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D&D 4E The Best Thing from 4E

What are your favorite 4E elements?


  • Total voters
    225

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
What is your single favorite 4E element? Okay, you may choose up to three.

At will powers
Encounter/Daily power mechanic
Lots of tactical combat effects
Consistent math
Healing Surges
Division of classes: Controller, Defender, Leader, Striker
Simplified Monsters
Four AC's: AC, Fort, Ref, Will
Dying/Death Saves
Skill Challenges
Simplified alignments
Paragon Paths
Other "I can't believe you forgot X"
Acquisitions Incorporated
 

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jhingelshod

Explorer
"Consistent math"

...do you mean that it was consistently off whack? MM3 monster stat revisions. Feat taxes to meet expected to-hit numbers. Item taxes (iron armbands etc) to maintain expected character damage. Reduction of magic items from a treasured bonus to a necessity and the belated introduction of IB's in an attempt to avoid this.

I'm far from being a 4E hater. I loved it when it came out and still do, but with the benefit of hindsight (and the advent of 5E) there is so much, particularly in the maths (yeah it's 'maths', colonials ), that could have been done better.

I'm toying at the moment with introducing ideas into 4E such as giving both monsters and characters a flat to hit and damage modifier of 1/2 level (or even 1/3 level for a more bounded accuracy) + ability mod; making magic items scale from +1 in heroic to +3 at epic and limiting their availability.

I'm sticking with 4E because I love the AEDU mechanic, the general balance between classes (got sick of playing whack-a-mole with fighters), and the defender/striker/controller/leader set-up.....that's 3? Job's a good 'un.
 

A

amerigoV

Guest
Gnomes as monster to slay was the best. Too bad they ruined it by putting them in the PHB2.
 

keterys

First Post
4E had the most consistent math of all the D&Ds. Whether that's damning with faint praise or not is probably in the eye of the beholder.

It has its issues, alas, but its combat was the best D&D minigame yet. If only I could think of a way to double the rounds, take only 3/4 of the time even in spite of that, and drop half of the tracking/fiddly things... _then_ figure out a way to get people to actually play with those changes in large numbers.
 

Narrowing it down to 3 is extraordinarily difficult, especially considering the fact that so much of the component parts work together to create the full experience. Consequently, losing a component part here or there (or morphing it) neuters or negatively affects the experience as a whole.

However, of your list, I chose:

Skill Challenges - Unified noncombat conflict resolution and the dramatic tropes/challenges that they produced (when run properly by a skilled GM and enthusiastic players).

Consistent Math - Encounter budgets producing precisely the outcome that I (the GM) am expecting is non-negotiable for me anymore in a game with a D&D-centered combat engine (eg high stakes, turn based combat, action economy, etc). The math making improv and running the game on the fly (low/no prep) an absolute cinch.

Profoundly deep, cinematic tactical combat - The rampant forced movement, the interaction with the terrain/battlefield, the dynamic mobility, the rally, knowing when to use triggered-effects, the awesome and fun synergy of team PC and team monster. Just spectacular.

Again, there is so much that goes into each of those 3 and there is so much more beyond that. p42, Healing Surges and how they interact with everything else, the way Themes/Paragon Paths/Epic Destinies thematically guide play through the tiers and how the Quest system interacts with that, the Companion character system, the broad skill system (providing deep base competency and emboldening heroic, thematic play), the alternate advancement system...and much more.

If I have to pick 3 though, I'll go with the above 3.
 

Balesir

Adventurer
Sorry for voting for more than three - I voted before reading the thread to avoid inhertied bias...

One I would keep on a 'list of 3', though, was the "other". The things I most rate about 4E are the maths and powers (for all classes), but not really for "consistency". My main love is the explicitness. The designers were explicit about the maths so that player groups can use it and morph it if they must to create the game they want. Power effects are explicit so that the game does not become an enforced "beauty contest" where, if the GM likes* your idea it will succeed (albeit you might need to make a roll), but if they dislike* your idea it will likely fail ("well, you need an athletics check to catch up to where the giant is, followed by acrobatics to jump on his back and a STR and a DEX check to stay on. Then roll your attack - but you get a -4 modifier because he's thrashing about").

The other "other" is the standard mechanisms that can be adapted to so much. The disease track. The skill challenge mechanisms. Hirelings, companion characters and so on.

Some of the execution was a bit "off" - I am in the process of revamping the multiclass (by feat) system, and then I plan on banning Hybrids and using the multiclassing to build a 4E Birthright mechanism around. It's tough to hammer out the wrinkles, but so much is possible within the framework given.

*: By "like" and "dislike", I mean to include all the various reasons generally given. Beliefs about how the world works (it "makes sense" for it to be like this...) and borrowed tropes from favourite films are especially included.
 

I dislike almost everything on the list, with varying degrees of intensity.

One thing I did really like about 4E was the multi-classing system. It's something that would be impossible to implement if you didn't have that whole power structure, but it created feats that really felt like what a feat should be - interesting choices that change how you approach things, rather than just a math fix - and it allowed you to play a character whose second class could contribute in a meaningful way.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Action Points. Specifically, the way they were implemented in 4e, where an AP gave you an extra action.

Gnomes as monster to slay was the best. Too bad they ruined it by putting them in the PHB2.

One I would keep on a 'list of 3', though, was the "other". The things I most rate about 4E are the maths and powers (for all classes), but not really for "consistency". My main love is the explicitness.

The other "other" is the standard mechanisms that can be adapted to so much. The disease track. The skill challenge mechanisms. Hirelings, companion characters and so on.
Wow. A whole lot of "other" here. Poll fail! :p
 

D'karr

Adventurer
Picking 3 is going to be very difficult as so many of the good things don't exist separate from the others.

Non-mechanically, my number one best thing, above all else, is that it is a pleasure to DM and a cinch to prepare. Of course that is non-mechanical in form, but the reason for it was all the cleaned up mechanics. Prep time went from being a chore to being a delight with 4e. I got to spend time actually devising the interesting things for the sessions rather than working out a way to effectively challenge the characters.

My second non-mechanical best thing is that my wife, a non-gamer, was actually able to play the game with very little assistance, and actually enjoyed it. We had tried before to get her in our games and she simply gave up after trying to make it work.

Mechanically I'd say that the best thing from 4e was completely decoupling hit point recovery from spell-casting. Just that innovation was enough to really break open the wall. This introduced options for self recovery. Expansion for recovery to all kinds of classes from martial, to psionic, to arcane, plus the classic divine classes. As well as a pacing mechanic that can be further stretched in multiple ways. The designers should have gone further and shown ways to have long term recovery and even injuries tied to other existing mechanics (disease track) but they didn't. Their loss on that, but since the system is so transparent including those options is rather trivial.

The second one in my book is transparent mechanics, which ties directly to consistent maths. Somebody mentioned the "fixes" to mechanics that were added to the game at certain points. IME those are additional fixes but the game does not need them, as long as the long term fix is implemented, and that fix is the inherent bonus. With that "fix" in place you can run a low to no magic game without issues. Something that I've been doing since inherent bonuses where introduced is return magic items to actually being special. Even going as far as creating unique magic items that are totally special with hardly any mechanical combat applications, as well as magic items that "grow" with the characters.

The third would be self-contained monsters. Easy to use, easy to wing, and easy to prepare. A delight to be used in combat and a delight for preparation time.

I'd also add a ditto to everything [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] put on his post.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
I forgot to add characters that play as the desired concept from the beginning rather than waiting 3, 4, 7, 11 levels before becoming the character concept the player envisioned.
 

Sethmaster

First Post
I like how I can use refluff the classes and powers as anything and play in any setting with only a few additional rules like ammunition and sanity checks.
Also how every class is viable and play differently from others in their roles with their own uniqueness.

Also, I goddamn love warlords.
 


JamesonCourage

First Post
Haha, I'm the only one to vote for the edition wars? (I also voted for skill challenges and paragon paths.) What can I say? I think the conversations they sparked are actually really valuable when it comes to evaluating game mechanics (and why I might value certain mechanics over others). I'm not much into it anymore, but I think that's because those conversations really helped flesh out my views on gaming, and let me verbalize what I like in a way I hadn't been able to prior to many of those conversations.

Communication is useful, even if it's destructive.
 

Haha, I'm the only one to vote for the edition wars? (I also voted for skill challenges and paragon paths.) What can I say? I think the conversations they sparked are actually really valuable when it comes to evaluating game mechanics (and why I might value certain mechanics over others). I'm not much into it anymore, but I think that's because those conversations really helped flesh out my views on gaming, and let me verbalize what I like in a way I hadn't been able to prior to many of those conversations.

Communication is useful, even if it's destructive
.

Absolutely. Great post. The edition wars were extremely valuable for clarifying how very specific components of game design (especially the aesthetic/presentation component) negatively or positively affects folks of various mental frameworks. You got some xp for those last 7 words (bolded mine)!

Mechanically I'd say that the best thing from 4e was completely decoupling hit point recovery from spell-casting. Just that innovation was enough to really break open the wall. This introduced options for self recovery.

<snip>

The second one in my book is transparent mechanics, which ties directly to consistent maths.

<snip>

The third would be self-contained monsters. Easy to use, easy to wing, and easy to prepare. A delight to be used in combat and a delight for preparation time.

I'd also add a ditto to everything [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] put on his post.

I forgot to add characters that play as the desired concept from the beginning rather than waiting 3, 4, 7, 11 levels before becoming the character concept the player envisioned.

I'll ditto everything in this post as well. The transparency is a huge one!

My main love is the explicitness. The designers were explicit about the maths so that player groups can use it and morph it if they must to create the game they want. Power effects are explicit so that the game does not become an enforced "beauty contest" where, if the GM likes* your idea it will succeed (albeit you might need to make a roll), but if they dislike* your idea it will likely fail ("well, you need an athletics check to catch up to where the giant is, followed by acrobatics to jump on his back and a STR and a DEX check to stay on. Then roll your attack - but you get a -4 modifier because he's thrashing about").

Transparency again. I'm going to piggy-back on this. Transparency is kryptonite for my most disliked GMing technique; illusionism (by way of GM force). The abridgement or suspension of the formula of GM framed situation + player action declaration + the action resolution mechanics as the primary driver of play is never good. It is especially not good when it is done so that the primary driver of play then becomes GM inclination (either arbitrarily or even in the interest of their metaplot). When GMs are enabled to willfully keep that subordination a secret due to there being an opaque/fuzzy curtain between the players and the game's machinery (until the GM clumsily and inevitably goes a bridge too far and continuously does things clearly out of line, thus showing their hand), that is illusionism. It comes in multiple shapes and sizes, but illusionism's best friend is unclear/incoherent/hand-wavey rules, vague GMing principles/guidance, and a stout invocation that the GM is always right/can do what they want for the sake of story/"its the GM's game"; see White Wolf's "Golden Rule" and D&D's historical "Rule 0".

4e's transparency kicked that approach in its teeth and took its lunch money. Though it would never be readily admitted, I have absolutely no doubt that much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands was had in the edition wars because many GMs had their precious illusionism taken from their toolbox.
 

fjw70

Explorer
I picked 3 without reading the post.

Healing surges, the math framework, and easy monster/encounter design is what I liked most.
 


Schmoe

Adventurer
I voted Other. Minions were the big innovation that I really liked from 4E. I think the idea was great and really lends itself to creating cinematic, dramatic combat scenarios. I'm not a 4E fan, but the Minions rules are inspiring.
 


Balesir

Adventurer
I voted Other. Minions were the big innovation that I really liked from 4E. I think the idea was great and really lends itself to creating cinematic, dramatic combat scenarios. I'm not a 4E fan, but the Minions rules are inspiring.
This is another "other" I agree with (but didn't think of when I originally posted). I would widen it, though - the whole minion - standard - elite - solo - swarm* spectrum allows combat encounters using monsters from the full range of "levels", but scaled and adjusted to suit the current PC level well. The only thing really missing was a stage between minion and standard - which is why several house-rule variants of such a thing exist.

*: By treating groups of low level creatures as swarms, you can not only use them at very high level, you also get to use them without the masses and masses of attack rolls required with just lots of puny combatants. Archer swarms with Area attacks and melee swarms with an Aura that does damage and that can act like a "mount" for a higher level creature (or PC) that joins with it combine to give all the tools you need for small-ish battles on your tabletop.
 
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