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4E In Defense of 4E - a New Campaign Perspective

A quick check of the AD&D Monster Manual shows the shadow and spectre (as well as wraith) having a chilling touch, described as supernatural cold. I never said that an incorporeal creature couldn't supernaturally affect a corporeal one; I just said that all HP damage is described in a manner that's consistent with physical injury. Chilling touch makes sense as dealing cold damage, at least as much as Cone of Cold does.
I have to imagine it's similar logic to a sneak attack; failing the save means you're allowing the 10% of non-illusory energy to hit you in the worst possible way. Honestly, though, if you accept psychic damage as being physical damage to the body (albeit caused by the mind), then we may not be so far apart on this than I had originally thought. Most people seem to pitch psychic damage as an entirely non-physical phenomenon, with no signs on the body whatsoever.
I won't argue about the design issues inherent with non-damaging spells. I'm a big fan of Pathfinder's decision to make Turn Undead into a positive energy wave damage effect, for example.

Well, I still think that Gygax was perfectly justified in, and he certainly hit common usage squarely, when he described hit points as a combination of things and implied that 'hit' and 'miss' are simply conventions, not literal rigid narrative. It isn't all that easy to come up with ANY really consistent single interpretation of D&D rules, and I don't think it is worth doing, really. Saying you can only play with people who imagine it a certain way definitely strikes me as quite rigid, and odd for play of a game of pure imagination.

So, in the end, IMHO all 4e did was be more consistent about utilizing hit points as 'measure of defeat' rather than being all over the map in terms of what they're doing in any given situation. That is greatly helped by a consistent set of mechanics. Much easier to construct an interesting narrative with this sort of wiggle room, IMHO.
 

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thanson02

Explorer
I think the main thing to keep in mind with 4e is it is REALLY geared towards being a kind of action/adventure game with the PCs playing fairly straightforward, though potentially quite varied and even unique, protagonists. It rewards things like high action dynamic scenarios which mix fighting with story goals and such things. So for instance:

Once I ran a scenario, as part of a larger story arc, where the PCs discovered that the big bad guy had captured some of their NPC friends and was down at the lumber mill. So the PC rode the log flume down into the mill, leapt inside and confronted the BBEG, complete with damsel about to be sliced in half by the saw, etc. This was a terrific and awesome scenario, with all sorts of thrills, a lot of skill checks, things moving around all over the place, ropes, piles of lumber, etc. etc. etc. This particular one didn't include an SC, per se, but it isn't hard to integrate that too if it is needed. The key was that the scenario was much more than just 'kill the bad guys in room 3'. 4e is no good for that later type of thing, which is why a lot of the adventures that were published in earlier 4e were basically long slogs. Later ones did get better, but it really isn't a game where trivial filler encounters work well.

4e wants to engage plot with a vengeance, and it is pretty good at it! Much better than classic D&D where either the party lacks real caster power, and thus is very limited in what it can do, or is pretty much shaped and dominated in a plot and planning sense by what those specific characters capabilities are. It is a much less easy game to work in story with than 4e, IME.

100% agree. I use the term "cinimatic" to discribe what you said, but we are on the same page.

Btw, awesome senareo! That sounds like it was a ton of fun. :D
 

tomBitonti

Explorer
Shadows cause damage supernaturally, with inverted similarity to a paladin laying on hands.

A Marshall bolstering a companion doesn’t have the same feel. Purely psychological effects have been modeled as fear, or as bonuses to checks, but not as adding or removing hit points — until 4E. I don’t find this new model to be inconsistent with a Gygaxian description of hit points, but I agree that until 4E no one followed the Gygaxian description to its clear conclusion.

But then, oughtn’t “berate” be a possible attack that does hit point damage? And, oughtn’t anyone be able to perform a bolster action (albeit with a much lower chance of success?)

An additional problem is the loss of certain attributes that 3E folks were accustomed to, with very jarring results. As a 3E veteran, I’m used to thinking of certain creature types as being mindless, which makes the immune to mind affecting abilities. That level of detail was dropped from 4E. Not wanting to drop the older model, I’m left with a contradictory result.

A problem, I’m thinking, is that 4E went too far in allowing effects to be reskinned, with keywords not having any fixed interpretation. Putting Fire as a keyword had no interpretive meaning, other than purely syntactic interactions provided by the rules. I very much prefer keywords being an interpretive guide!

Thx!
TomB
 

MwaO

Explorer
A problem, I’m thinking, is that 4E went too far in allowing effects to be reskinned, with keywords not having any fixed interpretation. Putting Fire as a keyword had no interpretive meaning, other than purely syntactic interactions provided by the rules. I very much prefer keywords being an interpretive guide!

They both do and they don't:
Mechanically, fire is fire. Pretty much in every edition.
Interpretatively, in every edition, the DM decided what they wanted fire to do.

4e's only real difference here is that 4e suggests that the DM talk to the players and tell them the kind of campaign they want to run and to get table agreement on it. And some DMs interpreted that as meaning the DMG was trying to take away the DM's power, when it was really saying, "Hey, we realize, some D&D players can get really passive-aggressive. Why don't we get everything understood so no one decides to blow up the campaign because they've been secretly pissed off for the past two months?"

Player: "Well, I really had my heart set on a Cleric, but this is Dark Sun? Thought divine PCs weren't allowed..."
DM: "Nope, divine PCs are fine, but have to tune to various elemental spirits rather than deities."
Player: "Oh, ok, that's great!"

vs

Player(sullenly muttering unintelligibly under breath about 'Stupid Dark Sun'): "Here's my Bard. No one minds if I sing out of tune?"
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The bloodied condition and abilities keying off it was something I really liked about 4e to the point where in thinking if introducing it in my 5e games.

its kind of pervasive I wanted even more of it in 4e... more classes or subclasses making use of it.

More rules to enable desperation moves based on it perhaps to accelerate a necessary battle when people are running out of powers (and I didnt include good environmental things to exploit oops)
 


thanson02

Explorer
They both do and they don't:
Mechanically, fire is fire. Pretty much in every edition.
Interpretatively, in every edition, the DM decided what they wanted fire to do.

4e's only real difference here is that 4e suggests that the DM talk to the players and tell them the kind of campaign they want to run and to get table agreement on it. And some DMs interpreted that as meaning the DMG was trying to take away the DM's power, when it was really saying, "Hey, we realize, some D&D players can get really passive-aggressive. Why don't we get everything understood so no one decides to blow up the campaign because they've been secretly pissed off for the past two months?"

Player: "Well, I really had my heart set on a Cleric, but this is Dark Sun? Thought divine PCs weren't allowed..."
DM: "Nope, divine PCs are fine, but have to tune to various elemental spirits rather than deities."
Player: "Oh, ok, that's great!"

vs

Player(sullenly muttering unintelligibly under breath about 'Stupid Dark Sun'): "Here's my Bard. No one minds if I sing out of tune?"
And thus the beauty of a modular gaming system.
 

tomBitonti

Explorer
Bards do? Mocking Words.

First Aid Grant Second Wind?

Which fits. Although, Mocking Words is in PHB II, and seems to have generated some controversy. And, it has a keyword psychic, which would seem to make it at least partially magical. Is the keyword necessary?

Thx!
TomB
 

MwaO

Explorer
Which fits. Although, Mocking Words is in PHB II, and seems to have generated some controversy. And, it has a keyword psychic, which would seem to make it at least partially magical. Is the keyword necessary?

Damage that doesn't have a keyword is untyped. Which would be weirder. And Bards are arcane casters in 4e.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Which fits. Although, Mocking Words is in PHB II, and seems to have generated some controversy. And, it has a keyword psychic, which would seem to make it at least partially magical. Is the keyword necessary?

Thx!
TomB

Martial effects can have key words many have fear for instance. (though the bard was initially entirely arcane they introduced the skald and really its always been a very mixed class)

There has also discussion that the Intimidate combat use (which for its most intense incapacitating effects requires a bloodied enemy) could in general have been replaced by something like that with a fear key word.

Reduced to zero hit points is an open ended fully incapacitated condition in many ways (just as that intimidate can cause many effects)

I have generally looked at skills and thought all needed a worthwhile combat use. Diplomacy to trigger a second wind without an action from the subject or just a minimal hitpoint recovery... might work as sensibly as the the first aid skill.

Arguably one might go further.
 

Player: "Well, I really had my heart set on a Cleric..."
… said no D&D player, ever. ;)

OK, maybe not none, ever, but, relatively few, and even fewer who have ever been frustrated in that ambition, since the traditional Cleric was the perfect fusion of utter necessity (only source of CLW @1st level, old-school undead encounters assumed Turning and were overwhelming without it) and complete lack of appeal (mace-wielding, pseudo-Christian, Van Helsing?).

...

And, Source was a keyword, so you couldn't(shouldn't?) really re-skin it.

A point of Dark Sun was no Gods, and you could excise the Divine Source from 4e without the devastating repercussions of traditional D&D sans the all-important Cleric. Ardents & Warlords could admirably fill the leader role for any Dark Sun party. No need of Clerics (or Shamans or Veiled Society Bards or Defiler Artificers, though that last might be interesting, very Mad Max...)

That was one of the real strengths of Source/Role, if a setting didn't call for a given Source, you could still have functional parties (the exception, of course, being Martial-only, which lacked Controller coverage - though Controller was arguably the most dispensable role).
 
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Saelorn

Hero
Well, I still think that Gygax was perfectly justified in, and he certainly hit common usage squarely, when he described hit points as a combination of things and implied that 'hit' and 'miss' are simply conventions, not literal rigid narrative. It isn't all that easy to come up with ANY really consistent single interpretation of D&D rules, and I don't think it is worth doing, really.
I still don't see any examples in old D&D of luck or fatigue being represented through the HP mechanics, rather than through other sorts of mechanics. Magical luck is consistently represented as a bonus to attacks or saving throws (or re-rolls, in an extreme case), in spite of any assurance that luck is a component of your HP.

And of the things that can deal HP damage, they're consistently in the category of things that can cause physical damage to the body. They may have not intended it, but they were quite thorough about it when it came to execution. If that was a coincidence, then it was a highly unlikely one.
Saying you can only play with people who imagine it a certain way definitely strikes me as quite rigid, and odd for play of a game of pure imagination.
If it was a game of pure imagination, sure, but it's never been purely that. It's always included some elements of statistical modeling. Every number in the game has some sort of meaning, and when it comes to that sort of thing, it's important that everyone is on the same page about what's going on.
So, in the end, IMHO all 4e did was be more consistent about utilizing hit points as 'measure of defeat' rather than being all over the map in terms of what they're doing in any given situation.
Sure, 4E was much more consistent in being vague and non-committal about anything.
 

MwaO

Explorer
A point of Dark Sun was no Gods, and you could excise the Divine Source from 4e without the devastating repercussions of traditional D&D sans the all-important Cleric. Ardents & Warlords could admirably fill the leader role for any Dark Sun party. No need of Clerics (or Shamans or Veiled Society Bards or Defiler Artificers, though that last might be interesting, very Mad Max...) That was one of the real strengths of Source/Role, if a setting didn't call for a given Source, you could still have functional parties (the exception, of course, being Martial-only, which lacked Controller coverage).

That you could do something and that it should be perfectly acceptable doesn't mean people wouldn't object to it anyway. Every time there's Dark Sun being brought up, I almost always hear someone complaining they can't play a Divine PC. Then they pick something else anyway.

But more referring to the concept that the DM says "X is how it is!" and instead of explaining it or getting buy-in, there ends up being a fight in the group because someone didn't quite get it.
 

thanson02

Explorer
Oh no you now wont get to read as much that ones arrogant self serving lies and ignorant expletive of your choice

Interestingly people quote them anyway so we are not immune

What a shame. ;)

Not that it mattered. I am still seeing his messages, so apparently it only blocks his ability to see my post? Oh, well......... :p
 

thanson02

Explorer
As a 3E veteran, I’m used to thinking of certain creature types as being mindless, which makes the immune to mind affecting abilities. That level of detail was dropped from 4E. Not wanting to drop the older model, I’m left with a contradictory result.

A problem, I’m thinking, is that 4E went too far in allowing effects to be reskinned, with keywords not having any fixed interpretation. Putting Fire as a keyword had no interpretive meaning, other than purely syntactic interactions provided by the rules. I very much prefer keywords being an interpretive guide!

And that is a fair criticism given the situation, and given the desire to stick with the older model that makes sense.

For me, the re-skinning and the expansion of diversity with monsters (I think there are over 5,000 in 4E) made the monsters seem more real and less gamey. If you have a bunch of goblins for example, you are going to have one as the leader (even if he is just the one that is more clever then the rest), perhaps a few brutes, and a bunch of cannon fodder. To me, that just made sense. The idea that you needed a bugbear or a hobgoblin to do this (which seemed to come up in the games I remember from 3E) just made the monsters seem too two-dimensional for me and effected emersion in gameplay as well as my suspension of disbelief. If you look at real groups and social interactions, even among animals, there is defiantly a social structure there. Each animal will have variations within the species and the stronger or more intelligent members of the group will rise above the others. Hard to do that when mechanically they are all the same. That would be like someone saying that mechanically, I (6' 3") would have the same stats as one of my co-workers (5' 5" and weighs half as much as I do) because we both are human and work the same job. That doesn't make sense for us, so why would that apply for monsters too? And don't get me wrong, there are still mindless creatures in 4E, it is just different then earlier editions. And I am not saying that is better or worse, just different.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
And, Source was a keyword, so you couldn't(shouldn't?) really re-skin it. .

Can be done fairly well usually as source is more meta flavor AND its really the powers you reflavor I turned a hybrid divine character (both divine) into a blood manipulating vampire
 

Can be done fairly well usually as source is more meta flavor AND its really the powers you reflavor I turned a hybrid divine character (both divine) into a blood manipulating vampire
Considering some of the Vampire myths - the whole sleeping in Hell through the day thing - I could see that still being Divine source, yeah.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Considering some of the Vampire myths - the whole sleeping in Hell through the day thing - I could see that still being Divine source, yeah.
Nyah the original might have been a night druid though... this one was a blood Wright manipulating both blood and leaking her vampiric needs to the party
 

. Every time there's Dark Sun being brought up, I almost always hear someone complaining they can't play a Divine PC. Then they pick something else anyway.
Nerds will be Nerds, I guess. ;) Really, i see that contrary impulse in myself pretty clearly, and all too often...
 

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