun playing it, as a DM I’ll always choose 4e over 5e. Both are similar for the roleplay part but I prefer the combat part from 4e.
 

Hussar

Legend
Just to clarify.

When I’m talking about the similarities between 4e and 5e, I’m not saying they are the same game at all.

But, when people talk about why they don’t like 4e and then ignore the very same things in 5e, it’s pretty obvious that the issue isn’t one of substance. Not liking 4e because of dissociated mechanics is fine. I can understand the problem even if I don’t agree. But then turning around and lauding the very same mechanics in 5e is rather bewildering. A 5e rogue is an Olympic sprinter. No matter what, that character is twice as fast as almost any other character. Now, that doesn’t bother me. I like 4e. I have no issue here. But if that sort of thing bothered you in 4e elegy is it okay in 5e?

A fighter with ten hp takes nine damage. He is visibly wounded. Six seconds or less later he second winds and shouts his arm back on. Not a problem. :erm: Again this doesn’t faze me. But a 4e critic should be freaking out over this. On and on.

Every single problem you had with 4e appears in 5e. If you didn’t like something in 4e, why doesn’t it merit the same level of angst now? You being a generic, general, 4e critical you.

It’s not about the games playing the same. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how all those huge issues that 4e had also appear in 5e but apparently are suddenly fine.

It’s like watching someone tell me how much they hate pineapple pizza while chowing down on pineapple pizza just because they cut up the pineapple smaller and then covered it with extra cheese.

At least the OSR crowd are consistent.
 

Yalım

Explorer
Very weird perspective, because I see complaints about second wind (and other non-meat HP effects) from people who disliked 4e. I also see complaints about 5e's crafting system, like just recently I think the top post on the D&D 5e reddit involved a user indicting WotC for not caring to write crafting rules (in their view: I don't want to take a stand on that in this thread). Of all my yucks about 4e, every single one was either addressed by 5e or was left in 5e and I've complained about it.

All this to say, I think you are drawing broad conclusions from a non-representative sample of players.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Very weird perspective, because I see complaints about second wind (and other non-meat HP effects) from people who disliked 4e. I also see complaints about 5e's crafting system, like just recently I think the top post on the D&D 5e reddit involved a user indicting WotC for not caring to write crafting rules (in their view: I don't want to take a stand on that in this thread). Of all my yucks about 4e, every single one was either addressed by 5e or was left in 5e and I've complained about it.

All this to say, I think you are drawing broad conclusions from a non-representative sample of players.
Complaints? Sure. There's been the odd grumble here and there.

Absolute rejection? Refusal to play? Abandoning the game for another game? Not seeing that so much. Yet, all these crucially important issues were massively important in explaining why 4e was a bad game. Why it was a rejection of all things D&D. Why it failed.

And, you've been complaining? Where?
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Complaints? Sure. There's been the odd grumble here and there.

Absolute rejection? Refusal to play? Abandoning the game for another game? Not seeing that so much. Yet, all these crucially important issues were massively important in explaining why 4e was a bad game. Why it was a rejection of all things D&D. Why it failed.

And, you've been complaining? Where?

A few points on this. I think that this can easily be viewed at from the other perspective, as well. If 5e is so similar, then the existence of certain people (and you know who they are, because they exist on this forum) who have absolutely rejected 5e for abandoning the awesomeness of 4e is also inexplicable. And the simplest answer for this is the obvious one- people are not completely logical, are they? They do not have to play by the rules that we think make sense. In fact, I know that I am correct when I assume that you are not 100% coherent in all of your beliefs, for the simple reason that no person is. The unexamined life may not be worth living, and yet we all live it.

But let me provide an anecdote. I still remember going to a store and picking up a copy of the 4e DMG to leaf through it and see if I wanted to run it, and on the first page under what I needed to play, it said (for things that were required) that I needed a battle map and miniatures.

And I NOPED right on out at that point. Because I enjoy theater of the mind, and I was reading a book that was upfront telling me that the way I played was not welcome in that vision of D&D. Right at the start. But that's just me.

To very briefly make a point which I think is often lost- one of the great strengths of 4e was that it was incredibly prescriptive. It had a point of view, and it was telling you how to play. A lot of people loved the 4e DMG for just that reason . Again, because it had a point of view and was telling you how to play. We see people, today, who constantly say ... "I wish that the 5e DMG was like the 4e one, because it told you how to play!"

But 5e took the opposite approach. Basically, 5e is a whole lot of "whatever, man, it's all good." It didn't take a strong stand on anything. Which can make for a very frustrating experience for some. But it also allowed for people to read into it what they wanted. It's why you can look at 5e and see parts of 4e, while other players can look at it and read into it strong similarities with 2e. It reflects back what people want to see.

Basically, you're looking in a mirror and trying to say, "Why don't you see me?" And other people are confused, because when they look at that mirror, they're saying, "Brah, chill. That's not you. That's me."

The reason I find the whole conversation unenlightening is this- 5e isn't 4e. It's also not 3e or TSR-era D&D. It's its own thing. At this point, the vast majority of people that are playing it are people that are brand-new to the game and the hobby. While this forum (in terms of active posters) certainly skews older, that's not representative of the large number of people who play 5e today.

They don't care about these types of things. If you want to know why people didn't play 4e, or why they did play 4e, you can ask them, and accept their answers. Or not! But trying to "logic them" at this point is not going to work. I mean ... has it?
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
It's often frustrating, but true. People like what they like, and humans have a tendency to wrap their identity around things they like. We join tribes, effectively. You'll get Marvel fans who rail about the weaknesses of DC and vice versa. Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Gobots vs. Transformers...I kid, nobody likes Gobots.

Anyways, you can create a Power Point presentation to show that the elements of the thing they don't like exist in the thing that they do all day long- they will reject it because there's some fundamental difference to them, even if they can't articulate it. People like what they like.

If you liked 4e, then someone saying "oh it was just World of Warcraft" or "every class was exactly the same" is going to annoy you, just like if you say that to a 5e fan that their game is "simple and bland, like oatmeal".

For a long time, I fought against the spread of disinformation; a lot of things people say about 4e are just parroted from others, to the point people who have never even so much as looked at a 4e book will repeat the same things about it!

It's been hard to come to terms with the fact that this is just human nature at work. Many people who have embraced 5e want it to be the greatest version of D&D ever, and will denigrate other games to prove that their preferred vision is better, all the while blissfully ignoring it's flaws (and the same is true for fans of every edition ever, including 4e!).

The thing you like is a shining pinnacle of human achievement, the thing you don't like is hot garbage, lol. Naturally, this isn't true for all humans- individuals tend to be a lot more nuanced about their likes/dislikes, and you might even run into those mutants who like 4e and 5e! But it's common enough, regardless.

The thing to keep in mind is, the pendulum swung before, and it will likely swing again. Attitudes shift, ideas change, and what were once amazing ideas can become dated and old-fashioned. So here's to 6e, which fans of 5e and 4e will hate equally, so we can once again live in harmony!
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
The thing to keep in mind is, the pendulum swung before, and it will likely swing again. Attitudes shift, ideas change, and what were once amazing ideas can become dated and old-fashioned. So here's to 6e, which fans of 5e and 4e will hate equally, so we can once again live in harmony!
It will be interesting to see 10, 20, maybe 30 years from now.
 


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