D&D 4E Let's Talk About 4E On Its Own Terms [+]


Yeah, I played that season. It was pretty rough. A lot of fights involve shadows minions that, when they attack, they merge with your shadow and become a source of ongoing necrotic damage (2 I think it was), save ends. We lost our Blackguard in the first fight because they kept failing their save and there was nothing we could do about it.
Ooh sounds nasty. I might invest in that one if I get players...
ongoing necrotic damage (2 I think it was), save ends.
Oh! This is another thing I like about 4e: Save Ends effects. You no longer have to count rounds, effects are either still on or they’re not, and the universality of the system makes it very easy to buff or debuff, adding another interesting lever. I love that the Warden gets two saves a turn and a Leader can grant you a bonus or even a whole extra save. And the luck involve makes it very tense and you know an enemy with eventually save against your condition.
That was the season my Death Cleric became infamous for not healing the Rogue- rather than use Second Wind, they would drop, expect to get healed, and immediately drop again. "Dumathoin gives the the power to save someone from death twice only. I am saving his blessing for someone who desires to live."

I took a lot of flack for that, but the way I saw it, if they wanted more healing, they could always play a Cleric!
Nah, you were justified. The Rogue was too entitled and didn't play strategically enough.

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Zeromaru X

Arkhosian scholar and coffee lover
To me the big thing missing from Essentials was the Elementalist Sorcerer

Missing? But it is in the Heroes of the Elemental Chaos sourcebook. Unless you say that you wanted it in the Heroes of the Fallen Lands/Forgotten Kingdoms books.

feeling like a huge step back and turning your back on those who had embraced 4e

This (emphasis mine) was a big deal for me back them. But I feel it not with Essentials but with 5e, lol

For me, Essentials was an unnecessary step backwards with some interesting additions I welcomed into my table.

Anybody got suggestions for a good 4e Adventure? I might try to get a group together for me to DM but I really can't think of a campaign at the moment.

You'll never go wrong with Reavers of Harkenwold. You'll need an starting adventure, tho, as Reavers starts at lv. 2.

After Thunderspire, my DM said PoS was just that, a PoS ( :poop: ) and forked us into a Paizo AP - the Council of Thieves taking place in Cheliax (in Golarion). He made it work, but I'm sure with a lot of his own work...

When I was running that "adventure path", I skipped PoS entirely. I expanded Thunderspire with more stuff for the players to level up enough so we could play King of the Trollhaunt Warrens instead, lol

Missing? But it is in the Heroes of the Elemental Chaos sourcebook. Unless you say that you wanted it in the Heroes of the Fallen Lands/Forgotten Kingdoms books.
I did. From memory HoEC was the last major 4e splatbook (yes I know Dungeon Survival Guide was later). The "Core Essentials" didn't have the Elementalist and it was a while before it arrived so Essentials was for far too long "complex casters, simple warriors". But better late than never (and at 5e's pace it was early).

A full module would be fine but if you got a full campaign laying about I'd like to check it out too. I can modify fights to make them more exciting on my own.

Unfortunately, I think most of the official ones are just not great for 4e without some work. They almost all suffer from too many encounters in a row, leaving little room for plot development/other stuff.

EN World Zeitgeist is the only one that I know of that plays to all of 4e's strengths.

  • great use of Themes and paragon paths
  • lots of free roleplaying, investigating, traveling, etc. between large set piece encounters that move the story along and take you to different locations
-- big encounter maps that allow for 4e positioning and tactics
- very different goals at Heroic Tier vs, Epic Tier. This isn't just a heroic tier dungeon at Epic levels with different trappings

If you are willing to do more of a player directed campaign and design the fights yourself then I always thought Neverwinter Campaign book was pretty darn good, although never got to use it.

Not all: it doesn't have a place in it's setting for the dragonborn. Like, it was the most iconic 4e race and they are just a footnote in Zeitgeist's implied setting.

Fair enough. I meant the 4e rules system more than the whole edition. 4e lore is strong and is a strength of the edition but I wouldn't consider Dragonborn specifically a strength of the rules system per se. IMO, the strength of 4e system in terms of races is that you can create all kinds of races like Dragonborn and make them feel decently differentiated with a couple levers and they are all fairly balanced.

Dragonborn aren't key to Zeitgeist but you run into 2 Dragonborn siblings earlier on for a memorable encounter, and they are easily playable as coming from Ber.

You're right though Zeitgeist is not a great example of leveraging all the default 4e lore (by choice given the setting), but I don't think there are any problems with using most of the player facing content in some form.


I have neither read nor played Zeitgeist, so take what I say with a healthy dose of salt, but my wider 4E community has reported many, many balance issues with some of the setting-specific technology and so on. Also, contra what you say above, it's reportedly a linear railroad, despite any interstitial free RPing and other color. But that's necessarily true of any published Adventurer Path play.

There are others that can respond better, as I have not played anywhere near a full campaign.

I did not see any glaring balance issues although I can't say for sure there aren't any exploits.

I didn't say anything about a railroad or not. It is a railroad in the sense that all adventure paths are. There is some freedom in getting from beat A to beat B but you are going to hit beat A and B or something close to it most times. Or perhaps skip to C occasionally. That is what you are signing up for in an adventure path in my opinion unless you are just using it as a jumping off point.

I was speaking more to pacing of sessions. Zeitgeist mostly has large set piece combat encounters that are story relevant with other stuff in between.

So you would rarely have a session where you are doing 4-5+ combat encounters in a row which could be entire sessions or multiple sessions for some groups. Instead you have investigating, talking to people, etc. or at the very least moving from one location to another before the next combat adding variety.

So the combat encounters can be large map, cool set pieces that 4e does well without feeling like a slog because there is something else in between each one, and each one fulfils some plot role. Not 100% of course, but leagues better than others. And I think it using story based leveling as well so no filling out the level encounter/xp budget just for its own sake.

This kind of pacing really enhances my 4e experience anyhow. And not many published adventures do it. Perhaps because some people would think there is too little "content" if the combat encounter are reduced? Don't know.


Yeah, I'm not THE BEST on modules for 4e. Honestly, I ran pretty freeform PbtA-esque kind of games, although I did put together keystone combat encounters, but usually only if they were something that was definitely coming up in the next session and the parameters were already pretty clear. That is highly useful since it gives you a chance to put together some really fun environments.

Otherwise, if the party articulates a goal, SC. If they confront someone, or explore something maybe a combat.


I may be a bit late to the party, but I still thought I would like to add my thoughts on why I like D&D 4E:

1. It (still) feels like the most modern D&D implementation. Since it took inspiration from many other forms of games:

- The clear, precise and consistent wording was clearly taken from Magic the Gathering

- Teamplay was inspired by Football (soccer) thus the names of the 4 roles

- Layout for encounters are clever and on a single double page. Similar to what a lot of modern boardgames (after 4E) do. Like Stuffed Fable and similar games

- Lots of movement and forced movement and dangerous terrain fully embracing the grid like Final Fantasy Tactics and similar games

- Having the same class structure for all classes, to make it easier to learn other classes, like pretty much EVERY modern computer game like Mobas(league of legends), teambased shooters and others do (and later also RPGs like PbtA) as well as a lot of boardgames do.

- Having simplified statblocks with all attacks on them (no looking up spells) like boardgames do

- etc.

2. It improved A LOT over its initial run even though it was only 5 years. Yes not everything was perfect when it released, but wow did it improve and listen to the community ( bit too much even).

- Players did not like that monsters scaled over higher hit chances and defenses, so this was changed via new feats

- Since players felt there was a feat tax for the expertise feat, later expertise feats had a nice bonus for a weapon type

- Players did not like that monsters were now too weak (because of the feats) so Monster Math 3 fixed this problem

- Monsters in general were too defensive, so later monsters (MM3 and later) were in general more offensive designed

- In general monster design improved over time

- The game was released with no simple classes, later with the Essentials simpler classes were introduced-

- The first Essential book was (understandable) critized, and the later books did the simplified classes a lot better and had some really elegant designs.

- Similar (people who were not used to modern game design) did not like that all classes had the same layout and thought this makes them to similar, and from PHB3+and Essentials on several classes with different structures were released.

- The paladin and cleric were lacking cha powers, so the power source books made this better. Paladin also got more ways to protect allies, since he was lacking those

- The game was received as having "only combat", so LOTS of non combat/flavourfull parts were later released (Character Backgrounds, Character themes, Skill powers, martial rituals, more rituals, epic destinies with more non combat fluff, Essential classes with more non combat parts)

- In general lots of errata and fixes to make the game a smoother experience, because they cared so much about balance

- Skill challenges were in DMG 1 unclear and tooo hard (the way people played), so the math was changed and then the DMG2 made lots of examples and made them clearer on how to use.

- The first released adventures really sucked, while there were some gems among the later released adventures. (Greymore abby, Slaying stone, dungeon masters kit and others)

- Later rules were added for GMs/players who would prefer to play with phewer items.

3. It just has a lot of really good content. Of course there is also some filler stuff and some weak feats and powers, but it also has really a lot of great content and not only for classes but also for monsters, magic, traps, settings etc.

- It has 4 well made and quite varied (from each other) settings. (Nentir Vale, Forgotten Realms (Including a fleshed out Neverwinter), Eberon, Dark Sun).

- It has around 40 different classes with different powers. From simple to complex and with different flavours and power sources.

- It has around 40 races all with their own special ability (although feat support was uneven).

- It has 100+ themes

- 100+ epic destinies

- 100s of paragon paths

- Some really flavourfull books like Heroes of the Feywild

- An interesting adventure hub with Hammerfast

- A book with 30+ mini dungeons etc.

- 2 REALLY GOOD DMGs which are better than the 5E DMG even for 5E...

4. It has just really good and elegant math, and well working balance. Pathfinder 2E uses the base math system (just with a factor 2). This together with lots of other features (monster roles, traps/dangerous terrain with xp value etc.) makes it easy for GMs to build encounters:

- Monsters were balanced enough, that its enough to look at their level and their monster role to choose them, you dont have to double check if they are not too strong or weak for their CR

- A "normal" encounter is really easy to build. For ever level X player you add 1 level X normal monster. Done (So easy per player scaling)

- A hard fight would be just 25% more monster and a deadly fight 50% more

- Simple rules to replace monsters. 2 Normal monsters = 1 elite, 5 normal monster = 1 solo, 4 minions = 1 normal monster

- Really simple rules to use higher or lower level enemies: 2 Level X Monster = 1 Level X+4 monster. 3 Level X monster = 2 level X+2 monster. 5 Level X monster = 4 Level X+1 monster

- Traps and Dangerous terrain have XP and can just replace monsters with roughly the same xp value. Also simple rule (on Page 42) to build traps (damage per level etc.)

- Monsters have different roles, to easily know how they play. This makes it easy without much research to make different feeling encounters just by using different level adequate monster types.

- Really simple rules for non combat XP. (A long skill challenge is equal to a same level combat encounter. A normal group quest as well. 4 Personal quests as well)

5. There were just so many good ideas, which inspired many other games, and can still be used as inspiration!

- Skill challenges are still used and also inspired the Clocks of Forged in the Dark

- The hybrid class system is used in 13th age as its multi class system

- The normal "weak" multiclassing is used as the Archetype system in Patfhinder 2

- The base combat math and encounter building (with small tweek/ factor 2) is used in Pathfinder 2E

- The skill powers are used in Pathfinder 2 as skill feats

- The 5E background unique abilities, are quite similar to the later non combat powers of classes (especially the bard)

- The combat system inspired many modern games (and still does) like: Gloomhaven, 13th age, Strike!, Icon, Lancer, Gubat Banwa, Pathfinder 2, the new MCDM RPG etc.

- The epic destinies are great inspiration for endgame goals of players!

- The character themes are great inspirations for backgrounds. And include some really cool mechanics.

- The Essential Ranger and Sorcerer are great examples on how to make simple characters still interesting while being elegant. (I know many people did not like Essentials (most likely because of the first book), but the Scout Ranger is a really elegant "bring down to the essential" version of the multi attack ranger, with great nature flavour, the Hunter Ranger is an interesting archer ranger, which does more than just damage (namely providing support and controlling the battlefield, like Hawk Eye in the avenger movie) and the Elementalist Sorcerer shows that you can make a good simplified caster, something 5E and lots of other games never managed)

- The many unique solo monsters are good inspiration for boss fights, and even though also them did not work perfectly, they are still miles ahead of most other games solo encounters
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