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D&D 5E What most needs revision for the (hypothetical) 50th anniversary core books?

Stalker0

Legend
Oh I forgot the biggest changes of all.... monsters.

A common critique of 5e is monsters as "bags of hitpoints". There was a really cool design to later 4th edition monsters that was some of the baby that got thrown out with the bathwater.

For example, the monster categories in 4e (solider, brute, artillery) were actually quite useful. 4e went in with the understanding that "it takes a party to fight a party".... which is 100% correct. Any time you use less than a party against PCs you really have to compensate. 5e sort of notes that but it forgot some of the lessons learned. Also 4e monsters had much more interesting abilities in many cases, 5e monsters are just generic by comparison.

Lastly, 4e had a lot of interesting traps and effects to just add to a fight. You can do that in 5e, but 4e better outlined it and showcased examples of it.

So yeah....a good rework of monsters could be useful.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
I want four core books:

• Players (including everything for skills, combat, etc. plus build-your-own lineage and swappable class features)

• DM (including all worldbuilding, magic items, genre options)

• Monsters (and other kinds of challenges)

• Setting (Forgotten Realms as separable setting assumptions, or use Dark Sun instead, or whatever)
 

Mercurius

Legend
Re: Apology edition what I mean is that all of the design in early 5E was predicated on this fear that they might possibly offend someone, and they desperately wanted to get back as much of the PF playerbase as possible, whilst retaining at least some of the 4E playerbase (who they actually treated worse, I guess because they felt they were more loyal and thus could afford to ignore - they weren't entirely wrong, either!). There were a lot of bad decisions that were the result of this overcaution. Some good new stuff came through anyway, like Advantage/Disadvantage, but an awful lot of stuff is just sort of hanging around. The Sorcerer is one example. The "70% approval" thing they used to have (which seems to be gone now) was emblematic of this whole attitude.

However, they now have 50m+ players. Most of them never played PF or even 3.XE at all, or 4E. A huge number are new to RPGs. They will have different things they like about D&D, and different things which are "sacred cows" to them about 5E, that they really don't want changed, and they're much younger, so will be more accepting or even demanding of novelty and change than 40+ grogs whose groups might have a health incident if they had to learn a new rule or a class got rejigged (I kid, I'm 43 for god's sake but sometimes I get that vibe from certain posts - posts, not posters, note, no-one is quite that groggy all the time lol).

Instead of trying to just gather up what they can of the old 3.XE and 4E players, which was DND Next's purpose, they need to go forwards really embrace the new players, who are so numerous, and make sure D&D becomes this thing that they want to teach their kids in 20+ years or whatever (as some of the 40+ people are now doing), and that they're still playing at 20, 30, 40 and so on. They're potentially easy to lose because much as many grogs hate novelty, younger players tend to love it. You have to strike the right balance, and it's a totally different balance to 2014 or whenever.
OK, yes, I basically agree. My one caveat, and it is a significant one, is that they have reached this level of popularity with that very same game they published in 2014. There were other factors, of course, and really it was a combination of things coming together in a totally unexpected and pleasing way, but one of those factors was the game itself, that was clearly more approachable than the last two editions, and one that found a compromising middle ground between old and new, traditional and post-Warcraft fantasy. Meaning, they were successful with the game they designed, so should be hesitant to veer too far away from that, at least as far as the core rules are concerned.

The two main areas of complaint that I see for 5E is in one of two general areas: One, the culture war stuff, with extremes on either side. I tend to think this is much milder among the total player base than it seems on the internet, and think WotC should be careful not to go too far in one direction or the other, and that any changes should always have "better playability" in mind (which is why, I think, the racial bonuses going away is fine, because it doesn't limit anything or stop DMs from still having them as an optional rule, but it opens up character creation so they aren't focused on race-class optimization; meaning, regardless of the politics behind it, it actually improves playability).

The other area of frequent complaint, at least on the internet, is some variation of it is too bland, too simplistic, not enough options, not made for "real gamers," etc. And this isn't only coming from diehards. My group is comprised of casual Gen-Xers, most of whom, when we got our group together in 2008, hadn't played since college or 2E. For the most part, they really liked 4E and I know one, at least, hasn't been as struck with 5E because of the reduction in tactical options. On the internet I see some complain about the overall failure to make good on the whole modular option/complexity dial thing, or keeping the scope of D&D too narrow (FR campaign after FR campaign).

On the other hand, I'm guessing these complaints are mainly from older players who miss elements of crunchier editions, be it 4E or 3E. But I do wonder if at some point, the new player base will also want something more.

(There is also a relatively small, but vocal, contingent of folks who say 5E sucks because it isn't 1E or "real D&D," but most of them have moved on to OSR games, although still complain about 5E not being what they want D&D to be...it is a bit of a head-scratcher).

Anyhow, I think the time is ripe for 5E to take it up an octave. They've established a huge player base mostly (but not entirely) comprised of new players, a lot of whom have been playing for several years. While it made sense not to broaden the scope of D&D in the first half decade or so, I think some of these players will eventually want something more or different, be it non-traditional settings (which, since 2018, they're starting to get with the Magic settings) such as Dark Sun and Planescape, or alternate approaches to the game (modular options/complexity dials), even a new sub-edition that is a bit more bold.

So if I were WotC, I would keep doing what they're doing for the next few years, fleshing out the classic offerings with the planes and Dark Sun, and then take the lessons from first decade of 5E and polish it up for a revised edition, and then after keep expanding outward, with a greater range of "styles of D&D" in terms of adventures, worlds, even crunch. I would also think, at some point (maybe 2025?) a new game line of science fiction games and settings, perhaps following the Alternity approach.

So something like this:
2021-23: Flesh out "first phase" of 5E with planes, Dark Sun, perhaps a capstone FR setting book. Another Magic book or two.
2024: Revised core rulebooks.
2025+: Wider approaches to D&D, with a core stream remaining of "classic D&D" adventures. "Alternity."
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I figure it is impossible for the hypothetical Anniversary Core Books to veer too far away from the game that we have now.

For the most part, any actual changes in the core books would have to go thru the normal process of UA approval and then made official, before they would end up in the Anniversary edition.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I figure it is impossible for the hypothetical Anniversary Core Books to veer too far away from the game that we have now.

For the most part, any actual changes in the core books would have to go thru the normal process of UA approval and then made official, before they would end up in the Anniversary edition.
I think that's true to an extent, but a lot of it could be simply incorporating stuff that already went through that process and appeared in other books, be it Xanathar, Tasha, or any of the others.

But I don't think they'd announce a 50th anniversary edition until 2023, maybe late 2022. At that point they could start publishing in UA revised options for ranger, monk, sorcerer, etc, and do polls for favorite sub-classes.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I feel like they are, though? I was impressed with the cleverness of their approach in Tasha's, of just making the new chargen choices options - no formal rules change is required. There are already lots of chargen optional rules, like all the Skill variant rules. They can do the same with alignments.
I don't own Tasha's so have to take the fifth. But that's good news, I'd say.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
So... I don't know, the two biggest changes that the 5E designers wish they could change are racial options, and alignment. Beyond that however, I don't see too much "revisionism" in the recent books. They seem happy with the class, subclass system which is the core of 5E's (player) gameplay.

And I don't really think the alignment/racial changes alone are enough to merit an "Anniversary Edition." So I know that there is speculation that this 5.5 edition is happening, but I don't see why the designers or the corporate overlords would be interested in messing with their best-selling edition to such a big degree.
 


Scribe

Hero
Toast or an optional rule?

For the life of me I don't know why WotC can't take a both/and approach with some of these changes (e.g. alignment, racial ability mods, etc).
Toast. Anything else is just a half measure that will not satisfy the vocal people who are against it.

See: Tasha's 'optional' ASI rule.
 

Mercurius

Legend
So... I don't know, the two biggest changes that the 5E designers wish they could change are racial options, and alignment. Beyond that however, I don't see too much "revisionism" in the recent books. They seem happy with the class, subclass system which is the core of 5E's (player) gameplay.

And I don't really think the alignment/racial changes alone are enough to merit an "Anniversary Edition." So I know that there is speculation that this 5.5 edition is happening, but I don't see why the designers or the corporate overlords would be interested in messing with their best-selling edition to such a big degree.
I agree if we're talking a "5.5" in the literal sense (ala 3.5). But in actuality it could be (and perhaps should be) more of a "5.3."

A year or two I did a poll on this, long before Tasha's came out and talk about the anniversary had heated up. The consensus was somewhere in the 5.1 to 5.2: cosmetic changes with a few new bells and whistles, but nothing major or even moderate.

Since then, I've notice that--while I haven't repeated the poll--the consensus seems to be more in the 5.3 to 5.4 range. Still backwards compatible, but some moderate changes, revamped classes, and a few alterations (e.g. racial bonuses and alignment).

So I think the key is backwards compatibility. They can do a significant amount without breaking the connection, so to speak.

As for why the corporate overlords would want a 5.5 (or 5.3), well, their bottom line is the bottom line, and core rulebooks sell like hot cakes. I think Revised core rulebooks in the mold I'm talking about--again, incorporating stuff from the first decade of 5E, revamped classes, a few adjustments, new art--would sell through the roof.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I don't have a beef with too much of the material already in the 3 core books other than nitpicks - what I'd like is the addition of more material, particularly oriented toward the DM, to offer more instruction and guidance to running D&D. To that end, I'd like to see more emphasis on the Improvising Damage section on page 249. I'd also like to see the advice from Chapter 1 of the 4e DMG2 integrated.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I agree if we're talking a "5.5" in the literal sense (ala 3.5). But in actuality it could be (and perhaps should be) more of a "5.3."

A year or two I did a poll on this, long before Tasha's came out and talk about the anniversary had heated up. The consensus was somewhere in the 5.1 to 5.2: cosmetic changes with a few new bells and whistles, but nothing major or even moderate.

Since then, I've notice that--while I haven't repeated the poll--the consensus seems to be more in the 5.3 to 5.4 range. Still backwards compatible, but some moderate changes, revamped classes, and a few alterations (e.g. racial bonuses and alignment).

So I think the key is backwards compatibility. They can do a significant amount without breaking the connection, so to speak.

As for why the corporate overlords would want a 5.5 (or 5.3), well, their bottom line is the bottom line, and core rulebooks sell like hot cakes. I think Revised core rulebooks in the mold I'm talking about--again, incorporating stuff from the first decade of 5E, revamped classes, a few adjustments, new art--would sell through the roof.

Well, you are talking about polls here, which aren't really reflective of the actual 5E playerbase (way crunchier than most players). It would be better to poll Reddit to get an idea for actual preferences, and even then it would skew to more crunchy tastes.

I also just don't think the core books success is replicable, and that releasing new ones would cannibalize sales. I don't think most old players are going to buy new versions of their core rulebooks, and new players will buy one or the other, not both.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Well, you are talking about polls here, which aren't really reflective of the actual 5E playerbase (way crunchier than most players). It would be better to poll Reddit to get an idea for actual preferences, and even then it would skew to more crunchy tastes.

I also just don't think the core books success is replicable, and that releasing new ones would cannibalize sales. I don't think most old players are going to buy new versions of their core rulebooks, and new players will buy one or the other, not both.

I don't see how it would cannibalize sales in that they would be replacing the 2014 versions--meaning, new people would buy the 2024 versions, and the 2014 versions would no longer be published, although still usable in everything that came out after. And then you'd have a ton of old players buying the new books just for the new shiny, as well as the revisions.

There's a lot of excitement around a new edition of D&D. There was in 2014, in 2008 (for a bit, at least!), in 2000, and way back in 1989. I think it would be the same in 2024, but with the added bonus of not being a new edition because the old one failed or needed updating, but to celebrate the 50th anniversary and to take the extremely popular 5E rules to a new octave.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I don't see how it would cannibalize sales in that they would be replacing the 2014 versions--meaning, new people would buy the 2024 versions, and the 2014 versions would no longer be published, although still usable in everything that came out after. And then you'd have a ton of old players buying the new books just for the new shiny, as well as the revisions.

There's a lot of excitement around a new edition of D&D. There was in 2014, in 2008 (for a bit, at least!), in 2000, and way back in 1989. I think it would be the same in 2024, but with the added bonus of not being a new edition because the old one failed or needed updating, but to celebrate the 50th anniversary and to take the extremely popular 5E rules to a new octave.

Yeah, I just disagree. I think there's excitement here for a new edition of D&D, but I don't think that same excitement exists more broadly.

And I still don't think there's much interest on the designers side for updated core rulebooks, as I think the changes the designers are interested in wouldn't actually change the rules much, and are largely already released (alignment and Tasha's racial rules). So it would be a weird pitch to have them reprint entirely new books (and there is a cost to that) stop publishing the older best-selling books, just to implement these largely minor changes that have already happened.

I'm not saying it can't happen (I don't actually know what the designers want), just seems a little strange to me. I think they'll probably celebrate the 50th Anniversary an entirely different way, like releasing a second Tales from the Yawning Portal style book.
 

Meaning, they were successful with the game they designed, so should be hesitant to veer too far away from that, at least as far as the core rules are concerned.
Yeah I would expect changes of a 1E-2E level, not anything more. Basically very high backwards compatibility with adventures particularly.
I tend to think this is much milder among the total player base than it seems on the internet, and think WotC should be careful not to go too far in one direction or the other, and that any changes should always have "better playability" in mind (which is why, I think, the racial bonuses going away is fine, because it doesn't limit anything or stop DMs from still having them as an optional rule, but it opens up character creation so they aren't focused on race-class optimization; meaning, regardless of the politics behind it, it actually improves playability).
Given the age, gender, educational background and so on profile of D&D players, and that huge numbers seem to have come in from watching D&D on the internet, I actually think that the playerbase as whole is pretty clearly on one side of this, like the vast majority, and it's the side WotC are clearly leaning towards.
Anyhow, I think the time is ripe for 5E to take it up an octave. They've established a huge player base mostly (but not entirely) comprised of new players, a lot of whom have been playing for several years. While it made sense not to broaden the scope of D&D in the first half decade or so, I think some of these players will eventually want something more or different, be it non-traditional settings (which, since 2018, they're starting to get with the Magic settings) such as Dark Sun and Planescape, or alternate approaches to the game (modular options/complexity dials), even a new sub-edition that is a bit more bold.
Yup, though I think 1E-2E is more likely than a "sub-edition" approach because frankly people loathe sub-editions.
Yeah, I just disagree. I think there's excitement here for a new edition of D&D, but I don't think that same excitement exists more broadly.
I've been on the internet for 29 years now, and I've seen countless edition changes for various games and countless updates to TV shows and reboots and so on.

And without fail, there's always the anti-Cassandra who "just can't can't see it", who is absolutely sure that no-one is really interested in a change, who thinks Paris is a good dude and sending him to see Menelaus is definitely a good idea. But D&D is a game with a storied history of editions. D&D is a game with a young playerbase, mostly in their teens and twenties, perhaps very early 30s. A lot of them have never seen an edition change, but most or all of them will have heard about them, reading articles about the history of D&D, hearing about what Critical Role has been through, and so on. You can see this with people who are literally talking about how they just started D&D last year on reddit, asking about edition changes, and what they're like and so on, people who have only been playing D&D in 5E speculating about changes and excited for them. Why are they excited for them? Because they're young, and young people, on the whole, don't fear change, they hope for it.

What fewer people really likes is a change that invalidates everything they've paid for. But even then... you look at previous edition changes, and it looks in all cases like most people picked up the new edition, despite any amount of grousing. Player-bases typically grow on an edition-change. The sole exception was 4E and it took a monumental series of bad decisions, screw-ups, and frankly, what was basically a deus ex machina to fully create that situation, and the rules changes was easily the most extreme D&D has ever seen.

So I don't think we'll see that. Ever again. But I do think we'll see an edition change, because younger playerbase are excited by them, and as long adventures and preferably monsters retain broad compatibility (and maybe some crunch), they work well. For example, you could do an edition change like 1E-2E, and the only bits of VRGtR that would be fully invalidated might be the two archetypes. Everything else could retain broad viability (lineages might be hit, but likely a way that would be easy to convert).

Maybe you'll be the real Cassandra for once, but I'd be surprised, because they "it'll never happen" guys are always around before ediiton changes. I daresay they were before 1E-2E D&D. I know the edition warriors were, because one of the first things that happened after I started playing D&D was an older guy saying I was playing the "wrong" edition because I had 2E lol.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
And without fail, there's always the anti-Cassandra who "just can't can't see it", who is absolutely sure that no-one is really interested in a change, who thinks Paris is a good dude and sending him to see Menelaus is definitely a good idea. But D&D is a game with a storied history of editions. D&D is a game with a young playerbase, mostly in their teens and twenties, perhaps very early 30s. A lot of them have never seen an edition change, but most or all of them will have heard about them, reading articles about the history of D&D, hearing about what Critical Role has been through, and so on. You can see this with people who are literally talking about how they just started D&D last year on reddit, asking about edition changes, and what they're like and so on, people who have only been playing D&D in 5E speculating about changes and excited for them. Why are they excited for them? Because they're young, and young people, on the whole, don't fear change, they hope for it.

What fewer people really likes is a change that invalidates everything they've paid for. But even then... you look at previous edition changes, and it looks in all cases like most people picked up the new edition, despite any amount of grousing. Player-bases typically grow on an edition-change. The sole exception was 4E and it took a monumental series of bad decisions, screw-ups, and frankly, what was basically a deus ex machina to fully create that situation, and the rules changes was easily the most extreme D&D has ever seen.

So I don't think we'll see that. Ever again. But I do think we'll see an edition change, because younger playerbase are excited by them, and as long adventures and preferably monsters retain broad compatibility (and maybe some crunch), they work well. For example, you could do an edition change like 1E-2E, and the only bits of VRGtR that would be fully invalidated might be the two archetypes. Everything else could retain broad viability (lineages might be hit, but likely a way that would be easy to convert).

Maybe you'll be the real Cassandra for once, but I'd be surprised, because they "it'll never happen" guys are always around before ediiton changes. I daresay they were before 1E-2E D&D. I know the edition warriors were, because one of the first things that happened after I started playing D&D was an older guy saying I was playing the "wrong" edition because I had 2E lol.

Hey, I never said it will "never happen." An edition change will happen eventually, when the designers feel they've squeezed out all the juice on rules supplements, or when there's so much rules bloat that sales have stagnated.

But neither, in my mind, have happened. So it makes little sense to me that the designers are going to release a "5.5 Edition" simply because an anniversary is coming around. It makes zero sense from a designing perspective, and barely any sense from a business perspective (you can release a bunch of other anniversary products that make sense). There's little incentive to release a new edition when you're racking up year-after-year record growth.

And I'm in my 20s, so I can say fairly confidently that your generalizations on my generation are just that; broad generalizations.

The "New Edition Incoming," folks have been crowing since Xanathar's released, and they haven't stopped. One day they'll be right, but pinning hopes on an anniversary seems like a hope than anything built on evidence.
 


But neither, in my mind, have happened. So it makes little sense to me that the designers are going to release a "5.5 Edition" simply because an anniversary is coming around. It makes zero sense from a designing perspective, and barely any sense from a business perspective (you can release a bunch of other anniversary products that make sense). There's little incentive to release a new edition when you're racking up year-after-year record growth.
You say this, but it's happened countless times extremely successfully, and bizarre that you seem to think it hasn't. It's actually the best time to switch when you're still riding high, looking at edition changes through gaming history, especially if you're not going for a big change. If you wait for a game to start to flag or fail, and then just do a small change, it may well been as "not enough", but any big change is likely to drive away some people. Do you really want me to go through gaming history and do a top ten of edition changes or something?

As for "other anniversary products that make sense", like what? You think people give two shakes of a lamb's tail about retro adventures hardly anyone even seems to have bought (given that it literally never comes up in discussion, ever, unlike most of the WotC adventures). I mean Tales from the Yawning Portal is approaching "That's a name I haven't heard in a long time" meme levels.. I mean, evidently you do, but it seems ridiculous to me. You're going to be likely be printing "anniversary editions" of the PHB/DMG/MM anyway at that time, too. It's 50 years mate. It's not 5 or something.

I also just don't think the core books success is replicable, and that releasing new ones would cannibalize sales. I don't think most old players are going to buy new versions of their core rulebooks, and new players will buy one or the other, not both.
Saying stuff like this is just really odd and doesn't make sense, and I guess, because you're in your 20s, you have no idea that it's definitely false. I mean, good god dude, people bought 3.5E and that wasn't even an edition change, and you're here to tell us, who have seen several edition changes in D&D, and countless in other games, that people don't buy books from a new edition?! ROFL is really the only possible response to that. You seem to be extending from zealous skepticism re: a new edition to zealous skepticism re: past events here lol.

Players absolutely will buy new versions of their core rulebooks. Even in 2E they were pretty successful reprinting the the core rulebooks with new art/layout and no real rules changes, and there was literally no reason to do that.

Yes new players will buy the new one, of course they will. No-one is expecting them to buy the old one. I'm confused as to what point you think you're making with that last bit.
And I'm in my 20s, so I can say fairly confidently that your generalizations on my generation are just that; broad generalizations.
Absolutely. Individuals will be exceptions. But like a lot of broad generalizations I'd say they're broadly correct about the bulk of people playing.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
You say this, but it's happened countless times extremely successfully, and bizarre that you seem to think it hasn't. It's actually the best time to switch when you're still riding high, looking at edition changes through gaming history, especially if you're not going for a big change. If you wait for a game to start to flag or fail, and then just do a small change, it may well been as "not enough", but any big change is likely to drive away some people. Do you really want me to go through gaming history and do a top ten of edition changes or something?

As for "other anniversary products that make sense", like what? You think people give two shakes of a lamb's tail about retro adventures hardly anyone even seems to have bought (given that it literally never comes up in discussion, ever, unlike most of the WotC adventures). I mean Tales from the Yawning Portal is approaching "That's a name I haven't heard in a long time" meme levels.. I mean, evidently you do, but it seems ridiculous to me. You're going to be likely be printing "anniversary editions" of the PHB/DMG/MM anyway at that time, too. It's 50 years mate. It's not 5 or something.


Saying stuff like this is just really odd and doesn't make sense, and I guess, because you're in your 20s, you have no idea that it's definitely false. I mean, good god dude, people bought 3.5E and that wasn't even an edition change, and you're here to tell us, who have seen several edition changes in D&D, and countless in other games, that people don't buy books from a new edition?! ROFL is really the only possible response to that. You seem to be extending from zealous skepticism re: a new edition to zealous skepticism re: past events here lol.

Players absolutely will buy new versions of their core rulebooks. Even in 2E they were pretty successful reprinting the the core rulebooks with new art/layout and no real rules changes, and there was literally no reason to do that.

Yes new players will buy the new one, of course they will. No-one is expecting them to buy the old one. I'm confused as to what point you think you're making with that last bit.

Absolutely. Individuals will be exceptions. But like a lot of broad generalizations I'd say they're broadly correct about the bulk of people playing.

I've pretty much already written (repeatedly) why I disagree with all of this... but it is hilarious to me that earlier you wrote "I think 20/30 year olds are like this," then I wrote "I'm in my 20s and that's a dumb stereotype" and you replied with "Just because your 20 you can't prove I'm wrong."

Like lol, ok. And somehow my opinion that releasing a new edition on an anniversary being dumb (because pinning a new rules release on an arbitrary date is indeed, very dumb), somehow means I don't think people will buy books from a new edition ever (or ever have)... like ok, keep arguing against whoever it is you imagine I am, 'cause I'm not interested.
 

Ignoring Friday afternoon deadlines for a moment:

The Tasha's changes to classes and races (lineages? heritages? they gotta settle on a global term here) will be baked into the core, in another attempt to fix the ranger.

Strong distinctions will be made between a character's culture and their species. Cultures, religions, groups, etc., can be evil, but being evil genetically will be saved for supernatural beings like the undead, outsiders, fey, etc.

More modern monster building rules will replace early, inaccurate ones

The weakest art will be replaced, and additional art will be added throughout the books

A few of the most popular player-facing content from supplements will be added to the PHB. I would bet one or more of goblins, UA kobolds and satyrs, for instance.

New, never before seen in 5E monsters, spells, treasures and subclasses added to the core books to help entice people to buy the books again
 

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