D&D General How would you redo 4e?

Red Castle

Adventurer
Regarding 4e and that some thinks the lack of flavor text and descriptions discourage roleplay, I personally disagree. But that might be because I always created my own homebrew world and never used a premade module.

For me, what always draw me to roleplaying games is the way it encourage creativity, rule systems that allows me to live what I imagine, create my own story with some friends around the table. There is some RPG that will be about exploring a particular world (like for example Star Wars, Legend of the Five Rings or Trudvang) where the lore is important to really feel the world, and there is others where it lets the storyteller come up with his own lore. For me, DnD (especially 4e) as always been more like the latter, a ruleset and toolbox that allow me to create a story in a medieval fantasy world. I as the DM decide the geography, the politics, the history, the lore of the world I create for my campaign, for the story I want to tell. And for that purpose, I personally love the less is more approach of 4e: give me some guideline about the creatures and powers, but let me put the meat around it, adapt them to my world, my vision. Don't restrict me by telling me how a creature should behave and how they live their lives, let me come up with those informations and then let my players find out how it is my world by experiencing it, instead of just looking in a monster manual and suddenly knowing everything about them. And even better, when the situation allows it, let the player come up with information, let him create it, it will invest them even more in your campaign world. A player thinks the description of a power is lacking? Let him come up with what happens, don't limit yourself to what a book tells you, make it your own. Want your fireball to be a green fire, why not? Do you think it should materialize at the middle of the zone and then expend, or is it shot from your staff and then explode? For game purpose, the only important thing is the effect, the rest is flavor and you as a DM or a player can easily, and are encourage, to make your own.

When I look through the 4e Monster Manuals, I love that it let me enough space to adapt the creatures to my vision. Bullywugs have maybe 3-4 paragraph of text and info, and yet has been a good part of two of my campaigns. Same for the Kruthik. The information given is just enough to build a base, but then I do what I want with them.

But regardless of your approach, I don't think either is better or worst for roleplaying. Roleplaying is more up to the players around the table than the game played, it doesn't need a lot of rules, just some basics. It's more about interacting together,with the world, that having a lot of rules. And my personal opinion regarding social rules is that, again, less is more. Having too many rules during a social encounter can get clunky and break the flow and immersion.
 

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Throw them all out, start with a cap of 120 individual feats.
Go!
That's essentially what Essentials did. The feat list there is really quite solid and VERY short. I think ultimately there's a bit of a middle ground, you could have 300 feats or something like that, just so you can have a few racial support feats for each race, a few MC feats, as well as cool stuff that lets you customize your class a bit.

Feats were never NEEDED in 4e though to the same extent as in either 3e or 5e. I mean, 5e calls them optional, but you really do NEED some at some point. With 4e you needed them, but only because everyone else ALSO had them, so it was a 'keep up with the Jones' kind of thing. If they'd not existed at all, it wouldn't have really mattered (aside from you'd need a way to get more proficiencies, but that's easy to figure out).
 

Undrave

Legend
Crafting, Profession (Appraise included), or Perform skills.
I always felt like appraisal (and architecture) should have been explicitly rolled into Dungeoneering (or even Streetwise when it comes to resell value) and acting should have been specifically be folded into Deception. We did have a ritual to craft magic item AND a feat to craft alchemical recipe later down the line.
According to my sources, there were 3,271 feats in 4e. Of them, only 154 refer to multiclassing at all, and 16 of those refer to Paragon multiclassing. While you could get some savings from condensing things down a bit (e.g., compacting every <class> multiclass feat into "choose one of the following benefits" style), you could not reduce it down to one single uber-multiclass feat for all classes, because the precise benefits given by different MC feats are...well, different. That single feat would end up taking pages and pages of text, it would be utterly ridiculous.
I loved the Mc feats! they gave you a unique water downed version of a class feature. My Cleric took the Paladin one to get a Divine Challenge once per encounter. I think there should have been multiple MC feats per class so you could invest more of your resources into it, with only the first one gate keeping the rest. I could see a MC Paladin feat that gives your another use of Divine Challenge and one that gives you some Lay on Hands charges. And I think those feat should be enough to qualify you for the Paragon Path of that other class.

1. Area/Range is in squares (a combat abstract) instead of feet (a real world thing)
Ya know, next time I'm DM-ing, the 'Square' will be an actual in-world unit of measurement mostly used for indoor room plans. 1 Square will be equal to 25 Tiles, with the Tile being originally a legal standard for slate flooring tiles in a Capital city that was known for those and wanted to protect its citizens from being swindled by undersized tiles. Inspectors would go around the various shops with a model and make sure the tiles were within an appropriate margin or the merchant would lose their sale licence.

Not unlike how rooms in Japan can be measured in units of tatami mats.
2. No individual material component.
Who cares?
3. No spell school.
Spell schools are stupid. Magic Schools and traditions should be setting specific.
Sure, but there aren't any other examples that do better, MC feats are the most so-called "bloated" category you could lump together by "theme." What else is there, Proficiencies? Expertise? Sure, you can get some progress. But even if you drop 100 feats from each of these categories, you aren't going to remove more than like 500 feats in total. It's a dent, but it's not going to do anything near the kind of culling that you'd need to make the kind of reduction you're going for.
I was thinking that Skill Powers could be accessed through a feat. Everytime you take one you add a different Skill Power to your repertoire, from a list of options.

I think every Feat should have an active component. They either let you do something new, or offer an enhancement to something you're already doing. No feats that just grant an always on bonus. Except maybe proficiency feats for armor (weapon prof would count as 'improvement to something you're doing')
Also? Fireball--and most other Wizard powers--did get a spell school. It wasn't there to begin with, but it was added in later (Rules Compendium and other Essentials books, IIRC.) So they even changed that in the actual game itself! Some (generally Wizard-linked) PPs also got spell schools.
I hated that. So transparently pandering to grognards.
And for that purpose, I personally love the less is more approach of 4e: give me some guideline about the creatures and powers, but let me put the meat around it, adapt them to my world, my vision.
I think 4e's philosophy to lore is best exemplified by it's default pseudo-setting: Points of Light. You don't get a complete view of anything and it is your job to fill in the dark parts!

Once you understand that, everything else just falls into place.
 


Red Castle

Adventurer
I think 4e's philosophy to lore is best exemplified by it's default pseudo-setting: Points of Light. You don't get a complete view of anything and it is your job to fill in the dark parts!

Once you understand that, everything else just falls into place.
For me I think it’s the part in the DMG2 about Cooperative World Building where there is an exemple of a group of player coming into a Deep Gnome society and the DM let the player inquiring about their culture decide how their society is run.

Having an open lore easily allow this kind of roleplay.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
1. Merge Race and Background and Theme into one thing. Your Heritage or whatever.

This grants abilities over the first 10 levels of your character progression.

2. Reduce feat count. 1 relatively free customization option every 2 levels is too much, and it leads to an optimization problem by late game.

3. Presumed competence. If you are a level 12 fighter, you are presumed competent at fighting. Your attack bonus is +6, and not tied to your character's strength or whatever. The side effect is that we no longer need to keep nearly as close control over attribute bonuses.

Magic weapons also don't add to accuracy. Probably do the same thing to defences.

I'd revive the "saving throw" where you use an attribute check to defend against an effect. So a Strength Saving Throw defends against a Fortitude attack. But they are going to be reactions, and not automatic; your Reflex is your defence, your Dexterity Saving Throw is you doing something extra. These are going to be limited use powers.

As an example:
Evasion: You gain an at-will Dexterity Saving Throw against Reflex attacks that deal half damage on a miss. If the saving throw fails, you only take half damage; and if it succeeds, you take no damage.

(This is a major class feature).

Or a per-encounter Shield Block Strength Saving Throw that requires a shield power.

These saving throws normalize the "react to enemy attacks" stuff in 4e into a single mechanic.

4. Deal with the multi-tap problem. 4e has a problem with a bunch of static bonuses added to low damage dice attacks that you do repeatedly ends up out damaging high damage dice attacks by a large margin. I think the easiest is to add a bunch of "once per turn per target" to static damage bonuses, but maybe another method could work.

5. Repace the game so that an even-level foe at all levels drops in about 3 attacks, or as low as 1.5 if you are a striker (a striker crit should one-shot a non-elite foe at all levels of the game).

6. Make power sources matter more. Give them mechanical heft and impact. As an example:

  • Martial Exploits all either start a stance, or let you end a stance for a bonus.
  • Arcane Spells, if cast over 2 turns, have more than twice the power level.
  • Divine Prayers have an effect that goes off at the top of initiative on the next round. (The power comes from outside of you, you just call it down), often in addition to an immediate effect. Your god has an infinitely high initiative roll.
  • Primal Powers all use blood points. There are baseline ways to get blood points, such as becoming bloodied or bloodying a foe.
  • Psionic Disciplines have keywords, and 3 keyword phrases name an effect. Use a power with keyword Geo, Na on turn 2, then do Foo to get a bonus Geo Na Foo effect on turn 3.

7. Don't punt with class features. Controllers need class features that make them better controllers.
 
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heretic888

Explorer
For me I think it’s the part in the DMG2 about Cooperative World Building where there is an exemple of a group of player coming into a Deep Gnome society and the DM let the player inquiring about their culture decide how their society is run.

Having an open lore easily allow this kind of roleplay.
4E did "Draw Maps But Leave Blank Spaces" and "Ask Them Questions Then Build Upon the Answers" before it was cool. 😏
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
What I've learned from this thread is that a decent number of people seem to hate spell schools. It's odd to me since, other than 4e, spell schools have always been tied into multiple crunchy bits of the rules.
 

Undrave

Legend
1. Merge Race and Background and Theme into one thing. Your Heritage or whatever.
I've been mulling over a pre-adventurer origin builder for a little while.

First you start with your Ancestry, basically the species of your parents. Each specie would have features split into two types: Major features and Minor Features. To create an hybrid you'd just ask your DM to swap Minor Features with another specie.

Then would come what I call your 'Hometown'. Basically what kind of environment you grew up in. Maybe it's the desert, the coastline, an arctic/sub-arctic region, mountains, etc.

Then would be the culture you come from. Maybe your mountain hometown ruled by war chief with a militaristic bent and everybody had to learn how to wield a weapon, maybe was your desert town ruled by a theocratic order that made sure everybody knew the tenant of their religion, or maybe your port town was full of merchant who thought you how to haggle with the bests, that's up to you.

Finally, you got a profession, what you did before you heard the call of adventure.

Each of those steps would provide some skill training, some stats buff, or some passive abilities (coastline people know how to swim, for exemple).

I haven't put any of that to paper yet but I think it could be interesting.
 

Add two zeros the the end of that and we've got a deal.
I can't imagine why you would need to specifically detail 1200 feats, let alone 12,000.

No dice. Even if we reduce the total number of classes to 20, that's 6 feats per class, with no feats left over for generic use.
Interesting- I wasn't thinking per class with that number, but rather per role.

To be more specific, the issues I had was one of referencing. It's had to find what you're looking for with thousands of entries over multiple books.
 

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