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D&D 4E Help a 4e N00B


First Post
Okay. I've just finished a campaign in Red Box DnD (the one that doesn't go above 3rd level and Dwarf is a character class). Now, my Red Box DM is thinking of running us through something in fourth edition. In other campaigns, I've played or DMed 2e, 3e, and 3.5. I'm sticking with my ongoing third edition campaigns.

But, all I know about this edition is through the edition wars interwebs, so, in short, I know nothing. I don't own the books.

What one thing would you tell someone like me before they sit down to read the Player's handbook? Examples: What one expectation should I set aside? What's one cool thing to look out for? What's the AoO or THACO of this edition? What character class should I play and why?

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James McMurray

First Post
What one thing would you tell someone like me before they sit down to read the Player's handbook?

[W] means "weapon damage." So if your weapon normally deals 1d8 and you have an attack that deals 3[W], you'll deal 3d8. It's very basic, but gets asked a lot because the powers frequently reference it, but they don't explain it until much later in the book.

What one expectation should I set aside?

Vancian magic. Except as a small portion of the Wizard class, Vancian magic doesn't exist.

What's one cool thing to look out for?

That depends on what you think is cool. I like the way this edition made movement and tactics an integral part of the game.

What's the AoO or THACO of this edition?

AoOs work the same as 3.x but simpler. Attack bonuses are like 3.x's BAB.

If you meant "what's confusing" I can't think of anything.

What character class should I play and why?

Whichever one's role and powers look fun to you.


First Post
First thing about 4th edition: There are no editions before, forget them ;) No really, the rules are completely different. I am playing it half a year now as a DM and my players still refer to old rules that do not exist in 4th.

Second: THAC0 is now your to-hit bonus. Just add the bonus to a roll of the d20 and if you reach the appropiate defense, you hit. Speaking of defenses, there are 4 now. The old saving throws are now defenses. There are Your Armour Class, Fortitude, Reflex and Will. They all work the same way, attack roll versus defense. Hit if D20 + Bonus = Defense.

Third: Very important, optimizing your character is less important. Instead try to optimize the group. Grouptactics have become very important.

Fourth: Every class is cool. There is no class that can´t do fancy things. Fighters can now do their own "magic". (comprised of hacking and slaying, but without spilling blood on the audience, that would be rude :D)

Sixth: What class you should play? Give the Warlord a chance. He is like a fighter, with less AC and damage but he can dish out boni to the entire group, and he can heal. I like Warlords.


First Post
To clarify: by THACO and AoOs I meant to imply "notoriously confusing" rule or term, but help clarifying attacks is pretty much always appreciated.


Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
It's a lot more fun for me to play than to read. Don't try to read all the powers; your eyes will cross. :)

I recommend you download the free Character Builder demo from WotC's site. It'll make heroes up to 3rd level, and it's a nice way to make a character and have the math done for you.


What one thing would you tell someone like me before they sit down to read the Player's handbook?
As someone who greatly enjoys 4e, I'll echo Piratecat and say, "Don't read the whole thing." Unless, that is, you love reading what amount to spell lists. Reading the entire PHB seems like a very unpleasant way to spend your time. :)

The class descriptions will give you a good idea of how a class operates. I wouldn't read past the first 3 levels of powers for any classes you're interested in.

Examples: What one expectation should I set aside?
Saving throws are different. Conditions (apart from Slowed, most of the time) are, arguably, more important than damage for most classes. Also, small bonuses to-hit are huge. Large bonuses to hit are probably the best benefit in the game. Because combats last longer, a slight shift in percentages can make a huge difference.

What's one cool thing to look out for?
Interactions, IMHO. Try to figure out how a group of characters can work together as a team. As a very simple example, a Warlord's Wolfpack Tactics mean that their Rogue buddy will almost always be able to sneak attack.

What's the AoO or THACO of this edition?
I've been playing for long enough I don't remember... Sorry. :/

What character class should I play and why?
It depends on what you want to do. I'd look at one of four character classes (just personal preference)

Fighter: I think every group needs one. Seriously. Fighters are a lot more tactical than most other classes, and though you may get some damage envy, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Fighters control the whole battle. (As a note, use a shield. You'll be attacked a LOT.)

Rogue: Again, you have a lot of tactical options. You can do an astonishing amount of damage with a Sneak Attack, and you have a few options which make this potentially one of the most entertaining classes in the game. Both "builds" work - just be sure to pick up the attack vs. Reflex. :)

Warlord or Cleric: If you want to get into the middle of fights and boss people around, take Warlord. Tactical warlords are best if you have someone else who can do healing. Inspiring warlords are probably better if you don't. If you want to really dominate with healing and crush undead, Clerics are pretty amazing. If you go Cleric, concentrate either on your Wisdom-based attacks or on your Strength-based attacks. Don't try to do both.

Wizard: Yes, they get criticized a lot. They are not always the most powerful characters, but then again I don't think they're always played right. If you try to build a wizard like a striker - that is, concentrating on damage rather than on special effects - you will hate it. If you concentrate on effects, you will probably love it. Orb wizards are my favorite. Staff wizards are also excellent. Wand wizards, I'm less impressed with.

If you want interesting stuff to do, stay away from Rangers. If you want a very simple character, on the other hand, you can't lose with them. Arguably, they're the least-tactically-interesting class in the game - particularly the Archer ranger. They set up interesting tactics for everyone else, but you might get bored just rolling attacks and damage.

Paladins have some flaws, but if you are short-handed, they can do a decent job as a hybrid fighter-cleric.

Warlocks can be amazing, but IMHO they're kind of a fifth character, once you have all the other roles filled. Still, they're my favorites - they have more flavor than any other class in the game.

I hope this helps!



First Post
there's already been tons of great advice. as a player and GM of 4e, i definitely agree w/ not reading every page of every class: your eyes will hate you for it, and most of it won't make any sense to you anyway.

me personally, i'm a real big fan of the paladin class, mainly b/c i think it's mechanically a more interesting class than other defender, the fighter. warlords are also very interesting, although i think they stink at the very early levels.

i don't know if you're the kind of player who likes to fill gaps in a group, but what do you know about the rest of the party? that might be really, really important. also, find out what books are/aren't in play: PHB1 only? PHB2 and/or martial powers? FR material?


First Post
What one thing would you tell someone like me before they sit down to read the Player's handbook? Examples: What one expectation should I set aside? What's one cool thing to look out for? What's the AoO or THACO of this edition? What character class should I play and why?

The coolest thing for me on the player side is how the classes work well together. In 4e, all the classes are assigned "roles" that define how they are supposed to work together in combat. Defenders "tank" the bad guys...they absorb damage and protect other members of the party...leaders heal and buff others (but still can deal out lots of damage)...strikers deal out more damage than anyone, and controllers (of which there is only the wizard in the PHB) help cut down minions and shape the terrain of the battlefield to the player's advantage.

The coolest thing on the DM side is how easy it is to create or customize a monster and to run the game. Combat is very efficient with less bookkeeping and more action, giving us more time to roleplay.

I love all editions of D&D (including BECMI...the Rules Cyclopedia is a beautiful thing) but 4e is my favorite so far with regard to prep time and combat fun.

The only bad thing about 4e for me is that there are no simple class choices. My more casual players used to be perfectly happy playing fighters and now that's as complex an option as any. But with the Character Builder, it's not hard to generate a character and cards for the powers, and that helps.

The "AoO" or "Thac0" of the new rules is the Stealth skill in my opinion. Download the update to the Player's Handbook for the revised Stealth rule to save yourself some headaches.

Official D&D Updates
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First Post
Going from BECMI to 4e will actually end up a pretty organic experience. 4e is less table-enslaved than other versions, even more than BECMI.

The way to grok classes is to think of them as having 'martial arts styles'. So their at-wills represent their basic strikes, then they have escalating tricks they can pull out. Gone is the idea that Fighter A and Fighter B are -exactly the same-.

The spell lists (more accurately called power lists because they're no longer restricted to 'magical' classes) are potent but the rules baggage has been streamlined considerably. In fact, magic and physical attacks use the same system, roll d20, see if you hit the appropriate bonuses, and see what the effects of a hit or miss are. This changes the differences between the classes from which ruleset they use to operate, to what the effects of their powers are.

This streamlining has allowed for character classes that combine magic and swordplay to work on a level playing field with dedicated spellcasters. In previous editions this might be unbalanced, but in 4e balance is not about how you do the trick (power source, i.e., wizardly/arcane magic, divine/priestly magic, physical attacks) but what you do with it (character role).

Also, despite what you might hear, the game is a lot more open to player ideas. If the player wants to try some stupid (read: heroicawesome) stunt, there's a system in place to fire it off. Page 42 is 42 because it is the Answer.


Argh, fat fingers ate my post (pressed the wrong button).

Here is the very short version

- Power fluff is as per the rules completely optional. Change for great effect. One cool example is the guy (from these boards) who reflavored his warlock into a voodoo-doctor.

- modifiers mostly come in +/-2 or in +/-5 modifiers, all you got to do is remember what gives conditional modifiers.

- Use the stunt rules from p42 in the DMG. They work best with a good DM that can think on his feet and who uses terrain as part of the combats.



WotC's bitch
The best way to think of martial powers is as little prepackaged stunts. They also happen to give you an extra 1[w] or 2[w] awesomeness boost to damage.


The core mechanic of 3ed remains the same: d20 + modifiers vs. a target number (usually a Defense).

Pick up the Players Handbook 2--the classes tend to be a bit more interesting.

Most non-combat oriented spells are now Rituals, which take longer to cast (10+ minutes).

Understand Roles, especially in terms of party building. Strikers do the most damage, Defenders can take the most damage, Controllers can cause damage to the most opponents, and Leaders help allies cause more damage ;). That is highly-combat oriented over-simplification, but gives the gyst.

Understand Powers and Power Sources, which include Martial, Arcane, Divine, Primal, eventually Psionic, Ki, Shadow, and Elemental. All classes have powers, but just use different power sources. Think of PCs as mini-superheroes, with mini-superpowers of different types (e.g. Captain America is a Martial character; Professor X is Psionic; Wolverine is Primal).

Oh yeah, Clerics don't suck. All classes are remarkably interesting. Avengers (PHB2) are kewl.


First Post
If you don't have a copy of the rulebooks, either have someone else help you out with character creation, or use the character builder, which is free for levels 1-3.

Nothing has really stood out to me as all that complicated or hard to remember.


First Post
What one thing would you tell someone like me before they sit down to read the Player's handbook? Examples: What one expectation should I set aside?
To repeat/reinforce what someone else posted: This is not your Father's D&D. It is its own thing, leave the other editions at the door.

What's one cool thing to look out for?
IMO, forced movement (pushes, pulls, & slides) is a simple mechanic with big effects and a lot of win.

What's the AoO or THACO of this edition?
Someone else said Stealth, which was a bit underexplained in the PHB. But that's been more-or-less cleared up, just grab the PHB errata -- I mean "update" -- from the WOTC site.

I would say that the element that's been the most up-front confusing for new 4e players is Marking. Make sure you have some good, clear way to track who's marked by who, and that you know what that means.

More generally, I'd say it's good to have a way of tracking a few other conditions, too, so that you don't loose track of them. It's particularly nice to be able to look at the minis and know who's "bloodied."

What character class should I play and why?
There has been a good balancing of the classes in 4e, so that you don't have any one that stands out too obviously over the rest. It's less about making your character an army of one, as it is making the party a force to be reckoned with; teamwork is key. A good character class choice will depend on the rest of your group, but a supple mind can make any of the PHB classes fun to play.



First Post
What character class should I play and why?

It depends, as everyone else says, on what you like and what your job's going to be.

Given your name, you might want to give a halfling dagger rogue a try. Rogues get one of the best at-wills in the game, Piercing Strike, which is basically a Weapon v Reflex melee attack. That's huge, because most attacks that don't go against AC don't get a weapon's proficiency bonus to hit, and Reflex is usually a weaker stat for most monsters.

As an example, my bugbear rogue was regularly able to hit monsters on rolls below 5 with this, and do pretty substantial damage, since I was almost always attacking with combat advantage so I could use my sneak attack. It got to the point that I had to rearrange my encounter and daily powers to look for status modifiers to inflict that made them worth using.

If y'all're going to be using mostly release 1 stuff, halfling rogue's probably best fit for you. You can move around like nobody's business and not get hit nearly as often, so going into melee's easier. It doesn't feel so bad rolling d4s for its damage, and the daggermaster paragon path is really nice.

The one downside I found to rogue is that I seemed to always need more feats.



First Post
I strongly advise using the first half session or so to build your characters as a group. Make sure you have all of the roles (defender, leader, controler striker) covered, as an unbalanced party is way more dificult to handle for the players and DM. Remember that the fighter is not the Noob class anymore, it is as tacticaly as intrestig in its role as any other class. Mostly though this iteration of D&D is about teamwork, so think about the party and its strengths, because you cannot be a one man death machine with out help.

On a personal note, this edition is the most fun I have had as a DM or player in 20 years of gaming, so give it a try.


First Post
Some quick advice I'd give is to read the intro chapters, then once you are ready to go to races and such, read 1) the intro to the Classes chapter, and then 2) the combat section. Flip back and forth as needed until you get the gist. I think between those two sections, you should be able to understand most of the newer concepts in 4e. Once you get that down, reading the rest of the book (especially class descriptions and powers) will make a lot more sense.


First Post
Regarding AoO/THAC0:

The most annoying thing in the new edition, in my opinion, is keeping track of magic item dailies. Which isn't to say it's necessarily confusing or not... But I just find it a PITA.

It goes like this: Some magic items will have powers. The powers can be at-will, encounter or daily, just like any other power.

The catch is, if it's a daily, and only if it's a daily, special rules apply. Namely, you can only use one magic item daily power per day. At level 11, you can use two. At level 21, you can use 3.

And also, after every milestone (ostensibly, after every 2 encounters), you can use one more magic item daily that day.