4E Mouseferatu weighs in on 4e

Sitara

Visitor
Cam Banks said:
I'm actually more interested in hearing about which WotC/TSR settings won't work as well, or will require extensive modification, for 4e. I already suspect they've had to overhaul a ton of things for the Realms, as Rich Baker's blogs have been suggesting. Is 4e simply not a good fit for some worlds? Is it better for some than others?

Cheers,
Cam
I'm sure you are primarily concenred about dragonlance, and IMO the answer is obvious. Dragonlance was one of the settings that was more tied to dnd mechanics than perhaps any other. The orginal chroncles books actually had raistlin stating he needed to 'memorize spells' and that when he cast them he would 'forget' them and have to re-memorize them.

When you factor in sorcerors, which were brought in to tie to dnd3E sorcerors, and many other things i am pretty sure dragonlance with need a MASSIVE overhaul, retcon or (I really hope so) a complete and total REBOOT back to the war of the lance period. IMO a reboot would really give me hope and bring me back.

OTOH some 4e elements will fit dragonlance quite well, elves for instance: Wood Elves = Silvanesti/Kagonesti; Eladrin = Qualinessti etc. But the future looksgood for DL; its mentioned in the Worlds and Monsters book, and the setting has been brought back home to WOTC.
 

Warbringer

Visitor
Mouseferatu said:
And I'm not asking anyone to buy it on my word alone.
Tough, as I buy your products sight unseen, your opinion of the game just got WoTC at least the purchase of 3 core books... Seriously :)
 

Jack99

Community Supporter
DaveMage said:
The only question I have is does a combat encounter take longer or shorter in 4E, or is it about the same as 3E?

Thanks.
Will add myself the the rapidly growing list of people that would love to hear more about this, if at all possible.

Oh, and if you give 4th edition a 8,5-9.0 on a scale to 1-10, I would be curious to know if there is a gaming system out there, that you would rate higher, or similar. And how much would you give 3.5?

Cheers,
 
Wolfspider said:
Mechanics have never been something that has excited me before. I'm more interested in playing a character with a rich personality and background and exciting goals and role-playing opportunities.

Why should I now get hot and bothered about the mechanics of a character?
Why are you here, talking about roleplaying games at all then? For you, system doesn't matter. You could have as good a game of Lords of Creation or Powers & Perils as you could D&D 3e or 4e. And if that's the case you don't care about specific roleplaying games, you don't care about new editions, they're irrelevant.
 

Gundark

Explorer
Thanks for the info and answering people's questions.

I also would like to know about the speed of combat.

4e is suppost to be faster to prep for, obviously without saying too much what is your thoughts on that?

A related question, it may be that I'll have to convert my favourite 3rd party setting to 4e. How easy have you found it to develop for?
 

Kesh

Visitor
Mouseferatu said:
I've always been a huge fan of gnolls. I like to think of 4E as the edition that finally caught up with me in realizing how cool they are. ;)
Woohoo!

… no, I'm not biased. Why do you ask? ;)
 

Mouseferatu

Visitor
Wow. This thread sort of exploded overnight, didn't it? :eek:

Guys, I'd love to address your mechanical questions. I really would. I'm just not allowed to.

I'll try to answer some of the more general questions, as best I can without delving into mechanics.

Combat Length:

So far, I've mostly experienced two types of combat in this campaign.

Type 1: The players get lucky, and/or the DM misjudged something, and it's over in two rounds. (This doesn't happen often, especially as we get to know the rules better, but it still occurs on occasion. We opened one fight two weeks ago with the party rolling three or four crits in the first round alone.)

Type 2: The combat is long-running, but also takes many rounds to conclude.

What I have not see much of (with one exception, detailed below) is the "combat takes forever in real time but only actually lasted 3 rounds of game time" scenario.

(That one exception is the fact that a few of my players are of the "casual" variety, and still haven't learned their characters' powers. So there's still some "book-flipping" slow down. But so far, that's been the exception rather than the rule.)

I can't say that the experience will work like this for everyone, or all the time, or in every group. But it's mostly been the case for us so far.

Here, let's put it this way. In 3E combat, because it took so long but often only took a few rounds, I was always bound and determined to do something vital in every round. Yet one of the reasons I'm enjoying 4E combat is because, when I choose to, I can afford to take a round or two to really position myself for a solid strike to come--and it doesn't feel like "wasted rounds" to me.

Levels:

So far, most of my actual playtesting experience is with the heroic tier. We decided to start at 1 and just go for as long as we were enjoying the campaign.

Mechanics and prior editions:

Here's where we get into pure matter of opinion. I believe there are three possible ways to handle "secondary" rules in an RPG.

1) Don't provide them at all, and let the DM handwave everything. Basic D&D did this to some extent.

2) Try to include specific rules for everything under the sun. 3E tried to do this. Some people like the result, but others--myself included--felt that the result was a cumbersome clutter that kept getting heavier as time goes by.

3) Include a solid core, with a baseline system easily extrapolated to fit situations that aren't spelled out. This is my preferred option.

So far--and I stress so far, I'm not making any promises--4E seems to have managed option number 3. I have a hard time thinking of any actions or skills that couldn't be pretty easily extrapolated from the existing mechanics.

In our very first 4E combat--a bar brawl, of course ;)--two thugs stood atop a table and menaced another PC. I decided to run across the room, slide under the table, and kick it over; since they were both standing on the far end, I figured it was a viable tactic, leverage-wise. The DM took all of 2 seconds to decide how the rules would best accommodate that, and we went on.

Noncombat Abilities:

See above, with the extrapolating. It may not satisfy everyone, but I haven't felt their loss one iota, and I'm one of the bigger role-players of my group.

(In fact, I have a theory that including non-combat skills like "craft" and "profession" in the game actually discourages role-playing, but it's both personal opinion and not 4E-specific, so this thread isn't the place for it.)

Previews:

I'd say that the previews you've seen are accurate as far as they go, but even the seemingly detailed ones are incomplete and out of context.

Interesting Combat:

It has not been my experience that having monsters with fewer abilities has led to less interesting combats. The combats themselves are both more fluid and easier for the DM to run, leading him to make more interesting use of what abilities they do have. More to the point (for those asking about the pit fiend), remember that he's not meant to be a solo encounter. So even if he individually has fewer abilities to throw at the party, the DM's "team" as a whole is going to have as many, if not more, as they had in 3E.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
Thanks, Ari! I have been a 4e fanboy from the moment I started hearing about it, but this helps me feel even better about being on board.

And kudos to WotC for letting you air your opinion. I trust the designers, but having such a positive 3rd party opinion is really good PR for WotC.
 
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jonrog1

Visitor
Derren said:
Sorry if that sounds offensive, it is not intended this way (but I seem to attract flamewars whenever I talk about 4e).


I am a bit disappointed about this information because it basically just repeats what the designers said. "Combat is simple, combat is cool". I know that by now.
If anything, it just further increases my fear that 4E will focus only on combat and remove
any non combat information about monsters. And judging from the Pit Fiend discussions I am not alone with this fear.
Sadly this blog entry seems to further confirm that in 4E monsters will only be XP containers with combat stats. If you want them to use to something besides combat it requires houseruling (=preparation).

I just hope that Combats in the real game are really exiting, because the 4E Pit Fiend doesn't look exiting at all (one trick pony. Protect yourself against fire and this guy is harmless. And just 3 possible actions? It will get boring very fast as the players will always know what to expect).
Well, this quote got me to chime in here, as I just got my go ahead to talk a little about playtesting. And since there's no way I can profit from my blurbage, there should be no lingering doubts about whether it's because I'm looking for a future gig. Although anyone who even suspects that of Ari should be ashamed of themselves.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm John Rogers. I write the Blue Beetle comic book for DC, wrote and produced the pilot for a TV version of Warren Ellis' Global Frequency, and I occasionally write movies. I'm not a game designer, but primarily a writer in multiple formats. I only mention this because some of you have been looking for feedback from a non-designer, and so you can evaluate my opinions in the context of how I use the game.

4E is the edition that promotes storytelling to primacy in the gameplay.

It does so by streamlining the rules -- by giving you cleaner, more relevant information for the situations when you actually need information. My first thought when I read the ruels was "Hmm, somebody at WOTC got a hold of The Paradox of Choice ." There are multiple levels of choice in playing the game and building the characters, but now there only mechanics for those choices for when they are mechanically relevant.

Don't think "simple." Think "clean."

I think the reason there's so much buzz around 4E combat is because that's where the most massive fun-change has come in, and so it naturally dominates discussion and perception. By the time my NDA playtest group got through our first session, we'd (unintentionally) fought three massive combats in one four hour session, many multiple opponents each time. When we finished we all kind of sat back, glassy-eyed, and went "wow." Except for the rogue. He was punching the air and cackling "More stabby! MORE STABBY!"

Because 3E combat had gotten so ... er .. gunky, combat's the first thing you notice when playing 4E. It's hard not to talk about it. A bit like if you bought a new car and got it up to 250 mph. The fact that it has a great interior, amazing safety features and a kick-butt stereo never really comes up in your first conversations about the car.

There are mechanics in place in the rules, separate from the combat rules, to fill in the non-combat tools of a PC/NPC/monster. Stat blocks are there for when they're needed -- when you need to look at stats. In a block. Fast. Like, during combat. Not only that, as the DM I felt I had all the info I needed for the bits I needed help with (combat) but the freedom not to be bound by unnecessary information when we were roleplaying. That's what prompted me to post -- the above gentleman's concern that "If you want [monsters] to use to something besides combat it requires houseruling (=preparation)." What is that "something" besides basic combat? Roleplaying, right? What in that stat block actively contradicts any roleplaying, and more so, what more in the stat block do you need to use it in a story? Each monster (as I understand it) will come with well-nigh a full page of flavor text in the MM. That should be the base for the non-combat-y bits, while the stat block is the wrench you use for the combat-y bits.


That's why, as a writer, the edition tickles me pink. No more rummaging about for the appropriate monster with the appropriate trained skills and appropriate background to fit my plot -- or adjusting the fiddly stats of cool monsters to wedge them into my PC's level and story setting. No more building NPC's for hours so they not only do what I want them to do, they also have every fiddly bit necessary to work but that I'll never, ever access in-game. Enough detail to guide, never so much to cripple.

As far as simple/boring combat -- that Pit Fiend? He's elite, so there's going to be two of them, summoning in multiple other high level monsters with their own funky abilities, all set in a matrix against the multiple combat powers and spells of your five own high-level NPC's. While some people seem disappointed by the lack of options in this situation and somehow see MORE prep here, the prospect of running that combat on its own in 3E would make me, as a DM, throw up in my mouth. With 4E, I'd have no problem running it. And that's why a streamlined mechanic system is important for storytelling, because it's easier to throw a wide variety of stuff at my players, and easier to play out the results of said throwage. Whenever I have more choices in storytelling, for me, that's always a good thing.

In short, my playtest experience for what it's worth:

Less prep time for the DM, with no loss of versatility in combat, and plenty of added value and unexpected strategies. Monster design is superior for what I need, which is versatility in the service of storytelling. Trap design in particular made me want to kiss Dave Noonan on the mouth. While roleplaying, we had more freedom, because when you actually need a roll in the roleplaying you're working off a cleaner system, rather than page-hunting for one of the independently designed subsystems.

Take it as you will.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
jonrog1 said:
In short, my playtest experience for what it's worth:

Less prep time for the DM, with no loss of versatility in combat, and plenty of added value and unexpected strategies. Monster design is superior for what I need, which is versatility in the service of storytelling. Trap design in particular made me want to kiss Dave Noonan on the mouth. While roleplaying, we had more freedom, because when you actually need a roll in the roleplaying you're working off a cleaner system, rather than page-hunting for one of the independently designed subsystems.

Take it as you will.
Nice! Thanks for posting, John!
 

A'koss

Explorer
Indeed. Thanks for chiming in John. :)

I think the reason there's so much buzz around 4E combat is because that's where the most massive fun-change has come in, and so it naturally dominates discussion and perception. By the time my NDA playtest group got through our first session, we'd (unintentionally) fought three massive combats in one four hour session, many multiple opponents each time. When we finished we all kind of sat back, glassy-eyed, and went "wow." Except for the rogue. He was punching the air and cackling "More stabby! MORE STABBY!"
:lol:
 
This all just makes me wish it were June even more. I am not sure how much either of you could say about it but I am dying to know more about the Warlord. Is anyone playing one in your groups? Does it seem to work in the style of a skilled tactician/general/inspiring leader? Do they give bonuses to themselves and others or just others? I could never find a class that fit the background story of one of my characters and so I have high hopes that the Warlord will finally be a fit.
 

Klaus

Visitor
jonrog1 said:
For those of you who don't know me, I'm John Rogers. I write the Blue Beetle comic book for DC <snip>
... and a DAMN fine comic that is! I just had to say it, John, as a longtime Ted Kord fan, your series won me over to Jaime Reyes!

"Escarabajo... VAMONOS!"
 

jonrog1

Visitor
Klaus said:
... and a DAMN fine comic that is! I just had to say it, John, as a longtime Ted Kord fan, your series won me over to Jaime Reyes!

"Escarabajo... VAMONOS!"
Thanks! Love your art, by the way.
 
jonrog1 said:
the prospect of running that combat on its own in 3E would make me, as a DM, throw up in my mouth.

Trap design in particular made me want to kiss Dave Noonan on the mouth.
What's with the mouth fixation?

Kidding, kidding. It was a great post and really interesting to see another playtester's perspective.
 

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