D&D General How would you redo 4e?

Yeah, I'd think you want extensible swarm rules as well as minions (or maybe even instead of minions!) - that way you have fewer stat blocks to run as DM, and you can butter up the players by describing how the PCs are carving their way through hosts of foes.
 

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Yeah, I'd think you want extensible swarm rules as well as minions (or maybe even instead of minions!) - that way you have fewer stat blocks to run as DM, and you can butter up the players by describing how the PCs are carving their way through hosts of foes.
solo (maybe with a better name) elite basic minion and swarm of all seem like they could work.
 

I think they're kind of both, actually.

The good feats of 4e were one of its best bits. Feats were where most of the 3e-like, "Johnny-style" character building went. Chaining three highly specific feats together to achieve something unorthodox. Like, for instance, the hybrid Monk|Ranger MC Barbarian. Ranger hybrid gives you Twin Strike, which is obviously quite potent by itself. Monk (hybrid or otherwise) gives you Monk Unarmed Strike, which is very specifically a one-hand, off-hand weapon. Having the Barbarian MC feat (whichever one you fancy most) gives you access to Hurl Weapon, which makes any one-handed off-hand weapon count as a heavy thrown (range 5/10) weapon. Congratulations. You can now double rocket punch any single target within 25 feet for the price of two feats and a very unorthodox build. Or you can play a Half-Elf and stick with pure Monk, picking up Twin Strike via Dilettante.

That's the fun side though. The good feats that do interesting things.

Unfortunately, the poor feats stink, and I'd say about a third of all feats fit into that category. IMO, it's good that the ultra-awesome or "wait, that WORKS?" feats were uncommon, but the rest of them should've been at least solid, reasonable choices for a good slice of characters. That they weren't is one of the weaker parts of 4e.
I agree with all of that, totally. The other side of it is that the titanic list-o-feats, coupled with the fact that you kinda need to understand at least basic core feats that support your character build/concept really feels pretty burdensome to a lot of players. In this regard 5e's "just pick something at 3rd" approach to character build is pretty appealing! I think the hope was that Essentials would bring it to 4e. It sorta did...
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I agree with all of that, totally. The other side of it is that the titanic list-o-feats, coupled with the fact that you kinda need to understand at least basic core feats that support your character build/concept really feels pretty burdensome to a lot of players. In this regard 5e's "just pick something at 3rd" approach to character build is pretty appealing! I think the hope was that Essentials would bring it to 4e. It sorta did...
I mean, it's not like 5e is free of such things, the list is just shorter because there's less in 5e, purely in terms of fewer books (often shorter ones too, mechanically, since each book is meant to appeal to any possible buyer: player, DM, worldbuilder, etc.) The endless complaints about Lucky, PAM/SS/GWM, etc., show that there's still some of that going on. Every Sorcerer (especially Dragon Sorc, double especially Fire ones) should take Elemental Adept to deal with enemy resistances. "Just pick something at 3rd" is kind of a misnomer when it comes to 5e, because while it does apply for some things, for others it's much more complicated...especially spellcasters.

That said, you aren't wrong that there's a certain amount of...shall we say, not very interesting "baked in" feat expectations. Not truly expected, per se, but implicitly so. I think some of that is fine. 4e may have included too much, 3e definitely included too much. Something not so much halfway between 4e and 5e as...like two thirds of 4e, say? Enough mechanical richness to be engaging, but keeping in mind the need to avoid past excesses.
 

I mean, it's not like 5e is free of such things, the list is just shorter because there's less in 5e, purely in terms of fewer books (often shorter ones too, mechanically, since each book is meant to appeal to any possible buyer: player, DM, worldbuilder, etc.) The endless complaints about Lucky, PAM/SS/GWM, etc., show that there's still some of that going on. Every Sorcerer (especially Dragon Sorc, double especially Fire ones) should take Elemental Adept to deal with enemy resistances. "Just pick something at 3rd" is kind of a misnomer when it comes to 5e, because while it does apply for some things, for others it's much more complicated...especially spellcasters.

That said, you aren't wrong that there's a certain amount of...shall we say, not very interesting "baked in" feat expectations. Not truly expected, per se, but implicitly so. I think some of that is fine. 4e may have included too much, 3e definitely included too much. Something not so much halfway between 4e and 5e as...like two thirds of 4e, say? Enough mechanical richness to be engaging, but keeping in mind the need to avoid past excesses.
Right, so the eternal question is how much you simplify and make the building part of the game straightforward, and how much you elaborate it more and let people do lots of cool weird stuff. I would say, if you include things like MCing in 5e, you can do a LOT of pretty weird stuff! There's a thread floating around right now where a guy is complaining about some kind of ridiculously optimized 5e PC. Charops did NOT DIE with 4e. Although it seems a lot of GMs aren't interested in letting it flourish.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Right, so the eternal question is how much you simplify and make the building part of the game straightforward, and how much you elaborate it more and let people do lots of cool weird stuff. I would say, if you include things like MCing in 5e, you can do a LOT of pretty weird stuff! There's a thread floating around right now where a guy is complaining about some kind of ridiculously optimized 5e PC. Charops did NOT DIE with 4e. Although it seems a lot of GMs aren't interested in letting it flourish.
I do find that a lot of efforts to clone 4e quickly become efforts to genetically engineer 4e, and then become their whole own beast.

So, that's an important thing I would do if I were going to re-do 4e: not get into genetic engineering. Err on the side of faithful. There are MORE than enough attempts to fundamentally rewrite it out there. Trying to preserve it as much as possible would be practically unique at this point!
 

pemerton

Legend
4e has issues with feats. It has issues with AC - eg Barbarians get an ad hoc AC buff to reflect the fact they don't have INT or DEX as a core stat but are a light armour class; but then Primal Power has a DEX-based sub-class that makes the ad hoc AC buff unnecessary. There is power bloat, weapon bloat, etc.

But all of this is fixable, in the reality of play, either by ignoring and/or editing-on-the-run, or by obvious just-in-time fixes. (Eg just houserule to solve the barbarian AC problem).

There are, in my view, two deep structural problems with 4e D&D.

One is that the skills math and the combat maths are not the same. This gets worse as levels grow, and the gaps get bigger. It shows up in stat blocks for monsters and NPCs with weak skill bonuses; in the fact that using skills against defences is not mathematically smooth; etc.

The second is related: there is no smooth interface between the concrete elements of combat resolution (turn-by-turn resolution in a tight ingame time frame; plus tight tracking of physical location using squares-per-turn movement rates) and the abstraction of skill challenge resolution.

Fixing the former requires changing the maths, which in turn breaks compatibility. I don't have a good sense of what fixing the latter would look like.
 

Kariotis

Explorer
One is that the skills math and the combat maths are not the same. This gets worse as levels grow, and the gaps get bigger. It shows up in stat blocks for monsters and NPCs with weak skill bonuses; in the fact that using skills against defences is not mathematically smooth; etc.
Do skills get weaker with growing levels compared to combat powers?
 

4e has issues with feats. It has issues with AC - eg Barbarians get an ad hoc AC buff to reflect the fact they don't have INT or DEX as a core stat but are a light armour class; but then Primal Power has a DEX-based sub-class that makes the ad hoc AC buff unnecessary. There is power bloat, weapon bloat, etc.

But all of this is fixable, in the reality of play, either by ignoring and/or editing-on-the-run, or by obvious just-in-time fixes. (Eg just houserule to solve the barbarian AC problem).

There are, in my view, two deep structural problems with 4e D&D.

One is that the skills math and the combat maths are not the same. This gets worse as levels grow, and the gaps get bigger. It shows up in stat blocks for monsters and NPCs with weak skill bonuses; in the fact that using skills against defences is not mathematically smooth; etc.

The second is related: there is no smooth interface between the concrete elements of combat resolution (turn-by-turn resolution in a tight ingame time frame; plus tight tracking of physical location using squares-per-turn movement rates) and the abstraction of skill challenge resolution.

Fixing the former requires changing the maths, which in turn breaks compatibility. I don't have a good sense of what fixing the latter would look like.
Exactly: I've pointed out both of these issues in various forms and places in this thread, but you and I seem to be the only ones who see both of these issues. On the skill vs defense and DC front, HoML solves this entirely. All the same bonuses with the same values apply in both realms, and in fact at this point defenses are being designed out in favor of a mechanism where the player is able to select an appropriate 'action' to defend with. This can be a skill, a raw ability score, a power, etc. In fact my main rules focus right now is figuring out exactly what the full expression of the rules is which governs which of these are eligible responses to a given attack. Of course this works in reverse too, as skill checks are now perfectly valid 'attacks'. Overall this is a great improvement in the 4e 'engine', but not one you can achieve within the aegis of full 4e compatibility. I'd note that I've also eliminated the oddball 2 point difference between AC and NADS (well, at this point neither AC nor NADS formally exist anymore, but the game has no odd different classes of attacks that get different bonus amounts).

On the second issue: I don't fully know how to address this either. I expressed it in terms of the Athletics Jump ability. In combat this is a move action governed by precise rules which generate a distance covered. While these distances naturally grow to fairly fantastical values (high Epic PCs might jump 60' or more, far beyond the 29' outer limits of mundane human performance) they're still not really in keeping with everyone's view of the fantastic nature of almost-godlike level 30 characters (IE they can be actual demigods). Outside of the realm of combat it is quite easy to simply formulate the game in terms of narrative and what sort of fiction will fit with the desired tone, but its hard to see that as a very good approach IN combat.

One approach, inspired by my reading of the litrpg Age of Adepts where there is extreme scaling, would be to actually scale the tactical combat spaces. The natural approach there would be to do it by tier. So heroic tier combat uses 5' squares, but legendary (4e paragon) uses something bigger, like 25' squares, and Mythic (Epic) fights are staged on a correspondingly mightier scale still, like 100' or 300' squares. However this is not really addressing the underlying issue, just kind of attempting to converge the two paradigms a bit in terms of what they actually represent. I guess GMs could pick scale factors too, maybe even on the fly, depending on what they feel makes sense in a given situation. Tentatively my idea was to allow for any of the three scales to be used as appropriate, but you wouldn't generally put heroic action on an epic scale, for example. OTOH you might use heroic scale in an 'indoor' setting, even if the PCs are Epic.

I guess another approach would be to simply relax combat a bit in terms of stuff like that and just say "well, we will just set a DC to make that jump", though its still hard in that case to portray really gonzo epic action on the 5'/square 4e scale. This was, of course, already true though, and 4e Epic battles actually can be a bit tricky to stage in an appropriately impressive way.
 

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