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D&D 4E Value of DDI for existing 4e tools and resources?

Burgonet

Explorer
I'm in the midst of preparing for an Essentials-only campaign that hopefully should start in about 4 weeks or so.

As part of these preparations, I'm hoping to develop some statistics for certain major characters, monsters and so forth.

With that in mind I am contemplating renewing my DDI subscription, a service I payed for back in 2009-10 but haven't done so since this time.

As there's a good chance there may be either current subscribers reading or those of you who have an opinion on this subject.

So I'm asking - is the current state of DDI worth a subscription and if so for how long might I consider a subscription?

I'm primarily interested in having the capability to create Essentials-compatible monsters and encounters. I never did purchase MM 3 so I don't actually have the current forumla required to create such monsters and would clearly benefit in having the ability to do this.

I'm also interested in the range and scope of their existing monster database as well as the Character Builder as well to a much lesser extent.

So with that in mind, is DDI a 'must buy' for running an Essentials campaign?
And if not what alternatives might you suggest?
 

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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
For me there's no way I could run my present campaigns without DDi- I understand how lame that may sound to some people but I've been 30 years in the game, I have all the 4e books (yes, all of them), and yet due to the hectic nature of my life- DDi is almost the only way anything gets done.

In one of my present campaigns the big thing is re-skinning for me, my players are mostly pros when it comes to 4e- they've seen a lot of it before, so I'm messing with bad guys big style and Adventure Tools is a must... There's just everything there.

In game the Compendium is likewise miraculous- even with a rules lawyer at the table its good to get the official lowdown.

Hell, I've even gone back to using the online gaming table, I'm looking forward to having a crack at 5e but for me, and perhaps because of the advent of the new edition, 4e and DDi are my favourite things.

Sorry if I didn't answer your questions regarding Essentials but I'll be honest, while I've got all the stuff I've only skimmed it- I tend not to restrict my players to one thing or another (not a criticism).

Cheers PDR
 

delericho

Legend
I'm not a DDI subscriber, nor a particular fan of 4e. However, having seen the nature of the offering, and having seen how much use my 4e DM got out of the tools, I'm inclined to strongly recommend them for any 4e DM, especially if you're running a full campaign. I wouldn't say they're "must have", but they certainly seemed to be a major boon to my DM.

As for the length of subscription to consider, that would depend on you - if you're really planning a full campaign, then I'd go for the full year to get the maximum savings.
 

Burgonet

Explorer
For me there's no way I could run my present campaigns without DDi- I understand how lame that may sound to some people but I've been 30 years in the game, I have all the 4e books (yes, all of them), and yet due to the hectic nature of my life- DDi is almost the only way anything gets done.

In one of my present campaigns the big thing is re-skinning for me, my players are mostly pros when it comes to 4e- they've seen a lot of it before, so I'm messing with bad guys big style and Adventure Tools is a must... There's just everything there.

In game the Compendium is likewise miraculous- even with a rules lawyer at the table its good to get the official lowdown.

Hell, I've even gone back to using the online gaming table, I'm looking forward to having a crack at 5e but for me, and perhaps because of the advent of the new edition, 4e and DDi are my favourite things.

Sorry if I didn't answer your questions regarding Essentials but I'll be honest, while I've got all the stuff I've only skimmed it- I tend not to restrict my players to one thing or another (not a criticism).

Cheers PDR

Any attempt to time save is far from lame!
If you get that much use out of your subscription that's good to hear, if anything I also live a fairly hectic life and any tools available to reduce preparation time would be welcome.

I'm going Essentials-only as I've already run 2 campaigns using older 4e books and have a 'been there, done that' attitude.
I figured imposing arbitrary limits would actually get interest from my playing group - which it has - as well as define boundaries within which fun can be had.

Now as far as existing monsters that are on DDI are concerned - roughly how many did they have listed and on there?

And how are the tools for creating your own?
I've not used their web-browser versions of the tools and would be interested to hear how these are to use and save/retrieve the data from.

I'm not a DDI subscriber, nor a particular fan of 4e. However, having seen the nature of the offering, and having seen how much use my 4e DM got out of the tools, I'm inclined to strongly recommend them for any 4e DM, especially if you're running a full campaign. I wouldn't say they're "must have", but they certainly seemed to be a major boon to my DM.

As for the length of subscription to consider, that would depend on you - if you're really planning a full campaign, then I'd go for the full year to get the maximum savings.

I'm certainly mulling over a subscription.
Pricing is something I'll likewise consider and perhaps a full year's subscription might again be the way to go.
 

Radiating Gnome

Adventurer
I wouldn't want to run or play in a 4e game without a DDI subscription, but I should point out that the subscription price for me is not much of a challenge to afford. If you're budget is so tight that you need to give $8-10/month careful consideration, your mileage may vary.

They've been pretty reliable getting new content into the compendium -- every monster, magic item, and official class option (i.e. non-playtest) is in there. Playtest material, for example the Hengoyokai race, made it in once the official version came out.

What isn't in there is the fluff surrounding the material -- you'll see dozens of orcs, but no text describing the orcs and how they fit together.

The character builder is indispensible.

The monster builder is all right, but I mostly use Power2ool.com to manage and create monsters, which I find a lot more flexible -- but it does a lot less of the work for you, so you may find the monster builder works better for you. Power2ool.com is free, but to connect to content in the compendium, you'll need that DDI subscription.

-rg

ps -- if this inspires you to go check out power2ool.com, please be aware that Firefox 13 introduced some flash changes that appear to be jacking up functionality on a lot of sites -- I've seen it at work on sites I use, and I've seen it on power2ool.com, too. The site works fine in FF12 and other browsers .
 

Obryn

Hero
I mostly use the old Monster Builder and a "loaded" offline Character Builder, but I find that it's still worth the sub.

The keystone of my own game is actually Masterplan. It can import monsters (and PCs if you use it for that) from the online tools, and it's a godsend while prepping and running 4e. It's easier to run for me than the Next playtest was, and that's saying something. The combat tracker is outstanding, rolling both recharges and saving throws. It rolls initiative for me, and it tracks HPs better and faster than I can.

Really, the ability to import the monsters from the online adventure tools is just so convenient ... well, you have to try it, but it's worth the $70.

But yeah, it's definitely worth the money for any serious 4e game. I could run 4e without it, but I don't know if I'd want to. I remember sorting through stacks of books and keeping photocopies of classes/monsters/feats/spells next to me, and I don't want to go back there. :)

-O
 

the Jester

Legend
Boy do I hate to ask this question, but...

Can the Monster Builder build monsters with MM3 math yet?

I haven't checked in on this in a long time, but as of the last time I did the answer was still no, what feels like years after MM3 came out and made a major improvement to the way monsters play.

The utter incompetence surrounding the Monster Builder was what eventually pushed me out of being a DDI subscriber.
 

Obryn

Hero
I ... think it does? I believe that was an early update.

It has been a long time since I've done up/down leveling in any way than by hand.

-O
 

Pour

First Post
I think I echo most 4e DMs saying the tools really are indespensible. You'll save so much time with the compendium, moving through the various databases, filtering searches as needed, and finding stuff you had no idea existed. The character builder is the best way to make PCs in a respectable amount of time. I also use Power2ool for monsters, not the monster builder, but it's just the perfect (free) compliment. There's also other 4e programs/tools out there, everything from combat/initiative tracking to campaign mapping as you need it. Buy it for a month and see how you like it.
 

the Jester

Legend
I ... think it does? I believe that was an early update.

Oh, I assure you, it was by no means an early update! I would almost certainly still be a subscriber if it was, especially given how far Dragon and Dungeon have improved from that period!
 

Uller

Adventurer
If you're going with an "essentials only" game, you'll definitely want access to the MM3 monsters. I don't think essentials characters are definitively tougher than PHB ones, but it is easier to make an effective character with essentials.

I run two campaigns and have found DDI plus the VT to be invaluable. Could I do it without them? Sure...But for $8/month It's definitely been worth it for me.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Alas all my monsters are house-ruled- we go 75% hit points and some mad formula for damage that I have in a spreadsheet which does the business for me- and is nastier than MM3 I promise. So for every monster I recalculate hit points and damage, and then add or subtract powers as needed.

Did you ask which monsters were on the DDI- all of them, I'm unaware of any that are missing, and making new ones is easy- find a base monster to start from, even if you're going to change everything... click Customise and re-write.

Just to put that in to context, while watching the British GP (2 hours) I re-jigged 40-50 monsters, while drinking coffee, and watching the race- so at no great pace.

Cheers PDR
 

Obryn

Hero
Alas all my monsters are house-ruled- we go 75% hit points and some mad formula for damage that I have in a spreadsheet which does the business for me- and is nastier than MM3 I promise. So for every monster I recalculate hit points and damage, and then add or subtract powers as needed.
The toggles available in Masterplan, fwiw, include...

* HP %
* XP %
* Attack bonus/penalty
* AC vs. Other Defenses adjustments

So it'd handle that without a problem. Not so much the damage, though.

-O
 

Burgonet

Explorer
While I should probably also look at alternatives to the "MM3+" math, it is reading here that taking out a current DDI subscription might be an excellent idea.

So that's sounding like the course of action for now.


Thanks for the further input, everyone!
 

Derulbaskul

Explorer
@OP: Yes, it is worth the USD70 or so a year for the time it will save you in a month.

Boy do I hate to ask this question, but...

Can the Monster Builder build monsters with MM3 math yet? (snip)

I'm amazed to report that, yes, it finally uses the correct maths. Of course, updating the old beasties is not an automatic process. You have to fart around quite a bit first.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
The toggles available in Masterplan, fwiw, include...

* HP %
* XP %
* Attack bonus/penalty
* AC vs. Other Defenses adjustments

So it'd handle that without a problem. Not so much the damage, though.

-O

I have Masterplan- my gripe with it is I can't seem to get it to display the attack powers et al for my PCs when we play- and mostly we play online (via Maptools, or the DDI). With either of the previous two its easier to 'bot' PCs that are missing- all their powers et al are already macroed up and a button press away.

I spent some time on Saturday just gone with Masterplan working through the tutorials trying to see if it was me that was doing it wrong- it usually is.

Just to reiterate- Masterplan is the dogs but for us it doesn't store (as far as we can tell) all the PCs info and attack rolls etc.

If you know a way to make it do so then please tell me, as I'd make the change in a heartbeat.

Cheers PDR
 

Obryn

Hero
Sadly, I don't... I don't enter my group's PCs into it... They like rolling their Initiative too much.

I probably should. The new condition tracking is brilliant.

-O
 

Terrance888

First Post
I have masterplan but because my group doesn't have much mobile tech (desktops, no laptops) I use it mostly to help myself plan and make monster stat-sheets to print and use.

For building effective MM3 style monsters, I use
Marvelous Monsters and either Masterplan or Monster Maker. I've yet to find a monster maker to actually make the stats MM3 style.
 

Burgonet

Explorer
I have masterplan but because my group doesn't have much mobile tech (desktops, no laptops) I use it mostly to help myself plan and make monster stat-sheets to print and use.

For building effective MM3 style monsters, I use
Marvelous Monsters and either Masterplan or Monster Maker. I've yet to find a monster maker to actually make the stats MM3 style.

I had a look at the Marvellous Monsters pdf earlier.
Can you or someone else who has used this rules patch/variant relate to me how this compares to the Monster Vault/post Monster Manual 3 games math?

I'm no maths whiz, but have two of them in my group (one is currently writing a maths textbook in his spare time) so if I'm going to front the group with variant math I'd love to know what this brings to the table.
 


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