4E Changing the Combat Parameters of 4th Edition

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I am not sure that I would agree, but I think it is all a preference here.
This is likely true.
I could see a skill challenge for a minor skirmish be resolved with and Athletics group check for all melee fighters and a group Arcana/Religion check for the magic/divine users. Question is what fun is that?
Sounds like a false dichotomy...

The two round finds sound like you find 3 orcs in a square mostly empty sound proof effectively context free room OH look break out the tactics free basic attacks ie it doesnt sound interesting at all... whittle whittle whittle. Sounds un fun to me indeed.

Sometimes you are just showing the area is dangerous and would be deadly to the ordinaries of the world and heros can waffle stomp them. (ie their presence is flavor rather than real danger)

The only way I think they should or need to be a challenge and worth much at all is if they they are only a portion of the scenario ie they occur within a greater context of a regular skill challenge or something which escalates into a larger battle scene unless handled with care (which is where other skills come in to play). ie perhaps they may sound alarm that will bring another wave of enemies or trigger a trap that diverts passage requiring figuring out the ancient writing and the complex mechanisms or floods the area forcing everyone to do athletics including that erudite fellow ... or inspires the party to start using that ritual for breathing water on a more regular basis.

But if you prefer a bunch of boring 2 round isolated fights whose only purpose is to whittle the player characters down and make them vulnerable in the end fight have at it. I kind of like having player characters being at a fairly predictable degree of ability (arent you giving that up)

"There are two ogres stepping out in the road. You quickly kill them and recieve 400 XP. You are now finally on your way to the Dungeon of Doom".

Since 2 round fights cannot really involve tactical choices not sure how they would be any better..

Indeed remove the XP all together from the above... unless its actually interesting and involves thinking, OR even that house rule about Advancing characters levels when it seems appropriate after N adventures (One mentioned by the game designers i vaguely recall)



 
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Myrhdraak

Explorer
The two round finds sound like you find 3 orcs in a square mostly empty sound proof effectively context free room OH look break out the tactics free basic attacks ie it doesnt sound interesting at all... whittle whittle whittle. Sounds un fun to me indeed.
Yes, and that is the purpose here. If your definition of fun is only combat, yes it would be a boring room. I would say 90% of the rooms in D&D history would be boring from that definition. If you compare the 5th Edition adventures towards the 4th Edition ones, you will find hundreds of these small encounters, but the rooms have more details and information tied to exploration. 4th Edition adventures had usually quite short room description and then a dedicated page just to handle the combat and tactics. It was obvious where the focus in the adventure design was.

Sometimes you are just showing the area is dangerous and would be deadly to the ordinaries of the world and heros can waffle stomp them. (ie their presence is flavor rather than real danger)
Yes, but I would exchange the word flavor with exploration instead. Having saved one hour of table time by having a more simple encounter, more time can be free for exploration or role-playing. The small encounters are not a challenge per see, you are going to need 6 to 9 of them (in 5th edition) to make them count.

But if you prefer a bunch of boring 2 round isolated fights whose only purpose is to whittle the player characters down and make them vulnerable in the end fight have at it. I kind of like having player characters being at a fairly predictable degree of ability (arent you giving that up)
I think the purpose of them is not to be deadly or tactical, they are more part of the exploration of the cave system/castle/dungeon, etc. I totally agree that you can build a completly other kind of game play trying to simulate a similar experience by stripping a 5th Edition adventures of 70% of the content, replacing it with skill challenges and a few traditional 4th Edition tactical fights. It would most likely even play faster than 5th Edition, but much of the "old" D&D exploration feel would be lost in the translation. It might be a better game, for some, but if you want to have that "old" feeling AND 4th Edition like tactical combats, I believe you have to do changes to the 4th Edition system in order to allow it to do both. It is harder to make 5th Edition to play like tactical 4th as you would have to add tactical powers to all monsters and classes (which is much more work in my opinion).

4.5 Edition Conversion Guide

/Myrhdraak
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Yes, but I would exchange the word flavor with exploration instead. Having saved one hour of table time by having a more simple encounter,
I think Scribner brought this up earlier but why treat "this" as an encounter, why not just minion speed bump you can explore the room and its cobwebs and blood stains in the corner and nonsensical location all you want even if those goblins go down in one hit to non-optimized non-strikers.. if the danger/fight is uninteresting and un "real" that is what it should be.

Why not go through 70 percent of those 5e adventures and make the encounters minion stomps ...then you can acomplish your true exploratory goal of finding out what is written on that scrap of paper in the corner.(goblin 647's laundry list oh well)
 
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I totally agree that you can build a completly other kind of game play trying to simulate a similar experience by stripping a 5th Edition adventures of 70% of the content, replacing it with skill challenges and a few traditional 4th Edition tactical fights. It would most likely even play faster than 5th Edition
Nod, not so much simulate a similar experience as a similar narrative: You spend days poking carefully through a dangerous underground complex, a surfeit of tedium & anxiety punctuated by moments of violence & horror. The classic/5e approach is to faithfully go through all the tedium in detail and whisk through the brief moments of violence, which must be great for immersions.

The obvious 4e approach would be to abstract the many hours of exploration into a not-too-complex Skill Challenge highlighting the more significant bits, with failures triggering minor encounters, and then linger over a big set-piece battle or few for hours.

but much of the "old" D&D exploration feel would be lost in the translation.
..if you want to have that "old" feeling AND 4th Edition like tactical combats...
Of course, nothing forces you to abstract the fascinatingly intense tedium of dungeon crawling into a skill challenge: you can still explore, map, and clear a devious/improbable tunnel complex in detail, making checks all the while to search each innocuous square foot of crudely-worked stone for fiendish traps and so forth, punctuating that systematic process with a series of 'minion-stomps' and wandering-damage encounters with lone level-appropriate standard lurkers and the like, each quickly resolved in a round or two - AND, still have a climactic set-piece battle or few if you want.

That's not entirely hypothetical, either, I've done it. I left the option of dropping the map and going abstract skill challenge open, and after a bit, the players went for it, but if you have players who can endure the classic dungeon crawl, you can certainly run one.
 
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Myrhdraak

Explorer
Ran my first session with the new 4.5 edition rules. This session was quite roleplay centric, but I got the chance to test the rules in a fight where the 9th level party encountered a Level 15 Thunderfury Boar, and it worked very well. I think the Encounter Level 8 which was the result under the new XP rules described the threat level quite well. The ability to use a wider level range of monster when staging the game as a DM is quite fun.
 

Myrhdraak

Explorer
I have found it quite useful to take a look at the encounter length when I do my adventure planning. It is quite good to ask oneself if the encounter is worth the table time or not from a story point of view. If you want to have table time left for other things as well, it might be worthwhile to cut down on some of the encounter levels.
I have therefore added a chart which allow you as a DM to lookup the average length of the encounter based on your party level and the encounter level. See page 12 in the 4.5 Conversion Guide below.

4.5 Edition Conversion Guide

/Myrhdraak
 
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I have been playing a "playtest" of the 4.5 Rules shared on this thread.

Here are my observations:

1. My players love 4e. 5e is too meh, too simple.
2. The 4.5 conversion has allowed for on average about 20 minutes long combats where the players are all engaged, having fun, and no one seems to think the combats are "too long," a major complaint of 4e.
3. The healing changes are good, except for the "short rest." Having the hour long rest seems to bog the game down. We've "fixed that" by just sticking with 4e short and long rests. But still using the other rules provided.

Overall my players are very much enjoying the game. It will be something we continue in the future.
 
1. My players love 4e. 5e is too meh, too simple.
So they're biased, then. ;P
Also, I've run 5e, including introducing it to new players - it ain't 'simple.' It's familiar to returning players who last played in the TSR era, though...
2. The 4.5 conversion has allowed for on average about 20 minutes long combats where the players are all engaged, having fun, and no one seems to think the combats are "too long," a major complaint of 4e.
Is the savings in rounds or time spent per turn? Is more saved on some turns than others? (ie 5e combat is 'faster' than 4e, but some of the savings is from combats being easier and thus shorter in # of rounds, and some of the savings is in the form of some classes being simplified and taking much shorter turns, while others take as long or longer on their turn than in 4e).
3. The healing changes are good, except for the "short rest." Having the hour long rest seems to bog the game down. We've "fixed that" by just sticking with 4e short and long rests. But still using the other rules provided.
IDK where the idea that an hour was 'short' came from. Minutes vs hours seems 'short.' ;)
 
I believe the issue is more on the DM-side for the rests. IMO in an hour long rest a lot can happen, but with a few minutes passing it's more "realistic" to think that monsters won't emerge to challenge them all the time. I think a few minutes also doesn't seem to disrupt the flow of the adventure. Again, just my opinion and the opinion of my players.

In reference to combat, 4.5 rules change monster hit points to be lower and damage to be slightly higher, so the battles take rounds (about 3 is the usual) and less real time (about 15-20 minutes, on average). This change helps in that we get intense, tactical combat that doesn't eat the night up. Finally, not every fight is designed to be a full immersion combat with terrain and multiple monsters. Some "feel" more like the 5e mindset of skirmishes: quick and easy.

Again, all of this is all just my opinion.
 
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...so the battles take rounds (about 3 is the usual) and less real time (about 15-20 minutes, on average). This change helps in that we get intense, tactical combat that doesn't eat the night up. Finally, not every fight is designed to be a full immersion combat with terrain and multiple monsters. Some "feel" more like the 5e mindset of skirmishes: quick and easy.

Again, all of this is all just my opinion.
Nod. JMHO, too, but I wouldn't expect a lot of tactics to develop & play out in a 3-round combat.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Nod. JMHO, too, but I wouldn't expect a lot of tactics to develop & play out in a 3-round combat.
Yeh so many things take more than that to gel, whole chunks of rules even. My Dragonborn would never see his bloodied benefits nor my deva and those berzerker monsters I made up ... and heck wouldnt it be nigh impossible for enemies to go oh crap I am bloodied and run or get intimdated in to it. Tactical positioning sure sounds like it would be close to gone too... heck might as well make em minion stomps.
 
Nod. JMHO, too, but I wouldn't expect a lot of tactics to develop & play out in a 3-round combat.
That is kinda my concern. My own preference is to stick with the 5 round format, that gives you basically 5 'acts' in which there can be initial setup, rising tension, crisis point, reversal, and final victory (or something like that). So, going with the theme of more but shorter combats, which I don't think is a BAD idea, you'd instead want to streamline the actual combat rounds. That consists of fewer but more distinct options, less tracking, and the potential for a bit more repetition (keeping in mind that this is more acceptable in a 20 minute combat where the NEXT fight will be distinct and require at least a different choice of at-will to lean on). This is my goal with HoML, though it is certainly non-trivial to achieve!
 

Myrhdraak

Explorer
Nod. JMHO, too, but I wouldn't expect a lot of tactics to develop & play out in a 3-round combat.
And that is the purpose. Not every battle need to be a tactical fight. Sometimes you want some smaller skirmishes in between the large tactical fights. That is the beauty of this new design.
 
And that is the purpose. Not every battle need to be a tactical fight. Sometimes you want some smaller skirmishes in between the large tactical fights. That is the beauty of this new design.
Meh, I think the idea is to just have the cool fights and skip the set dressing, or turn it into something besides a fight. I'm very much in favor of the value of table time and find that 4e can burn it rather profligately on fairly trivial tactical points and excess tracking, but I've little need to play out the forgone conclusion against the token group of goblins in the hallway.
 

dave2008

Hero
Meh, I think the idea is to just have the cool fights and skip the set dressing, or turn it into something besides a fight. I'm very much in favor of the value of table time and find that 4e can burn it rather profligately on fairly trivial tactical points and excess tracking, but I've little need to play out the forgone conclusion against the token group of goblins in the hallway.
I think you are missing the point. I haven't tried @Myrhdraah 's revised combat ideas, but he is attempting to create short combats that still matter. It may not be a real threat, but you loose resources. I can't see just hand waving that away with my players.
 
I think you are missing the point. I haven't tried @Myrhdraah 's revised combat ideas, but he is attempting to create short combats that still matter. It may not be a real threat, but you loose resources. I can't see just hand waving that away with my players.
Sure, but I'm thinking of dramatic structure. The objection is there's nothing tactically interesting about a 3 round fight that uses stock tactics. Why not just ding everyone a few hit points and describe the inevitable result? I want to focus on conflict where there are stakes. I can run the 'noise' as an SC and still make it quick and simple if there's some low stakes something (do you lose a surge or not) and if its just 'color' (of COURSE there are guards at the door!) then don't bother to even make them trivial, just describe how the party rogue ganks one from the shadows and the wizard zaps the other with Magic Missile before they can react, GOSH your all bad-asses! ;)

What I aimed for with HoML was instead to make it possible to 'scale up'. In 4e the difficulty, IMHO, is that you HAVE to focus on some sort of very small group of opponents in a fight, and that the game insufficiently rewards things like surprise, so that in the end its all up to mostly the stronger group wins. HoML emphasizes positioning, morale, surprise, leadership, etc a bit more, and it lets you fight a bit wider range and large quantity of enemies if that makes sense in the situation. It is a bit less likely to 'bog down' too. Some of the things I have done resemble some of the things '4.5e' does, but with somewhat different goals. I think 4.5e might be best tuned to running something like old modules and dungeon crawls, but then that is exactly what [MENTION=6694190]Myrhdraak[/MENTION] is after! Honestly, I think his tweaks are pretty nicely focused on that, it is good work.
 

dave2008

Hero
Sure, but I'm thinking of dramatic structure. The objection is there's nothing tactically interesting about a 3 round fight that uses stock tactics.
A coupe of points:

1) I don't feel each encounter needs to be dramatic. In fact, some mundane encounters set up the larger dramatic ones quite well in my opinion. If they area all dramatic they kinda don't stand out as much. The overall drama can be enhanced by having some simpler combats.

2) If you handwave or SC simple encounters then it kinda telegraphs that these encounters are not important, which seriously reduces the tension. If I have a fight with 20 minion and a single standard, it can look like a fight with 20 standards and single elite. When combat starts the ruse is basically up, but how the PCs approach it can be very different.

3) I think a 3 round fight can be tactically interesting.

4) I think a 3 round fight can be strategically interesting


Why not just ding everyone a few hit points and describe the inevitable result? I want to focus on conflict where there are stakes. I can run the 'noise' as an SC and still make it quick and simple if there's some low stakes something (do you lose a surge or not) and if its just 'color' (of COURSE there are guards at the door!) then don't bother to even make them trivial, just describe how the party rogue ganks one from the shadows and the wizard zaps the other with Magic Missile before they can react, GOSH your all bad-asses! ;)
That my work for the group you play with, but it is not how I run games or how my group likes it. That is way to much DM fiat form my tastes.
 
A coupe of points:

1) I don't feel each encounter needs to be dramatic. In fact, some mundane encounters set up the larger dramatic ones quite well in my opinion. If they area all dramatic they kinda don't stand out as much. The overall drama can be enhanced by having some simpler combats.

2) If you handwave or SC simple encounters then it kinda telegraphs that these encounters are not important, which seriously reduces the tension. If I have a fight with 20 minion and a single standard, it can look like a fight with 20 standards and single elite. When combat starts the ruse is basically up, but how the PCs approach it can be very different.

3) I think a 3 round fight can be tactically interesting.

4) I think a 3 round fight can be strategically interesting




That my work for the group you play with, but it is not how I run games or how my group likes it. That is way to much DM fiat form my tastes.
Hey, I don't think its worth getting into a huge debate over, but I would point out that your number 1 and your number 2 are telling against each other. IMHO nobody wants to sit through dull unimportant dross at the table. Point 2 isn't so bad, but it clearly tells me that you always want to avoid point 1!

As for point 2... I don't feel like I need to use that sort of ruse to create tension. There's a LOT of ways to create tension, and if you meet 20 opponents and we throw down the battlemat then tension is there, because its a big fight! Why bother to then let everyone down with a bunch of minions? I mean, minions are great, but I would rather use them for the sort of set dressing they are made for, "yeah, you carve your way through those 20 ninjas and confront the big guy!" This is one of the reasons I found all the arguments for 'tough minions' and such to be largely missing the point too. They SHOULD be trivial.

Now, when I expand the scope of my thinking from "that bunch of minions over there" to "that encounter over there" then I think "Well, this encounter is trivial, its purpose is to provide some verisimilitude/color and allow for a chance that the alarm gets set off, but there's no real combat stakes. I know, I'll make it an SC!" I mean, you probably can't do that in the midst of a combat, hence minions, but in the larger framework of an adventure I see a lot of these things as low complexity SCs with tangential stakes, they can bring about slightly different downstream results, but they're not presenting something like the chance of defeat that would really fully justify the table time expense of combat.

I do get that 4.5e has a little bit different goal.
 

dave2008

Hero
Hey, I don't think its worth getting into a huge debate over,...
Nor do I!

...but I would point out that your number 1 and your number 2 are telling against each other. IMHO nobody wants to sit through dull unimportant dross at the table. Point 2 isn't so bad, but it clearly tells me that you always want to avoid point 1!
That is not true at all, and definitely not what I am trying to say. Perhaps I don't have the skills to explain it better, and I don't desire to try. We just see things differently. I know my approach works for me and my group, I assume your approach works for you. Just best to accept that we play differently and move on.

I just posted because I wanted to point that the concept that the OP is trying to achieve does work for some.
 
Nor do I!



That is not true at all, and definitely not what I am trying to say. Perhaps I don't have the skills to explain it better, and I don't desire to try. We just see things differently. I know my approach works for me and my group, I assume your approach works for you. Just best to accept that we play differently and move on.

I just posted because I wanted to point that the concept that the OP is trying to achieve does work for some.
Yeah, well, sometimes I'm thick too, so don't blame yourself ;) I think its very nice work. There are definitely a few different goals people have with 4e hacks. It would be interesting to see a range of them published.
 

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