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

Tony Vargas

After a long pause, I was finally able to get back to some personal projects I had started early last year. The goal was to create a suite of modules that will allow me to run a streamlined version of 4th edition D&D on Fantasy Grounds.
1. Should I allow Fighters, Rogues, and Rangers to gain Daily powers? These are typically gained at levels 1, 5, 9, and then replaced at 15 and 19. (I'm not looking past level 20 at this point.) Since they are not competing with pre-Essential builds, there is no issue of balance across that line. I'm just looking to give them a little more to do like other classes so they're not just doing "basic-hits" all day long.

So, like, year late, but I missed if anyone offered an opinion on 1.

Yes. You could, to KISS, just lift Brute Strike (for the Slayer) and Comeback Strike (for the Knight) and just give a second use at 5th & a third at 9th. You could bump the damage dice at 5th and 15th, perhaps (or bump Brute Strike enough to keep it feeling better than power strike). If a player expressed interest, you could let them swap one in for a real fighter exploit.

But, if you want to keep the essentials feel/pattern of martial source sub-classes making basic attacks, you could make them work like Power Strike, just tacked onto a successful basic attack.

Have you ever run 4e using just Essentials?​

Yes, yes I have. :)

Specifically I ran Temple of the Frog, straight out of the pages of Blackmoor Supplement II, using Essentials. So maybe I ran 0e using just Essentials? :🤷:

It worked.
Surprisingly, the mini-encounters in small rooms and random encounters in corridors do work in Essentials, they present threats you wouldn't waste a daily on (or maybe even an encounter, since you might not want to rest right after, y'know, in the middle of a corridor), so they tend to take care of themselves, stringing naturally together into a de-facto encounter, or making the next encounter slightly tougher.

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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
@Tony Vargas Thank you! I've been waiting a year for someone to come in and tell me how it could work. I never believed 4e was so tightly wound that you couldn't tweak anything without wrecking the fabric of space and time! On the contrary, I think it is easier to do because it is so tightly structured. So thank you again for coming in with examples and ideas.

Tony Vargas

That's just balance. Usable complexity.

You can use 4e in a lot of different ways. Different pacing or wealth assumptions, banning classes or whole Sources - all sorts of things you might want to do to define a setting. You don't need to change the rules much in the process, you might use a different option, like clicking on Inherent bonuses, or using or not using Themes/PPs/EDs etc. It still works.


I was reading Dragon 369 today (the sixth in the 4e era) which has articles on playing Minotaurs and the Demonomicon of Baphomet and I double checked the 4e MM Minotaur entry and they go pretty hard in there on Minotaurs being inherently demon blooded and savagely evil influenced by Baphomet similar to Gnolls and Yeenoghu.

Looking back at the materials, 4e was pretty big on inherently evil monstrous races to start, with options for some to overcome that inherent evil.

Tony Vargas

CE in 4e was about the evilest evil that ever eviled in D&D cosmology. Demons weren't just cruel or unpredictable, they wanted to destroy the universe (themselves included), their corruption (and that of merely-Evil Devils) was an objective thing stemming from the Shard of Evil. Primordials 'only' wanted to destroy the World, all natural creatures, according to the Dawn War myth, and it seems like many elementals take that to heart, still. While I liked the take on Demons - they made the most monstrous monsters, and it was fun to run something that would routinely trigger marks and take up bravuras on that bonus attack and otherwise go for the most damage to all involved, every time - I wasn't happy with traditionally good elementals, like djinn, suddenly being CE because they picked the wrong side in an ancient conflict.

The idea that any natural race was CE is pretty whack - how would they survive? Demons are just being constantly spontaneously generated in the Abyss, that's their excuse. 🤷 Every natural species being innately 'unaligned,' with anything else being an individual choice, would make more sense.
Unaligned was a real boon, it's not the weird grey middle ground of true neutral, it's just y'know, sentient behavior...

Oh, and Slaadi being CE made sense. I mean, they've always been essentially Xenomorphs out of the Alien franchise, just designed by HL Stephens instead of HR Gieger.
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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Which is pretty old school! 4e never gets credit for the sacred cows it resurrected.
If that was an intentional pun, then
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Running simulation games on FGU. I am amazed to find there is so much functionality and automation built into the system. It is a shame that it took me this long to find out how well FG is equipped to handle 4e (along with many other systems). Of course, it is difficult to demonstrate or show it when everyone is forced to build their own support material because a license won't allow anyone to develop, share, or otherwise support it.

No matter. I have what I need to start running 4e again. Soon.


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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Since I started running simulation games like this using only the basic Essentials options (for the time being), I just noticed something. Clerics (warpriests) and paladins (cavaliers) still have proficiency with holy symbols, but it looks like most (if not all) of their powers from their respective Heroes books lack the implement keyword. So, in an Essentials only game, magic holy symbols are largely useless as implements unless they offer some special property or power.

Not sure how feel about that. I know the intent was to keep it backwards compatible, even though they pushed everyone in organized and public play to utilize only Essentials forward material. It's just an observation at this point. Thoughts?

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