D&D 4E Rambling thoughts about D&D 4th Edition

cavalier973

Adventurer
Did you know that the print copies of the 4e rule books don’t have the price for oil? The core PHB says that a lantern produces light for eight hours for each pint of oil, but oil isn’t included in the equipment list. The pdf of the core PHB has it, now, but the printed book didn’t. The only printed book that I own that lists the price of oil is the “Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms”.

Oil is 1 silver piece for a pint.

I just finished listening to Season 1 of “Acquisitions, Inc.”—for the twelfth or thirteenth time. It was the one truly genius marketing decision by WoTC in promoting 4e, in my opinion. Jerry, Mike, and Scott are highly entertaining to listen to, and the rules are explained throughout the course of play. Mike had never before played D&D, and asked a lot of questions that a noobie would (I imagine) have about the game. Chris Perkins is the DM for the first part of the game, and James Wyatt takes over for the last three or so episodes. They are playing “Keep on the Shadowfell”. One of the smart moves that Mr. Perkins made was to start the party in the dungeon. He hand waves the various fights with the kobolds, and starts them at the entrance to the keep.
The party struggles, partly because the players rarely roll well, partly because there are only three of them, and the DMs didn’t scale down the encounters, apparently. What is interesting, though, is that the three pre-made characters for KotS that the players picked were suboptimal. Had they picked the Dragonborn Paladin and the Halfling rogue they might have been more successful. The podcast might not have been as interesting, though.

The thing is, Jerry’s half-elf cleric was suboptimal all around. In the “RPG starter kit”, there is the same roster of characters as in KotS, except that the cleric is human and the wizard is Eladrin. The human cleric has an 18 WIS compared to Jerry’s half-elf cleric, who had a 16 WIS. It only amounts to a one-point difference in attack rolls, but sometimes one point can turn a miss into a hit. Even a 4e core cleric with an 18 WIS is inferior to a 4e cleric with a 14 WIS and an 18 STR, because the strong cleric gets to add a weapon proficiency bonus to attack rolls. One of the things that should have been added, in my opinion, is a proficiency bonus for non-magical implements—holy symbols, wands, etc.—to give the devoted cleric and the warlock and wizard the ability to hit as well with their powers as those classes that use weapons.

Anyway, the other players give Jerry a lot of grief for rolling badly, but his character is a challenging one to play, because of how it was built. With a STR of 13, plus the weapon prof bonus of 2 (for a mace), the half-elf cleric only got a +3 to attack bonuses when using a weapon.

Similarly, Scott’s dwarf fighter had a 16 STR, and used a maul. The character got a +1 bonus to attack rolls when using two-handed weapons, plus the ability score (+3) and weapon prof (+2) for a total attack bonus of +6. If Scott had picked the Dragonborn paladin, he would have had a character with an 18 STR (+4) and using a long sword (+3) for an attack bonus of +7. Had he picked the halfling rogue, he would have had a character with 18 DEX (+4), a dagger (+3 weapon prof, but also a +1 bonus for the “rogue weapon talent” class feature) for a total attack bonus of 8!

I wish I had a printed copy of Keep on the Shadowfell. Oh, look! There’s one on Amazon for $36! There is also one available for $126.

The DMG is one of my favorite D&D books of any edition. Did you ever notice how the opening artwork shows the reverse view of the artwork in the front of the PHB? The DCs in the 1st DMG were too high, the DMG 2 were too low, but the Essentials DMB/RC were just right.

PHB2 was a travesty. Seriously, what were the publishers thinking? I heard complaints about how Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms reprinted a lot of the same information as Heroes of the Fallen Lands, but how would you like to buy the HotFK only to find out that you also needed to buy HotFL in order to build your character? Of, course I bought two, maybe three, copies of HotFL, but I digress. PHB2 does not have info about how to determine ability scores or even info on mundane equipment. You have to have PHB1 for that.

They should have introduced Mystara into the 4e campaign worlds. A gonzo rule set for a gonzo campaign setting.

My thumbs are tired.
 

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BigZebra

Adventurer
Ha ha nice commentary 😌
I personally don’t mind that PHB2 doesn’t have all the character creation stuff. I actually prefer it not too. But I also have all three.

I absolutely love my 4e books. The readability and most of the art are some of my favorites.
I also absolutely love the practicality of the modules compared to 5e’s novel structure.
Anyway 4e is amazing.

By the way are you referring to the Dungeon Delve podcast? I have also listened to the Acq Inc podcast from that feed. And they are ok. But the ones with audience are horrible I find. The group cares more about making annoying jokes too make the audience laugh. I have no idea how Perkins can be so patient.
 

Staffan

Legend
One of the things that should have been added, in my opinion, is a proficiency bonus for non-magical implements—holy symbols, wands, etc.—to give the devoted cleric and the warlock and wizard the ability to hit as well with their powers as those classes that use weapons.
Most of the time, attacks using implements go against defenses (Fortitude, Reflex, Will) while attacks using weapons go against AC. AC is generally a few points higher than defenses, which is then balanced by getting a proficiency bonus to the attack.

That's one of the reasons the rogue stands out somewhat in the core book, as they can get an at-will exploit that uses a weapon to target Reflex.
 

cavalier973

Adventurer
Ha ha nice commentary 😌
I personally don’t mind that PHB2 doesn’t have all the character creation stuff. I actually prefer it not too. But I also have all three.

I absolutely love my 4e books. The readability and most of the art are some of my favorites.
I also absolutely love the practicality of the modules compared to 5e’s novel structure.
Anyway 4e is amazing.

By the way are you referring to the Dungeon Delve podcast? I have also listened to the Acq Inc podcast from that feed. And they are ok. But the ones with audience are horrible I find. The group cares more about making annoying jokes too make the audience laugh. I have no idea how Perkins can be so patient.
I don’t know what it’s called nowadays. I do a search on YouTube for “Acquisitions, Inc.” and click on the one that has “all the seasons”, or something like that. There are 70 something videos in the playlist.

Season one episode one starts out with Scott Kurtz (the creator of the PvP comic) saying, “I’ll be the tank, although I’ve never played a fighter before.”

The first seasons are my favorites. Season 2 has Wil Wheaton join as Aelfel Alhromoni (sp?) the Eladrin Avenger.

“Avenger” was a class in Mentzer “Basic”; sort of a Chaos Paladin.

It would be interesting to see the original characters turned into “Basic” versions of their classes.
 

cavalier973

Adventurer
Most of the time, attacks using implements go against defenses (Fortitude, Reflex, Will) while attacks using weapons go against AC. AC is generally a few points higher than defenses, which is then balanced by getting a proficiency bonus to the attack.

That's one of the reasons the rogue stands out somewhat in the core book, as they can get an at-will exploit that uses a weapon to target Reflex.
Ah; that makes sense. The players in the AcqInc podcast discuss which defense seems to be easiest to hit while they are fighting monsters.

May I say that I find the “four defenses” model to be an elegant way to handle attacks?
 

cavalier973

Adventurer
Ironically, Tieflings make better fey warlocks than infernal warlocks, if one is using the standard array, since the Tiefs get a bonus to CHA and not to CON. Half-elves would make a good warlock whatever the pact. With a half-elf, using the “bought” ability score method, one could have an 18 in both CON and CHA, which means that half-elves can be superb Starlocks, since the Star pact switches back and forth between CON to CHA each level for attack rolls.

EDIT: a dwarf would make a good infernal pact warlock.

Anyway, if one is playing a half-elf warlock, then choosing the paladin’s “Bolstering Strike” as the dilettante power is preferred. Once per encounter, the warlock can make a melee attack using CHA + weapon prof bonus. If the warlock has a positive WIS modifier, temp hit points are also gained.

A star lock would make a good undead hunter.
 
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Staffan

Legend
Ah; that makes sense. The players in the AcqInc podcast discuss which defense seems to be easiest to hit while they are fighting monsters.

May I say that I find the “four defenses” model to be an elegant way to handle attacks?
Defenses in 4e mostly replaced saving throws – instead of a wizard's fireball just happening, and then everyone in it has to roll a save to mitigate the damage, the caster rolls an attack against each target's defense. That's also why a "miss" often deals half damage, particularly with AOE powers. The overt effect is to make it so the active character is in charge of all the rolling, but a more subtle effect is to put martial and magic abilities on more equal footing. For example, a bless in 3e and 5e is mostly useful for martial characters, because they're the ones making attack rolls. A 3e/5e wizard doesn't much care about a bless (other than the marginally useful bonus to saves vs fear), because the wizard almost never makes an attack roll. A 4e wizard on the other hand makes lots and lots of attack rolls, so they love attack roll bonuses. As to whether that's a good or a bad thing, that's a matter of taste. Some would argue that it's good to keep all abilities on an equal footing, but others would argue that the option to use save abilities when dealing with attack penalties is an important bit of nuance that gets lost.

There is also a mechanic in 4e named "saving throw", but it's a duration mechanic. Many debuffs (particularly ongoing damage) say "save ends". For example, a fire ray that dealt both initial damage and set someone on fire would say something like "3d6 fire damage plus 5 ongoing fire (save ends)". That meant that at the end of every round, you'd get to roll a d20 for every such effect, and on a 10+ it would end.
 

cavalier973

Adventurer
Moron…er…more on warlocks:

None of the core warlock builds use any melees powers (that I remember). For a player that wants to mix it up with the front line players, one would need to create a hex blade.

I have posted elsewhere that, if one wanted to mimic B/X—BECMI classes, an Eladrin hex blade would serve as the “Basic” elf.

Using core rules, the best I can manage is to have an Eladrin paladin with the warlock (fey) multiclass feat.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I have posted elsewhere that, if one wanted to mimic B/X—BECMI classes, an Eladrin hex blade would serve as the “Basic” elf.

Using core rules, the best I can manage is to have an Eladrin paladin with the warlock (fey) multiclass feat.
IIRC you could go half elf Fighter, and take a wizard at-will as your racial encounter power. Then take multiclass feats.

The closest to "real" multiclassing, though, was hybrid characters from PH3.
 

Moron…er…more on warlocks:

None of the core warlock builds use any melees powers (that I remember). For a player that wants to mix it up with the front line players, one would need to create a hex blade.
Not actually true. There was a warlock At Will, Eldritch Strike, that you could take in place of Eldritch Blast and counted as a melee basic attack. (It did 1[W] damage with a slide of 1). I don't think there were any other melee weapon attacks - but staff wielding warlocks were common.

More importantly there were a lot of close AoE attacks which you could use in melee. SOP for a feylock in a party with a fighter as encounter powers was for the Fighter to use Come And Get It right in the middle of the enemy to get themselves surrounded. Then on their turn the Feylock would use Fey Switch to switch their place with the fighter. And then use a power I can't remember the name of to make an icy teleport out of there, doing cold damage to all the enemies who had been around them and immobilise most of them. And then with the enemies frozen to the ground in the wake of the warlock's escape they were all nice and set up for the wizard to drop a scorching burst on all of them at once.
 

cavalier973

Adventurer
Not actually true. There was a warlock At Will, Eldritch Strike, that you could take in place of Eldritch Blast and counted as a melee basic attack. (It did 1[W] damage with a slide of 1). I don't think there were any other melee weapon attacks - but staff wielding warlocks were common.

More importantly there were a lot of close AoE attacks which you could use in melee. SOP for a feylock in a party with a fighter as encounter powers was for the Fighter to use Come And Get It right in the middle of the enemy to get themselves surrounded. Then on their turn the Feylock would use Fey Switch to switch their place with the fighter. And then use a power I can't remember the name of to make an icy teleport out of there, doing cold damage to all the enemies who had been around them and immobilise most of them. And then with the enemies frozen to the ground in the wake of the warlock's escape they were all nice and set up for the wizard to drop a scorching burst on all of them at once.
Brilliant!
 


cavalier973

Adventurer
In the last chamber—the one where the party faces off against Kalarel—there is a lot of blood flowing from the chamber directly above. In that above room, there is a lot of blood flowing from a dais on the east side of the room. The blood, it says, comes from sacrifices, but there is no mention of the bodies of those sacrificed, that I can see. There should be many large piles of bodies, based on the amount of blood.

So…earlier in the adventure, the party should be hearing farmers complaining that livestock is missing, hunters are having to travel further afield because game is getting scarce. Maybe introduce some characters that mysteriously disappear over the course of several days.

Perhaps, instead of the goblin iron tooth cajoling a kobold tribe into serving him, the kobolds and the goblins are in a sort of war, with the goblins kidnapping kobolds to give to Kalarel for sacrifices. The kobolds maybe think the villagers are responsible—they’ve been peaceful until recently, but now they want revenge, and for the kidnappings to stop.
 


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