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

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
As a wargamer, I really enjoyed 4e. The encounter design was great. We used terrain tiles and miniatures. Players had the power cards for their class. This thread makes me want to roll up a character and see what would happen in a solitary game (no GM).
If you do, please write up somewhere I can se it. I’m very curious.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Staffan

Legend
Overall that is why I think I agree with many that D&D 4 really benefits from bigger set piece combats and not much from a series of lower difficulty encounters. If you have a challenging fight 2-4 levels over party levels (at paragon or epic tier maybe more), because all this really starts to matter and work together to create a very interesting combat, even if takes time to play.
That is, I think, part of what sunk 4e. 4e likes Big Boss Battles. And it wants to turn everything into a Big Boss Battle, even relatively low-stakes fights. And that, combined with the hp inflation, means things can drag on quite a bit.

This is particularly true at lower levels, where you don't really have the resources. A single level 1 encounter power probably does like 10-15 points of damage on a hit, and a level 1 creature can take 25-30 points. So you basically need to use one encounter power plus maybe 2-3 more hits with at wills, so maybe a total of 5-7 rounds?

I think the saga of 4e would have been very different if PCs started out with two encounter powers, and/or monster hp had been scaled down by maybe 25%.
 

That is, I think, part of what sunk 4e. 4e likes Big Boss Battles. And it wants to turn everything into a Big Boss Battle, even relatively low-stakes fights. And that, combined with the hp inflation, means things can drag on quite a bit.

This is particularly true at lower levels, where you don't really have the resources. A single level 1 encounter power probably does like 10-15 points of damage on a hit, and a level 1 creature can take 25-30 points. So you basically need to use one encounter power plus maybe 2-3 more hits with at wills, so maybe a total of 5-7 rounds?

I think the saga of 4e would have been very different if PCs started out with two encounter powers, and/or monster hp had been scaled down by maybe 25%.
I am not sure if it was this thread or some other, but I read that the monster hit points were actually increased shortly before release and weren't really well tested or reasoned. Not sure if that would make out 25 % of the hit points or not, and I think the biggest change were made in the MM2 math for Elites and Solos.

But I think the bigger problem is that the low stakes fight even with less hit points just won't be that interesting, even if they end up shorter with less hit points. It can be fun occasionally dispatching enemies within 2-3 turns, but you don't want many of them, just enough to let the players show off.

The best approach I could come up with, is to make what would be several low stakes fights in another game into a bigger fight with waves of enemies, so in the end you still have the big fight - it's just not a boss battle.

In many dungeon adventures it seems there are monsters basically behind every other door in the dungeon. Just have the fight in one room alert the rest and have the monsters from other doors join the battle, so there is no time for short rests. That might require (IMO) a bit of different dungeon setup still, though, since it gets boring if they all come through the same door. You really want a dungeon where people can take multiple routes and entrance to the same location. The fight will overall still challenge some of resources of the player (so healing surges and maybe even dailies get used up), but it's also a show-off moment since they will feel domineering. (unless there are too many waves.)

I think such an approach however wasn't used in many adventures or mentioned in the DMG, which would have been a good addition, I think.
I think very important here is that there it's difficult to gauge the actual difficulty / encounter level for "monster waves".
20 enemies all at the same time is not the same as 20 enemies split in 3-5 enemy groups every other round, simply because there are a lot of turns where most enemies aren't threatening the party (it's action economy, basically).
 

Zeromaru X

Arkhosian scholar and coffee lover
I cannot say much about the mechanical side of things, as 4e was much my entry point to D&D. I may have played a bit of 3.5 and a single 2e adventure, but never read the rulebooks or became interested in said editions. However, having experienced at least a bit of 3.5 before, I can say that 4e was easier to grasp for new people (myself and my players). The rules are straightforward and the process of creating PCs and NPCs is simple (though, PCs can be time consuming, but that also is a problem in other editions, and 4e addressed that later with the digital tools)*. And I really prefer 4e over 5e, but that can be bias.

What I can talk about is from the side of the lore/fiction, and I really liked it. In earlier editions, unless you wanted to play in an established setting like the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk, there was no defined fiction. The implied setting was so vague that everything was up to the DM. And while this can be good for veteran DMs or people who like storytelling, it can be overwhelming for a new DM. Specially one like myself, who happens to like mythology, and found the mythology of D&D way too bland and vague, even if you tried to import FR or GH stuff into your homebrew. And on the other side of things, Planescape was too convoluted and yet vague at the same time.

The Nentir Vale was simple and at the same time so complex... If you wanted just the Nentir Vale for either build your homebrew or import it to an established setting, it was easy to do, with not that much lore getting in the way. But if you wanted to play in the implied world were the Nentir Vale is supposed to be, there is so much lore scattered in the splat books to build a compelling world not unlike Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms, yet the information is open-ended, so you can connect the dots whatever way you like, and you can import anything from another setting without needing to twist the lore too much to do it. You want Waterdeep in the coast near the Nentir Vale, and to the north of the region of Tyr from Dark Sun? Is easy to do without having to write a convoluted reason to explain why Waterdeep and Athas can coexist.

And the mythology! Is so complex and yet so simple, that you can leave it as vague and simple as the relate in the DMG, or as complex as the full relate from all the sourcebooks - and still, with different versions to accommodate the fact that the world is made up of different cultures with different viewpoints, opening the room for your own version as well. The gods are a small group that covers everything you need from a pantheon, and yet the pantheon can be expanded without breaking the lore (like what Critical Role did by adding a few new gods here and there). And the interconnectivity between mythology and the lore of the world...!

I could write an essay about this, lol

*Yeah, me and my group played pen and paper 4e for a time, lol. I even remember my brother making some personalized character sheets for each player in the group with Photoshop.
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
The Nentir Vale was simple and at the same time so complex... If you wanted just the Nentir Vale for either build your homebrew or import it to an established setting, it was easy to do, with not that much lore getting in the way. But if you wanted to play in the implied world were the Nentir Vale is supposed to be, there is so much lore scattered in the splat books to build a compelling world not unlike Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms, yet the information is open-ended, so you can connect the dots whatever way you like, and you can import anything from another setting without needing to twist the lore too much to do it. You want Waterdeep in the coast near the Nentir Vale, and to the north of the region of Tyr from Dark Sun? Is easy to do without having to write a convoluted reason to explain why Waterdeep and Athas can coexist.

And the mythology! Is so complex and yet so simple, that you can leave as vague as the relate in the DMG, or as complex as the full relate from all the sourcebooks - and still, with different versions to accommodate the fact that the world is made up of different cultures with different viewpoints, opening the room for your own version as well. The gods are a small group that covers everything you need from a pantheon, and yet the pantheon can be expanded without breaking the lore (like what Critical Role did by adding a few new gods here and there). And the interconnectivity between mythology and the lore of the world...!

I could write an essay about this, lol
Absolutely this! 100%! 200%!
 

That is, I think, part of what sunk 4e. 4e likes Big Boss Battles. And it wants to turn everything into a Big Boss Battle, even relatively low-stakes fights. And that, combined with the hp inflation, means things can drag on quite a bit.

This is particularly true at lower levels, where you don't really have the resources. A single level 1 encounter power probably does like 10-15 points of damage on a hit, and a level 1 creature can take 25-30 points. So you basically need to use one encounter power plus maybe 2-3 more hits with at wills, so maybe a total of 5-7 rounds?

I think the saga of 4e would have been very different if PCs started out with two encounter powers, and/or monster hp had been scaled down by maybe 25%.

This is definitely true. And it's actually a pretty common fantasy norm too. Even in Mirkwood and Moria it's not like there were constant back to back fights and monsters in every room, fighting every day, etc.

4e should have leaned more into only plot relevant big set pieces with lots of story, roleplay, exploration, etc. in between. No really low stakes fights. The only adventures to do that I've seen are 3rd party Zeitgeist.

Now you can also throw in some dungeony/keep type locations as long as you spread out the Encounter budget across the rooms with the expectation that inhabitants converge. With minions this is pretty easy to do and still get that "the keep is full" feeling. Just take like 2-3 encounters worth of xp and spread it out over the location. WoTC wasn't doing this though. They had like 8-10+ back to back full encounters to slog through. So you're spending like 30-50 hours of real time in the same location. 4e would have ditched some of the 'glorified wargame' stuff if they had leaned into more stuff in between as well.

Also the HP / dmg balance could have been tweaked a little but I didn't find that the biggest problem.
 
Last edited:

Nentir Vale is an excellent setting for a hex-crawl, and the core DMG leans into that, with suggestions on various places that the DM can put a dungeon. The place’s backstory is ready-made for a D&D game: a land that was once inhabited by a great empire, but was abandoned because of war. Now, there are numerous mansions and castles and temples and such that sit empty (except for monsters), filled with the treasures accumulated while the empire was still present. There are also mysterious areas that predate the empire that can be explored.

It has mountains, forests, plains, rivers, lakes, and a large swamp. The only thing it lacks is a desert.

The “Dungeon” and “Dragon” magazines are stuffed with extra game play goodness. An especial favorite of mine is the article with tables for creating an inn.
 


Moon_Goddess

Have I really been on this site for over 20 years!
4e is my favorite edition of D&D, I ran so so much 4e, it's hands down the easiest version of D&D to DM for, actually the easiest of any game I've run period.

The combats are fun, the AEDU keeps interesting things for everyone to do every fight, I love that classes have a defined combat role, I love that the whole power source thing make me think of interesting ideas, the moment the Avenger was released I realized I wanted to run an all Divine Power source game, difference classes, all divine power off the same god, special forces team for a god.

The biggest thing I've ever found bad to say about 4e is that it ruined D&D for me, I can't play any other edition now.
 


Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top