D&D 4E Have you ever run 4e using just Essentials?

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I don’t hate any edition of D&D. There are editions I prefer, but I am happy for other people who like the editions that I don’t.

I like 4e, a lot. It’s the only edition on which I have spent a (relatively) substantial amount of money. Some have speculated that, had WoTC called it something different, like “D&D Tactics”, or if they had started with the Essentials line, then 4e might have been more successful. I used to make the latter argument, but I think I was wrong.
I think that WotC’s best tactic was to open up all the editions, with reprints or PoD versions of older rule sets. They actually did this in the latter part of the 4e era. I really like my PoD copy of the Rules Cyclopedia.
Personally, I'd like for them to revert the 4e license and allow a wider 3P engagement with it...
 

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Oh, 4E support for the Virtual Foundry Table Top would be cool. I am not sure I could convince my players to go back to Maptools now that the digital tools are defunct (or at least hard to reenable). Where we didn't have any meaningful support other than condition markers.

Especially because what I actually want to do is a Arcane Unearthed / Diamond Throne 4E campaign with new classes.
 

SlyFlourish

SlyFlourish.com
Supporter
In my late 4e days I ran Essentials-Only and found it a much more enjoyable way to play the game. My players missed having access to all the options, particularly the overpowered options like Twin Strike and other stuff but the game was much smoother and faster. I think if Essentials had been received better, it might have extended 4e longer than the short 4 years it had between 3.5 and 5th.

More here:


 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
In my late 4e days I ran Essentials-Only and found it a much more enjoyable way to play the game. My players missed having access to all the options, particularly the overpowered options like Twin Strike and other stuff but the game was much smoother and faster. I think if Essentials had been received better, it might have extended 4e longer than the short 4 years it had between 3.5 and 5th.
Some interesting insights on your blog. I think this was the hardest pill to swallow for players, especially those that have grown accustomed to having so many options available to them, and regularly fed more on a monthly basis. Thanks for sharing these!

Since I started this personal project a couple of years ago, I've made a few personal observations of my own.

1. WotC double-backed on their Essentials push. This was really obvious after Heroes of Shadows, which was closer to being in-line with the Essentials designs than the original 4e. Heroes of the Feywild and Elemental Chaos were obviously trying to straddle the line between the two by providing half-baked ideas in an effort to appease both sides. Looking back at it now, it appeared to be a last-ditch effort to win over with 4e before the abrupt decision to cut everything and move forward with their new plan.

2. Essentials could have benefited more by removing itself further from the preceding products, rather than trying to shoehorn everything into the increasingly conflicted design space. One such area, for example, is feats. If you carve away the previous mountain of extraneous feats and stick with only those provided in the Essentials line, you'll find very few options uniquely designed for arcane, divine, or primal classes. Perhaps there was something planned in the works, but without the previous materials, wizards and clerics have some very dry choices left. The warpriest and cavalier in particular seemed to move away from any real need for implements (holy symbols, or otherwise), at least until the Death domain was introduced in HoS.

3. People who work on implementing the rules for VTTs, whether past or present, are forced to address some of the conflicts between what is accepted, canon, and preferred. For example, does magic item rarity need to be included for items, or just hand waved to allow GM-fiat? This is more obvious to me with Fantasy Grounds, which the ruleset was clearly designed before Essentials was a thing and missed out on a lot of these newer nuances. Obviously, there is little incentive to push for updates or fixes when they can't even sell content to support the ruleset, so we are left figuring out our own solutions.

Regardless, I try to stay focused on the fun aspects that bring me joy to work with 4e again. Part of that has been rediscovering the system and a lot of good content that I missed before. At the same time, the painful realities are brought to light again with these issues that seem to divide and exacerbate problems that I've seen fixed by modern designs and systems.
 

I don’t want to derail this thread, but would like to ask everyone who’s commented thus far a question which has been in my head for over thirteen years:

How difficult would it be to use Essentials for an old-school game with heavy ToTM?
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
How difficult would it be to use Essentials for an old-school game with heavy ToTM?
That feels like an odd question, because I associate old-school with graph-paper dungeon maps, lead minis, and older (than me, at the time) players who came to D&D from wargaming.
TotM was something I did more of playing Storyteller and Champions in the 90s. ;)

...and the fact I could run Champions TotM means, yeah, you can run anything TotM. (Hero uses hex maps, and has detailed movement, positioning, &c)...

Anyway, yes, you can go oldschool with 4e (see Fourthcore), and, as I've mentioned, I've even run a very old module using Essentials only. Entirely doable.

One thing about running a game with movement/range/area expressed entirely in 5' cubes TotM is that cubes are really kinda easy to visualize. So you can even hold onto some of that limited precision more easily than if it were like, feet and angles and radii and such.
 

That feels like an odd question, because I associate old-school with graph-paper dungeon maps, lead minis, and older (than me, at the time) players who came to D&D from wargaming.
TotM was something I did more of playing Storyteller and Champions in the 90s. ;)

...and the fact I could run Champions TotM means, yeah, you can run anything TotM. (Hero uses hex maps, and has detailed movement, positioning, &c)...

Anyway, yes, you can go oldschool with 4e (see Fourthcore), and, as I've mentioned, I've even run a very old module using Essentials only. Entirely doable.

One thing about running a game with movement/range/area expressed entirely in 5' cubes TotM is that cubes are really kinda easy to visualize. So you can even hold onto some of that limited precision more easily than if it were like, feet and angles and radii and such.
If it helps, old school for me is lighter on combat, focused on exploration and emergent stories (sorry, hate using chic terms, but darn if it isn’t a good way to put it). Combat does occur, but it’s short until you get to the BBEG at the end of the dungeon (dungeon loosely used here).

Otherwise, this is very encouraging! I’ll see what I can find on Fourthcore.
 

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