log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 4E The Best Thing from 4E

What are your favorite 4E elements?


  • Total voters
    225

Raith5

Adventurer
When I play 5e I really miss the four static defenses. I think the attacker rolling is more elegant and intuitive - one of those things where 4e was ahead of the curve.

I also love the tactical depth of 4e because it rewarded synergistic play where you had to cooperate as a team. I liked the way there were mechanics for things like quarrying and markings - things that made narrative sense in the sense that the actions of rangers doing damage and fighters defending has been part of party style adventuring. Sure it all had the clear potential to make combats drag (especially with the hp of some monsters in 4e).

I also voted for healing surges, for the way it made healing proportional which just makes sense to me but especially because that second winding made clerics and magical healing non-essential.

I did not vote for the edition war point. But yes the debates around 4e concepts in 4e (and 5e for that matter) have clarified my thoughts in respect to what counts as an innovation in RPGs and what I look for in a game. Even debates about hp and alignment where , lets face it, people rarely change their minds I have learnt things. I have been playing D&D for over 30 and 4e challenged my thinking about gaming and I think 4e was the edition that D&D needed to have, in terms of bring some fresh air and new concepts into the game , even if some of these were not fully thought out or gained much traction.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


fjw70

Explorer
It's been almost a year since I played 4e and I miss it. In the future however I will probably stick to the heroic tier. In general I like lower to mid-level play better tyan high level play, especially in 4e where you can be pretty heroic from 1st level on.
 

pemerton

Legend
Wow. A whole lot of "other" here. Poll fail!
I'm another "other" - and I clicked it before realising I could make multiple choices!

My "other" is inspired by the session I ran yesterday, where the PCs: (i) fought off a corrupted angel (Discord Incarnate) and then defeated a still-born godling created around a shard of the Rod of Seven Parts that resulted from the slaying of Miska the Wolf-Spider; (ii) took control of a portal to the Abyss; (iii) rode their Thundercloud Tower into and through the Demonweb Pits to directly confront Lolth.

The "best thing" here is the support the game gives for the full spectrum of D&D play, from saving villagers from goblins at low levels, to taking the fight to the gods and the Abyss at epic levels.

If I had to choose 3 from the list, they would be (in no particular order):

* skill challenges;

* consistent/transparent maths;

* encounter/daily structure for all classes;

* and as a lucky 4th, NPS and monsters that are simplified in presentation but that play better than in any other version of D&D (and better than most other fantasy RPGs I've played).

"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 agree that the MM3 damage fix for NPCs/monsters was needed.

But I don't agree with the rest of this. My game doesn't use Expertise feats and the PCs have no trouble hitting, including in a session yesterday when 28th level PCs (without Expertise) successfully inflicted 700 hp of damage on Lolth (AC 51, lowest defence Fort 46) in one round.

While magic item bonuses (or the inherent bonus alternative) are necessary (but not item bonuses to damage - the fighter in my game doesn't have any, and is plenty effective), I haven't found that that has reduced the feel of magic items in my game.

I've used more artefacts in 4e than in any other D&D-style game I've run - the Rod of Seven Parts, Whelm/Overwhelm, the Eye of Vecna, the Crystal of the Ebon Flame, the Sword of Kas. The clear maths and power system of the game has made these artefacts usable in play rather than the game-breakers of yore. And many items - not just these ones, but the Corellon-worshipper's power jewel ("Jewel of Corellon"), the tieflling paladin's khopesh of bonus damage vs bloodied enemies, and others - have been core elements in PCs' identities, which for me is the classic role of magic items in D&D.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
While magic item bonuses (or the inherent bonus alternative) are necessary (but not item bonuses to damage - the fighter in my game doesn't have any, and is plenty effective), I haven't found that that has reduced the feel of magic items in my game.
Yea, I agree with this. My personal opinion is that the introduction of the "hit tax" feats was a reactionary patch to a theoretical problem. I think the greater ability to apply more severe conditions at higher tiers, along with the scaling bonuses to hit provided by most leader classes, was more than enough to balance the greater delta between higher-tier PC attack bonuses and higher-tier monster defenses.

And I think the "necessity" of damage bonus items like the Iron Armbands (which I banned in my 4e games to absolutely zero consternation) is similar to the "necessity" of +Stat items in 3.X, such as Gloves of Dexterity. It confuses "necessary" with "most efficient". You could completely remove those items without impacting the characters abilities to defeat CR equivalent encounters. All those items do is allow characters to face much greater than CR equivalent challenges.
 

Yeah, I have to agree with Pemerton, the whole 'bad maths' meme in 4e was this bizarro-world nonsensical community mind-warp. Someone with a huge obsession with exact ordered progressions of numbers somehow got that ball rolling and the whole thing just would not die. The maths of 4e were basically dead on to start with, there was no issue except in people's heads. WotC made a major mistake by not just having one of the designers come out early on and clearly say "NO, we aren't 'fixing maths' because they aren't broken and we made the game this way because that's how we wanted it to be!" instead of releasing ill-conceived patches for non-existent problems.

That being said, I never thought the whole 'tax' of the 'feat tax' was that big a deal. You could take it or leave it. If you were really interested in optimizing your character you took it right away, otherwise you could just pick it up on that level where you weren't really sure what you wanted anyway. Again, the 'issue' here was more an issue in the minds of those fixated on minutia. With almost 20 feats to play with nobody really needed to miss one that much.

Honestly what mostly I like best about 4e are things that WotC apparently didn't care about, which is really annoying. I don't get what they thought 4e was all about, but it sure wasn't very well matched up with what the really successful 4e GMs were actually doing with it.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I didn't like most of what was in the poll so I checked Other.

I liked the expanded use of keywords to describe things - particularly the way they ended up leading us to 5e's use of them on the weapons table.

I liked starting healing at 0 hit points rather than counting negative hit points. So I guess I'm also kind of close to liking 4e's death saves (though I didn't happen to check it).

I like the idea of skill challenges but I think 4e's implementation of it was not very good.
 

I didn't like most of what was in the poll so I checked Other.

I liked the expanded use of keywords to describe things - particularly the way they ended up leading us to 5e's use of them on the weapons table.

I liked starting healing at 0 hit points rather than counting negative hit points. So I guess I'm also kind of close to liking 4e's death saves (though I didn't happen to check it).

I like the idea of skill challenges but I think 4e's implementation of it was not very good.

Yeah, I'm not sure what exactly the 5e weapon damage type keywords are attempting to accomplish. They're used in only a very small number of places AFAICT. Hardly seemed worth the trouble. OTOH keywords in general are awesome.

4e SCs are decent, the original DMG's write up clearly didn't sink in for most readers, and there were some aspects that got edited out in the first errata that were clearly not quite fully baked. The actual rules were pretty solid though, and just kept getting better with various tweaks. What never seemed to improve was WotC's ability to get that tool into the hands of competent adventure designers that understood how to use it effectively.
 

Sethmaster

First Post
Yeah, I'm not sure what exactly the 5e weapon damage type keywords are attempting to accomplish. They're used in only a very small number of places AFAICT. Hardly seemed worth the trouble. OTOH keywords in general are awesome.

4e SCs are decent, the original DMG's write up clearly didn't sink in for most readers, and there were some aspects that got edited out in the first errata that were clearly not quite fully baked. The actual rules were pretty solid though, and just kept getting better with various tweaks. What never seemed to improve was WotC's ability to get that tool into the hands of competent adventure designers that understood how to use it effectively.


Blame the overwhelming success of OGL.
Then again, blame Hasbro and their jealously of Pathfinder that make them use a restrictive licensing method that make it hard for creators to create their supplements full time.
With a lot of other tabletop choices for them to go for, it's not rocket science that the reason why 4E didn't get many supplements, especially in much needed fluff, such settings, books about classes, races, places, and adventures.
I blame Hasbro and the GSL.
 

keterys

First Post
The maths of 4e were basically dead on to start with, there was no issue except in people's heads. WotC made a major mistake by not just having one of the designers come out early on and clearly say "NO, we aren't 'fixing maths' because they aren't broken and we made the game this way because that's how we wanted it to be!" instead of releasing ill-conceived patches for non-existent problems.
Errm, this is actually just as wrong.

There is an actual mathematical problem in 4e, especially when you also factor in that higher level groups tend to face a higher range of opponents.

Part of that problem is that PCs fall somewhat behind, at higher levels, without extensive effort.This is particularly noteworthy in parties that don't focus on certain sets of powers that alter defenses or attacks. Extensive playtests showed the results were grim (one might even say grindy) for groups that neglected their accuracy, sometimes through choice of class rather than strictly power or tactical selection (Sentinel Druid vs Warlord, for instance).

Part of that problem is also that powers which add/subtract 5 or Stat to a d20 roll (let's say, attack here) completely throw the math off. And then, worse, also invariably stack. Cause maybe the system can withstand one +-5, sure, but +-15 or more? d20 only has so many sides. Worse, the folks who know about this most certainly took expertise, so hitting "all the time" becomes a standard event.

So, a typical low epic godhunt might start with "I need 20s to hit" and two characters later go "Well, with his +9 to hit for a round, and her -9 to defenses for a round, I now hit on 2s. Guess we better go through all 1200 hp in one round, guys." - Another group might look at that and go "Well, guess this is going to be a really damn slow and boring 8 hour combat."

Epic 4e is really malfed up by powers like Valorous Charge and Mantle of Unity, which are encounter powers (read: the party can figure out ways to do this 2-3 rounds every encounter), which make PCs effectively unhittable. It's similarly hindered by things that grossly alter ability to hit in either direction like the Warchanter's AP benefit.

There's a reason why the pendulum swung so sharply towards Bounded Accuracy in 5E.

Anyhow - there honestly is a math problem*. Expertise is not the fix for it, but it could have been _part_ of the fix for it.

* At least based on the # of tables of Epic 4e I played, DMed, managed the playtest data for, and saw the convention results for - which is many hundreds of tables.
 

My others include (in no particular order): Minions, clarity of presentation, Solos, transparency in play, Elites, class balance, Warlords, encounter balance, universality of Second Wind, and remarkable ease of DMing. That includes many of the below, and the ones I don't mention, I still found to be positives.

Action Points. Specifically, the way they were implemented in 4e, where an AP gave you an extra action.
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.
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 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.
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.
I liked the cosmology, especially the fey and shadow planes, or whatever they were called. I liked the "bloodied" status. I liked the alignments. I liked minions and solos.
The "best thing" here is the support the game gives for the full spectrum of D&D play, from saving villagers from goblins at low levels, to taking the fight to the gods and the Abyss at epic levels.
I've used more artefacts in 4e than in any other D&D-style game I've run - the Rod of Seven Parts, Whelm/Overwhelm, the Eye of Vecna, the Crystal of the Ebon Flame, the Sword of Kas. The clear maths and power system of the game has made these artefacts usable in play rather than the game-breakers of yore. And many items - not just these ones, but the Corellon-worshipper's power jewel ("Jewel of Corellon"), the tieflling paladin's khopesh of bonus damage vs bloodied enemies, and others - have been core elements in PCs' identities, which for me is the classic role of magic items in D&D.
There is an actual mathematical problem in 4e, especially when you also factor in that higher level groups tend to face a higher range of opponents.

Part of that problem is that PCs fall somewhat behind, at higher levels, without extensive effort.This is particularly noteworthy in parties that don't focus on certain sets of powers that alter defenses or attacks.

Part of that problem is also that powers which add/subtract 5 or Stat to a d20 roll (let's say, attack here) completely throw the math off. And then, worse, also invariably stack. Cause maybe the system can withstand one +-5, sure, but +-15 or more? d20 only has so many sides. Worse, the folks who know about this most certainly took expertise, so hitting "all the time" becomes a standard event.

So, a typical low epic godhunt might start with "I need 20s to hit" and two characters later go "Well, with his +9 to hit for a round, and her -9 to defenses for a round, I now hit on 2s. Guess we better go through all 1200 hp in one round, guys."
While I know you're trying to spin it as bad and exaggerating for effect, you're not far off the mark. The 4e treadmill was slightly slower for PCs than for monsters, so at very high level you were 2 or 3 behind in raw attacks & defenses (and were probably even farther behind on your worst defense). OTOH, you had more & more potent dailies (which had effect lines or did something on a miss), more healing (including non-surge healing), leader classes who could hand out bonuses larger than that 2 or 3 point gap, critical hits that did huge damage, and magic item dailies and a half dozen utilities each that might help in various odd ways now and then.
There's a reason why the pendulum swung so sharply towards Bounded Accuracy in 5E.
Ironically, Bounded Accuracy is just the 4e Treadmill with much smaller numbers. The Pendulum didn't swing, it held up a mirror and blew some smoke.

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 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.
It's uncomfortable to acknowledge, but, yes, you're likely onto something there. Your 'illusionism' is probably only one example of a questionable playstyle that 4e's in-play transparency made too obvious to easily get away with.

That said, your 'illusionism' isn't such a terrible play style. Indeed, for some games - like most other versions of D&D, and, I'm rapidly deciding, 5e, is arguably the /best/ way to deliver a positive experience to your players. If you can't depend on the rules to deliver a fair, genre-supporting resolution, breaking out the smoke & mirrors (and DM screen, and conveniently (un)lucky dice), and applying liberal DM fiat may be the best way to save the experience. As long as you don't make it too obvious...
 
Last edited:

fjw70

Explorer
If they were to do a 4.5 I would favor 4.5 following Gamma World's lead and replace the 1/2 level bonus, enhancement bonus, feat bonus, and stat increases with a +1 per level bonus to Attacks, damage, and skills.
 

pemerton

Legend
There is an actual mathematical problem in 4e, especially when you also factor in that higher level groups tend to face a higher range of opponents.

Part of that problem is that PCs fall somewhat behind, at higher levels, without extensive effort.

<snip>

Part of that problem is also that powers which add/subtract 5 or Stat to a d20 roll (let's say, attack here) completely throw the math off. And then, worse, also invariably stack.

<snip>

Anyhow - there honestly is a math problem*. Expertise is not the fix for it, but it could have been _part_ of the fix for it.
I haven't GMed or seen the data for hundreds of tables - only mine.

We don't use Expertise feats in our game, and - as I posted - the players have no trouble hitting. 28th level PCs delivered 700 hp of damage to AC 51, F 46, R/W 49 Lolth in 1 round. The PCs do have ways to generate buffs on attacks and debuffs on defence, and on this particular occasion they piled them on. I could see how groups with less buff-y builds, or less skill in play, would have trouble (though I wouldn't expect epic play to be the first place for it to rear its head - for those sorts of players 4e is, in general, likely to be a mixed experience).

We don't have builds that lead to "2s to hit, 20s to be hit" - the best defences on our PCs (paladin's AC, sorcerer's NADs) generally don't get worse than 15 or so needed by an on-level opponent, and there are plenty that can be hit on a 10 or less (paladin's Reflex, invoker/wizard on anything but will).

I think that if you want to deal with this issue, you have to tackle it at its source - stacking buffs and debuffs. The expertise feats are (in my view) a red herring.

It's uncomfortable to acknowledge, but, yes, you're likely onto something there. Your 'illusionism' is probably only one example of a questionable playstyle that 4e's in-play transparency made too obvious to easily get away with.

That said, your 'illusionism' isn't such a terrible play style. Indeed, for some games - like most other versions of D&D, and, I'm rapidly deciding, 5e, is arguably the /best/ way to deliver a positive experience to your players. If you can't depend on the rules to deliver a fair, genre-supporting resolution, breaking out the smoke & mirrors (and DM screen, and conveniently (un)lucky dice), and applying liberal DM fiat may be the best way to save the experience. As long as you don't make it too obvious...
How much are you exaggerating about 5e? If this really is true of it, it counts as a big blow against it from my personal point of view.
 

That said, your 'illusionism' isn't such a terrible play style. Indeed, for some games - like most other versions of D&D, and, I'm rapidly deciding, 5e - is arguably the /best/ way to deliver a positive experience to your players.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?429542-The-Best-Thing-from-4E/page4#ixzz3UanFxk1h
How much are you exaggerating about 5e? If this really is true of it, it counts as a big blow against it from my personal point of view.
I don't feel I'm exaggerating. 5e encounter guidelines are so approximate, PCs so variable in effectiveness, and bounded accuracy so sensitive to even a slight run of bad luck, that it just runs better with a DM screen up and the DM overriding his side of it as needed to keep things on track.

I'm OK with using Hussar's 'Illusionism style,' myself, and, if the DM is up to the challenge, it can do a great job of sweeping mechanical shortcomings under the rug while keeping the player experience focused on RP, story, & fun. I'm sorry you don't care for that mode of play, but if you need to, you can mod 5e until you're comfortable using it in the style of your choice. 5e is very up-front about being just a starting place, and intended to be customized by each DM.

I'm not sure where you'd start. Proficiency to AC and to more PC saves, maybe?

If they were to do a 4.5 I would favor 4.5 following Gamma World's lead and replace the 1/2 level bonus, enhancement bonus, feat bonus, and stat increases with a +1 per level bonus to Attacks, damage, and skills.
It was a neat, simple approach. The way they handled weapons was pretty cute, too.
 
Last edited:

Errm, this is actually just as wrong.

There is an actual mathematical problem in 4e, especially when you also factor in that higher level groups tend to face a higher range of opponents.

Part of that problem is that PCs fall somewhat behind, at higher levels, without extensive effort.This is particularly noteworthy in parties that don't focus on certain sets of powers that alter defenses or attacks. Extensive playtests showed the results were grim (one might even say grindy) for groups that neglected their accuracy, sometimes through choice of class rather than strictly power or tactical selection (Sentinel Druid vs Warlord, for instance).

Part of that problem is also that powers which add/subtract 5 or Stat to a d20 roll (let's say, attack here) completely throw the math off. And then, worse, also invariably stack. Cause maybe the system can withstand one +-5, sure, but +-15 or more? d20 only has so many sides. Worse, the folks who know about this most certainly took expertise, so hitting "all the time" becomes a standard event.

So, a typical low epic godhunt might start with "I need 20s to hit" and two characters later go "Well, with his +9 to hit for a round, and her -9 to defenses for a round, I now hit on 2s. Guess we better go through all 1200 hp in one round, guys." - Another group might look at that and go "Well, guess this is going to be a really damn slow and boring 8 hour combat."

Epic 4e is really malfed up by powers like Valorous Charge and Mantle of Unity, which are encounter powers (read: the party can figure out ways to do this 2-3 rounds every encounter), which make PCs effectively unhittable. It's similarly hindered by things that grossly alter ability to hit in either direction like the Warchanter's AP benefit.

There's a reason why the pendulum swung so sharply towards Bounded Accuracy in 5E.

Anyhow - there honestly is a math problem*. Expertise is not the fix for it, but it could have been _part_ of the fix for it.

* At least based on the # of tables of Epic 4e I played, DMed, managed the playtest data for, and saw the convention results for - which is many hundreds of tables.

Yeah, we differ in at least how we perceive this. I don't think of this as what people are talking about when the say "4e has a math problem." IME they were talking about the fact that monster defenses outstrip PC attack bonuses by about 4 points over the course of 30 levels (and conversely there is a more complex but somewhat similar shift in PC defenses vs monster attack bonus in favor of monsters). AFAICT this is ALL that Weapon Expertise and its ilk were ever intended to 'fix'.

My EXPERIENCE with Epic 4e is that the nature of play simply changes. The mechanics of hitting things gets very easy overall. It gets to be more about action economy and synergy so that the characters achieve their alpha strike properly and then can manage the following rounds.

I agree with you however that in 4e achieving the standard of average play with your characters at high levels meant either sticking to very clear build patterns or following some very formulaic and tedious procedures. I think what worked well at low levels as a team-focused system tends to become a series of gimmicks at higher levels. However, as Pemerton's and other people's play experiences show, players can generally handle it and its a manageable thing.

Yes it is easy to see how 5e is partly a reaction to intricate character builds in general, the problem really is that 5e characters just play the same at all levels and there's little of the synergy that 4e has. Nor are the characters very heroic really. Its a shade better than 2e, maybe, but it cannot come close to delivering 4e's style of play. The overall style of play of 4e IS the 'best thing', you cannot however just take pieces of 4e elements and say which is best, the whole game, when approached properly, is just unique and really fun, even at level 30.
 

I haven't GMed or seen the data for hundreds of tables - only mine.

We don't use Expertise feats in our game, and - as I posted - the players have no trouble hitting. 28th level PCs delivered 700 hp of damage to AC 51, F 46, R/W 49 Lolth in 1 round. The PCs do have ways to generate buffs on attacks and debuffs on defence, and on this particular occasion they piled them on. I could see how groups with less buff-y builds, or less skill in play, would have trouble (though I wouldn't expect epic play to be the first place for it to rear its head - for those sorts of players 4e is, in general, likely to be a mixed experience).

We don't have builds that lead to "2s to hit, 20s to be hit" - the best defences on our PCs (paladin's AC, sorcerer's NADs) generally don't get worse than 15 or so needed by an on-level opponent, and there are plenty that can be hit on a 10 or less (paladin's Reflex, invoker/wizard on anything but will).

I think that if you want to deal with this issue, you have to tackle it at its source - stacking buffs and debuffs. The expertise feats are (in my view) a red herring.
This is why in my own personal experimental 4e-like has no stacking. You get proficiency, ability, level, and permanent, those are the modifiers. Anything situational that isn't big enough for 5e-style Advantage is not worth bothering with, and you simply don't get to stack permanent modifiers. It takes a little bit of time to wrap your head around this design, but it works fine and is VASTLY simpler. It isn't 5e-like 'bounded accuracy' -a misnomer if there ever was one- but it produces some similar effects in terms of limiting the overall scope of divergence between different character's bonuses to do various things.

How much are you exaggerating about 5e? If this really is true of it, it counts as a big blow against it from my personal point of view.

IMHO he's overstating the case some. 5e has somewhat more loosely defined spells, but they're generally not quite so undefined as in past editions. You can still of course run into cases, but its kind of at the very least a mixed bag. In general if you read your spells you can be pretty sure how they're going to work. I haven't gotten to play with the high level spells yet, maybe things change, but if the DM is knowledgeable he should have a decent idea of how things are going to go in a given encounter. It lacks the real precision that 4e can have, but it isn't as completely random as earlier efforts.
 

pemerton

Legend
in 4e achieving the standard of average play with your characters at high levels meant either sticking to very clear build patterns or following some very formulaic and tedious procedures. I think what worked well at low levels as a team-focused system tends to become a series of gimmicks at higher levels.
I think this is part of the reason for the regular power-swaps at Paragon and above. The gimmicks are always changing! Also, the mix of encounter and daily resources means that sticking to a precise formula becomes harder.

For instance, in the Lolth fight that I mentioned the sorcerer/bard player had been saving Climactic Chord: a 22nd level bard daily that lets allies take a free attack with +9 to hit and damage. However, he ended up having to use that power in an earlier encounter, to bring it to a close before the PCs lost too many more hit points (they were in an auto-damage aura which only one or two of them had resistance against).

So the anti-Lolth strategy had to get revised on the fly. This is the sort of thing that maintains variety.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
My choices were At-Will Powers, Class Roles, and Other.

Alright, this means that I need to explain the "Other" part, thus: What I'm really approving is the existence of "So Many Options!" Examples follow:

Your basic wildshaping 4E Druid could choose from among 17 different At-Will powers (though some of them were Beast Form and some were not). Even your basic 4E Bard could choose from among 7 different At-Will powers. The Wizard got to choose from among 19 At-Wills, not counting the Witch variant powers. There were six different Controllers once Essentials came out, seven Defenders, eight Leaders, and nine Striker classes: Lots of options.

Multiclassing and the Hybrid Classes gave even more options. "Skill Powers" gave even more options. The invention of "Backgrounds" and the proliferation of Feats gave even more options. (Do I even need to bother mentioning "Themes?") It was an imagineer's paradise.

I didn't check "Skill Challenges" because it was an unfinished initiative upon first release: They had a good idea there, but the initial implementation was weak.

I didn't check "Healing Surges" because they were divisive. (I saw them as a useful way to arrange game mechanics, but other people were outright offended by their existence. Tastes differ, as always.)

I also liked the death and dying rules, but they weren't a really big draw -- merely a very imaginative way to heighten the roleplaying experience. Not worth checking as a favorite IMHO.
 


keterys

First Post
We don't use Expertise feats in our game, and - as I posted - the players have no trouble hitting. 28th level PCs delivered 700 hp of damage to AC 51, F 46, R/W 49 Lolth in 1 round. The PCs do have ways to generate buffs on attacks and debuffs on defence, and on this particular occasion they piled them on. I could see how groups with less buff-y builds, or less skill in play, would have trouble (though I wouldn't expect epic play to be the first place for it to rear its head - for those sorts of players 4e is, in general, likely to be a mixed experience).
Yep, I was at a table that wanted to see how tough Lolth was, at level 22 - autowon initiative, buffed ~+9 to hit, -10 to her defenses, autoknocked her unconscious, flurry of CdGs and she never got off a single attack.

It's very possible to cope with the problem, though I don't consider the above entirely a feature ;)

We don't have builds that lead to "2s to hit, 20s to be hit" - the best defences on our PCs (paladin's AC, sorcerer's NADs) generally don't get worse than 15 or so needed by an on-level opponent, and there are plenty that can be hit on a 10 or less (paladin's Reflex, invoker/wizard on anything but will).
Yep, the trick is to have a few characters who focus; take both +4 to a defense feats in one defense, for instance, then Mantle of Unity (everyone uses highest defenses in the group). Adding another 7-9 on top of that (Valorous Charge is an easy example) or giving the enemies -4 or so to hit (my controller tended to prone, daze, -2 attack the board when I brought him out) is just further icing on the cake.

I'll say, you've got a bard. If he built his character differently, he could do what I describe.

I think that if you want to deal with this issue, you have to tackle it at its source - stacking buffs and debuffs. The expertise feats are (in my view) a red herring.
Agreed that the buffs/debuffs are the bigger problem, though I'll note that it gives you strangely divergent play.

Lolth's guards, for instance, will end up harder to hit than her because people use the limited use powers on her. A group holding themselves back might even have to grind an average encounter down for a bit, while the "boss fight" is trivialized. Much like you saw.

I'd have been fine if the math from expertise/defense feats had been baked into the system (and maybe fix that your 3rd defense drops precipitously vs monster attacks over time), if the rest of the system were a little more reined in. For example, let's say you hit an average opponent of your level on a 6. That'd keep you at around 65% average for epic, with spikes to 40% to 20% for the bosses, which you could pull out limited resources to get back to 60-80% success rate.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top