4E Core and Essentials

cavalier973

Villager
I have been going back and reading the Core Rules, and am really having a good time doing it. The following thoughts are kind of random....

The Core DM Guide is superior in every way to the Essentials DM Book, excepting for the updated skill challenge rules (which, if one has the PDF of the core DMG has the updated rules).

For a small example, in each book's section on the Town of Fallcrest, area 1 is "The Tower of Waiting", and the descriptions are identical. However, the DMG (core) has a box that has a "DM's Tip" that one of the prisoners held there was a princess that cavorted with devils, and that a small dungeon could be designed for the players to investigate strange goings on there. The DMB (Essentials) gives no such tip.

The DMG has extended rules for traps and diseases, for building random dungeons, for building monsters, for artifacts--all of which are missing from the DMB (the latter tome does have some of those rules, but they are truncated, in my estimation).
 
Some missing crunch may be found in the Essentials RC, which I found much more worthwhile than the DM kit... really, the RC was prettymuch the sole bright spot in Essentials, and even then only for the convenience.

Though it suffered from the initial take on SCs, the DMG1 was otherwise pretty good, the DMG2 was better and fleshed out Paragon. Too bad there was never a 3 to expound upon Epic DMing. :(
 

cavalier973

Villager
Now, the Monster Vault has the updated maths, and the lore is more narratively descriptive (see, for example, the description of a red dragon). The MV1 does not have the "Lore" sections, which give a player more information with a higher successful check.
The MV1 and MV2 suffers from not having any Epic tier monsters over 27th level (a Balor). Without the DMG rules for levelling up monsters (which are neither in the DMB nor the Rules Compendium), the DM who has only the Essentials books will be left with throwing scores of Balors and Elder Red Dragons at the players.
 
Without the DMG rules for levelling up monsters (which are neither in the DMB nor the Rules Compendium), the DM who has only the Essentials books will be left with throwing scores of Balors and Elder Red Dragons at the players.
I never noticed that omission, that's actually pretty bad. Of course, it was easy to level up monsters in the Monster Builder, if you had DDI.

Essentials and after didn't put forth a lot of effort outside heroic, in general.
 

cavalier973

Villager
Essentials and after didn't put forth a lot of effort outside heroic, in general.
No kidding. Even the Hotel/FK "Epic Destinies" weren't really about the character's "destiny", but a small collection of pretty good additional features and powers hanging on a bland, "you're a superhero, now" narrative. No discussion of the character possibly attaining some aspect of immortality.

I am speaking disparagingly of Essentials, but I am actually a big fan, and were I to run a game campaign, I would strongly encourage the players to choose the 4eE races/characters.

It is grievously unfortunate that there was not an Essentials Warlord, especially since five classes---knight, slayer, thief, scout, and hunter--all used basic attacks modified by stances,,which would,have been ideal when paired with a warlord who could dish out basic attacks like candy, but from what I could tell, the developers of 4eE were highly unappreciative of the warlord class.

The 4eE knight gains a very few leader-like powers--if the right skills are chosen, so it could have been developed into a defender-y warlord-style leader...
 

cavalier973

Villager
Things I like about the 4eE character class/races:

Non-human races get one static ability bump and a choice between two other abilities to bump. If the character builder is a guide, then this applied to core races after 4eE was introduced.

I like that the warpriest gets heavy shield proficiency as a class feature. I like that the thief gets additional skill training at higher levels. I like that the Hexblade uses melee attacks.

I like the updated weapon and implement expertise feats that add features to the +1/2/3 per level attack bonus, as well as the superior defense feats, which give additional benefits to the +1/2/3 per level bonus.

(These feats are compatible with core character classes, of course.)

I like that classes--for the most part--don't have to split their ability scores. A warpriest only needs a high wisdom for attack rolls, not wisdom or strength. (Constitution is actually the preferred second highest ability score, for the secondary effects of some powers.) A Cavalier needs a high strength and secondarily a high Charisma, and the player isnt penalised for not having a high wisdom, as well.
 
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No kidding. Even the Hotel/FK "Epic Destinies" weren't really about the character's "destiny", but a small collection of pretty good additional features and powers hanging on a bland, "you're a superhero, now" narrative. No discussion of the character possibly attaining some aspect of immortality.
They were trying really hard to return to the class/level tables of yore, which meant bland PP/EDs that were extensions of the class at those levels.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
No kidding. Even the Hotel/FK "Epic Destinies" weren't really about the character's "destiny", but a small collection of pretty good additional features and powers hanging on a bland, "you're a superhero, now" narrative. No discussion of the character possibly attaining some aspect of immortality.

I am speaking disparagingly of Essentials, but I am actually a big fan, and were I to run a game campaign, I would strongly encourage the players to choose the 4eE races/characters.

It is grievously unfortunate that there was not an Essentials Warlord, especially since five classes---knight, slayer, thief, scout, and hunter--all used basic attacks modified by stances,,which would,have been ideal when paired with a warlord who could dish out basic attacks like candy, but from what I could tell, the developers of 4eE were highly unappreciative of the warlord class.

The 4eE knight gains a very few leader-like powers--if the right skills are chosen, so it could have been developed into a defender-y warlord-style leader...
Well, you can use a 4e warlord right along any 4eE class. They work together just fine (4e and 4eE classes). We didn't have a warlord, but we mixed and match 4e and 4eE classes in our group with no issues.
 

cavalier973

Villager
Well, you can use a 4e warlord right along any 4eE class. They work together just fine (4e and 4eE classes). We didn't have a warlord, but we mixed and match 4e and 4eE classes in our group with no issues.
You are correct, but someone who bought only the Essentials products would have missed out.

One or two of the Dragon issues offered a complete update to the warlord, renamed the "Marshall", but one would have had to had a DDI subscription.

As an aside, one of the big promotional activities (that I think surprised the D&D team by its popularity) was the Acquisitions, Inc. podcasts. The players were given the pregens from Keep on the Shadowfell, amd Jerry Holkins's character was the half-elf cleric.

I wonder how different the series would have been had Omin been a warlord, instead. One of the pregen characters was a dragonborn paladin, so they introduced one of the new player races; they should have introduced the new classes, as well.

In the free re-release of KotS, they added a Tiefling Warlord.

The pregens in the 4e Starter Set (a three-encounter mini dungeon) were the same as in KotS, excepting that the cleric was human, and the wizard was an Eladrin.
 
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cavalier973

Villager
So, in Dragon # 418, I found the 4e version of the Thoul. Awesome. Someone in a MM/MV readthrough thread made the observation that 4e was derived more from Moldvay/Mentzer Basic than from AD&D, which means that the Thoul should have been in MM1.

Anyway...

Essentials dragons are cooler than their Core counterparts, because they get to act twice (at least in the first turn) and get to act first, basically, with their "Instinctive action" which give them an extra action on their initiative roll + 10 (if the dragon's initiative roll is 24, and the players all roll initiatives of, say, 25 through 30, the dragon still goes first, with its instinctive action on an initiative of 34.) I am unsure whether they get this second action each round, or just on the first one.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
Essentials dragons are cooler than their Core counterparts, because they get to act twice (at least in the first turn) and get to act first, basically, with their "Instinctive action" which give them an extra action on their initiative roll + 10 (if the dragon's initiative roll is 24, and the players all roll initiatives of, say, 25 through 30, the dragon still goes first, with its instinctive action on an initiative of 34.) I am unsure whether they get this second action each round, or just on the first one.
Each round they get the extra action. That is how we read it and played it. Notice they often loose the action to overcome a condition (if a remember correctly). That is not very useful if it is only available the first round and your acting before most of your attackers.
 
Each round they get the extra action. That is how we read it and played it. Notice they often loose the action to overcome a condition (if a remember correctly). That is not very useful if it is only available the first round and your acting before most of your attackers.
Or they take the ("Instinctive?") action even if under a condition, but still suffer the condition on their regular initiative count.
 
Hmm - I don't remember reading it that way. Of course that is generally a worse choice for the dragon.
Some were written one way, I'm sure, I remember some (one in particular in Encounters) written the other.
Still others didn't get an instinctive action or extra initiative, but negated conditions at the start of their turn. There was quite a variety of Solo 'action preservation' traits & powers, so I'm not certain I'm remembering any of them right.
 

cavalier973

Villager
So, one of the worst omissions, in my opinion, from the Essentials DMB is a section on mapping,out dungeons. This should be a basic bit of instruction.

Brand new DMs may be able to figure out how to design dungeons/draw maps from the included 2-part adventure, but it seems to me a DM's guide should have an explicit section on the subject. The core DMG has such a section, includong map symbols one could use, and how to create dungeons randomly.

As it turns out, the 4eE Red Box starter set does have a section discussing the design and mapping of dungeons, so a brand new DM would need that product as well as the DM kit.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
Some were written one way, I'm sure, I remember some (one in particular in Encounters) written the other.
Still others didn't get an instinctive action or extra initiative, but negated conditions at the start of their turn. There was quite a variety of Solo 'action preservation' traits & powers, so I'm not certain I'm remembering any of them right.
Good point, I was thinking about the dragons specifically, which I believe were all similar, but other solos handled it differently.
 
It is grievously unfortunate that there was not an Essentials Warlord, especially since five classes---knight, slayer, thief, scout, and hunter--all used basic attacks modified by stances,,which would,have been ideal when paired with a warlord who could dish out basic attacks like candy
That might have been part of the issue. Also, the Warlord was a poster-boy for most every innovation in 4e that was a lightning rod for edition warring. And, following the apparent Essentials Martial paradigm, would, himself, have had to have been a stance-holding, basic attack spammer. How /that/ would've worked IDK - either that or, like the Hunter, hybridized martial with some other source to pull in acceptably-supernatural role support. Like, the eWarlord could've been a … IDK, paladin, crusader, templar were all taken, something connoting a religious-military-leader Joan of Arc type … pulling in Divine leader powers. Heck, if they'd thought've it they could've made the Warpriest a sort of Warlord|Cleric, with eMartial at-will stances, a choice of smite/heal/turn encounters, and Divine dailies & utilities.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Some missing crunch may be found in the Essentials RC, which I found much more worthwhile than the DM kit... really, the RC was prettymuch the sole bright spot in Essentials, and even then only for the convenience.

Though it suffered from the initial take on SCs, the DMG1 was otherwise pretty good, the DMG2 was better and fleshed out Paragon. Too bad there was never a 3 to expound upon Epic DMing. :(
Ah, come on, man. Outside of CharOp games and the Vampire and Binder, nothing in essentials was actually noticeably unbalanced, and there were a ton of really fun options. The player books were presented well, the "e+" content like the Skald and executioner were a hell of a lot of fun to play, but so were the E rangers, thief, etc. I know that on paper the spell casters get a power up, but through a few hundred hours of play with different groups, it just doesn't show up in play.
 

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