D&D 4E What to do with 4th Edition


log in or register to remove this ad

Aldarc

Legend
Yeah, but I don't know that I want a "clone". I mean, they left the game pretty messed up. Why would I want to copy of that? No. I want to be able to clean it up and improve it. I want to be able to ditch what I don't like about it, including what I don't like about D&D. I don't even care if it's called D&D at that point. I just want a usable engine with mechanics that make the game work better. (Of course, I have ideas but it makes the old material useless, and that turns off a lot of people who may otherwise be interested. So I don't bother discussing it.)
I would love something akin to OSE but for 4e. Maybe New School Essentials (NSE)? Something that cleaned up 4e D&D - including its errata, math, and layout - and kept what was there without going wild creating new classes and races as part of the creator's idiomatic sense for the what 4e should be, which I find tends to plague a fair number of self-described 4e retroclones. I want a version of the game that acts as the blueprint.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Whoever suggested ORCUS - thank you! That is a good start on a 4e retroclone. At least it shows you the path to follow. Now you just need to make the tweaks you want @Jacob Lewis
I would have suggested it also... probably the most loyal I have found so far though a few others exist they seem to diverge much farther.

The thing is there are elements/tools that might be necessary for it to take off like
  1. Finished (last look it was close? but not far off)
  2. VTT support
  3. A Character builder or perhaps a part file that allows its stuff in the old character builder.
  4. Somebody following through and building a derived game off of it
 
Last edited:

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I would love something akin to OSE but for 4e. Maybe New School Essentials (NSE)? Something that cleaned up 4e D&D - including its errata, math, and layout - and kept what was there without going wild creating new classes and races as part of the creator's idiomatic sense for the what 4e should be, which I find tends to plague a fair number of self-described 4e retroclones. I want a version of the game that acts as the blueprint.
This makes sense. And I agree about authors wanting to inject their own idiosyncrasies. But here's the thing: which version of 4e is everyone going to expect? The original version, the Essentials version, or both?

I'm talking about classes specifically. You can argue about compatibility all you want. But a blueprint needs to set the tone, as well as the standards for everything moving forward. So is the fighter going to be the weapon master and all classes follow the same structure? Or should it be more like the knight and the slayer, which offers a simpler option for players without sacrificing its effectiveness compared to other classes? Or come up with something else?

I'm not saying it wouldn't be great to have this. But its not like other systems where everyone could largely agree on what the base game actually looks like. Such is the legacy of 4e, and it's not something I want carried over.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Essentials was compatible, so why not both? I think the suggestion of OSE as a template is a good one. Have the core engine that everyone can use, then release a classic set of classes and an essential set. If people want to do new things, they’d have a base they can use.
 

Aldarc

Legend
This makes sense. And I agree about authors wanting to inject their own idiosyncrasies. But here's the thing: which version of 4e is everyone going to expect? The original version, the Essentials version, or both?

I'm talking about classes specifically. You can argue about compatibility all you want. But a blueprint needs to set the tone, as well as the standards for everything moving forward. So is the fighter going to be the weapon master and all classes follow the same structure? Or should it be more like the knight and the slayer, which offers a simpler option for players without sacrificing its effectiveness compared to other classes? Or come up with something else?

I'm not saying it wouldn't be great to have this. But its not like other systems where everyone could largely agree on what the base game actually looks like. Such is the legacy of 4e, and it's not something I want carried over.
Here's the thing: The OSR movement hast mostly rallied around OSE as its forerunner and how it handled B/X and converted 1e D&D to B/X. If that's the case, the 4e community should be able to rally around a NSE game that was mostly modeled after 4e Original. A separate game could be made for 4e Essentials, but I would start with at least the original version with all of its math, modifiers, and the like errated. I also suspect that the 4e community would be mostly happy to have any love on the level of OSE regardless of whether it was based on 4e Original or Essentials.
 
Last edited:

Retreater

Legend
I think when it comes down to 4E Core (don't know what else to call it) vs Essentials, what should be considered... (Not necessarily in order)
1) which is the team passionate about
2) which is the fanbase most excited about
3) which would be the easiest to get new players to try
4) which would work best for remote play (since you're likely not getting a lot of people in your particular city to want to try it)
5) which could you do in the existing OGL legal parameters
6) which has the preferred math

Essentials has a lot of material, considering Heroes of Shadow and the Feywild are also in that format.
OSE used B/X as their template, but then converted the AD&D stuff to that template. I would say you should start with Essentials and then go back and add classes like the Warlord (which I don't remember being available outside the Core version.)
 

No edition of D&D has an expiration date. The fact that WotC isn't supporting it or doing anything with it doesn't prevent anyone else from doing things with it. Every D&D edition has clones of it or third party rulesets based on them. Even the edition that is likely most obscure (Holmes) has at least one retroclone. There are two exceptions to that: 5th Edition and 4th Edition. It should be kinda obvious why 5th isn't being cloned right now. But why not 4th? Simple. Too many people actively disliked 4th. If they did like it, nobody has yet concluded there is sufficient demand among its' few remaining fans to make it worthwhile to go back and do anything with it.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Here's the thing: The OSR movement hast mostly rallyed around OSE as its forerunner and how it handled B/X and converted 1e D&D to B/X. If that's the case, the 4e community should be able to rally around a NSE game that was mostly modelled after 4e Original. A separate game could be made for 4e Essentials, but I would start with at least the original version with all of its math, modifiers, and the like errated. I also suspect that the 4e community would be mostly happy to have any love on the level of OSE regardless of whether it was based on 4e Original or Essentials.

I think when it comes down to 4E Core (don't know what else to call it) vs Essentials, what should be considered... (Not necessarily in order)
1) which is the team passionate about
2) which is the fanbase most excited about
3) which would be the easiest to get new players to try
4) which would work best for remote play (since you're likely not getting a lot of people in your particular city to want to try it)
5) which could you do in the existing OGL legal parameters
6) which has the preferred math

Essentials has a lot of material, considering Heroes of Shadow and the Feywild are also in that format.
OSE used B/X as their template, but then converted the AD&D stuff to that template. I would say you should start with Essentials and then go back and add classes like the Warlord (which I don't remember being available outside the Core version.)

And now we have two different approaches with two reasonable arguments within a matter of hours, and I suspect more will be coming. For the record, I'm not opposed to either approach, but I'm also not favoring one or the other (at the moment). But I will say that it is this back-and-forth, flip-flop kind of puzzle that locks up my brain, which is part of my issue. There's too many gray areas for me to navigate personally and it doesn't make it easy for me to decide what I want.

On the one hand, I like the consistency and expansiveness of (sure let's call it) Core. And on the other, I like the completeness and minimalist approach of the Essentials line. I know I can mix them (and WotC was real adamant about that until they decided Essentials was the key), but I didn't like that. I prefer to keep things clean and not muddy the waters. I may be too rigid that way, but that's just another one of my issues.

Anyway, I don't know how OGLs actually work. I need to know what I can and can't do with it. Being vague and general with explanations doesn't help me understand it any better. I don't think we need a complete system in order to make a license operable and usable by others. We just need to standardize all the working parts and allow the innovators to innovate. Then we should see the NSEs and revised Essentials and whatever else emerge. Maybe.
 

Retreater

Legend
And now we have two different approaches with two reasonable arguments within a matter of hours, and I suspect more will be coming. For the record, I'm not opposed to either approach, but I'm also not favoring one or the other (at the moment). But I will say that it is this back-and-forth, flip-flop kind of puzzle that locks up my brain, which is part of my issue. There's too many gray areas for me to navigate personally and it doesn't make it easy for me to decide what I want.
Yeah. My strength isn't in publishing, knowing legal code. I've been primarily a module writer as far as professional involvement in the hobby is concerned.
My interest would mostly be in just trying to figure out how to play 4e again - not that I don't remember how to play it (I was running a campaign in-person before the pandemic). It's more how do you organize it, which platforms do you use for VTT, how do you find players, etc.
I think there's enough of a dedicated niche that one would be able to pool together a few decent-sized groups online.
All the other stuff, I tend to get decision paralysis.
How I work through this is I try to not think about "the rest of the hobby and every gamer around the world." If I were running a game for friends (or perhaps people dropping in at a game store), how would I do that?
Well, I'd have an adventure and some simple pregens. I would put out a list of resources players could use for their character options (and I'm usually comfortable with Core or Essentials) in the event they wanted to create their own characters. The individual sessions of D&D Encounters were designed to be played in 1-1.5 hours so I think that would be an ideal format for introductory online play. (The PDFs of the Encounters seasons are like $5 each on DMs Guild.) But if the group really gels, you could do more substantial adventures.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Yeah. My strength isn't in publishing, knowing legal code. I've been primarily a module writer as far as professional involvement in the hobby is concerned.
My interest would mostly be in just trying to figure out how to play 4e again - not that I don't remember how to play it (I was running a campaign in-person before the pandemic). It's more how do you organize it, which platforms do you use for VTT, how do you find players, etc.
I think there's enough of a dedicated niche that one would be able to pool together a few decent-sized groups online.
All the other stuff, I tend to get decision paralysis.
How I work through this is I try to not think about "the rest of the hobby and every gamer around the world." If I were running a game for friends (or perhaps people dropping in at a game store), how would I do that?
Well, I'd have an adventure and some simple pregens. I would put out a list of resources players could use for their character options (and I'm usually comfortable with Core or Essentials) in the event they wanted to create their own characters. The individual sessions of D&D Encounters were designed to be played in 1-1.5 hours so I think that would be an ideal format for introductory online play. (The PDFs of the Encounters seasons are like $5 each on DMs Guild.) But if the group really gels, you could do more substantial adventures.
I think you and I are on the same life raft (it's not even a boat at this point). If I were running games in person, this would be a non-issue (or less of one) for me. I prefer the in-person approach, but I also like the digital assistance when it is available.

Last year I was able to use Foundry on my laptop for a small group who wanted to try Starfinder. Everyone was able to connect with their own laptops and we were able to ditch the character sheets, pawns, and all the maps tiles I bought for the game. Then my main computer crashed hard and I lost everything I had been accumulating and building since the pandemic hit (and before that). I spent a week trying futiley to recover any of it. It was soul-crushing to lose so much work.

One of the nice things about using a Vtt, even with a live group, is how it alleviates a lot of the work for you. And when you have a fully-functional ruleset (and an open SRD, like Starfinder), it makes it easier on new players who can just browse and click everything. So I don't buy the "just use pen-and-paper" argument some people like to throw out there as not being a hurdle. I can walk places, too, but I'd rather have a vehicle or at least a bike to save me both time and energy.

I'll probably look into some basic options and settle for using a Vtt as a generic tabletop. I just need to stop thinking I can look at other scripts and create my own for what I want it to do. (I've done it before with Neverwinter Nights, but that was years ago. But it also took me a year to decipher hundreds of scripts and teach myself programming to do it. I don't think I can do that again.)
 

Aldarc

Legend
And now we have two different approaches with two reasonable arguments within a matter of hours, and I suspect more will be coming. For the record, I'm not opposed to either approach, but I'm also not favoring one or the other (at the moment). But I will say that it is this back-and-forth, flip-flop kind of puzzle that locks up my brain, which is part of my issue. There's too many gray areas for me to navigate personally and it doesn't make it easy for me to decide what I want.
And? Having a clone at all is better than nothing. If you are so afraid of appeasing everyone then nothing of substance will be the sole product of your worrying efforts.

On the one hand, I like the consistency and expansiveness of (sure let's call it) Core. And on the other, I like the completeness and minimalist approach of the Essentials line. I know I can mix them (and WotC was real adamant about that until they decided Essentials was the key), but I didn't like that. I prefer to keep things clean and not muddy the waters. I may be too rigid that way, but that's just another one of my issues.

Anyway, I don't know how OGLs actually work. I need to know what I can and can't do with it. Being vague and general with explanations doesn't help me understand it any better. I don't think we need a complete system in order to make a license operable and usable by others. We just need to standardize all the working parts and allow the innovators to innovate. Then we should see the NSEs and revised Essentials and whatever else emerge. Maybe.
Essentials has mostly cleaned up math and errata. It remains pretty operational. 4e Core has a huge amount of errata. I suggest that providing an updated 4e Core would provide a greater net boon to the community.
 

Retreater

Legend
Last year I was able to use Foundry on my laptop for a small group who wanted to try Starfinder. Everyone was able to connect with their own laptops and we were able to ditch the character sheets, pawns, and all the maps tiles I bought for the game. Then my main computer crashed hard and I lost everything I had been accumulating and building since the pandemic hit (and before that). I spent a week trying futiley to recover any of it. It was soul-crushing to lose so much work.
I hear ya on that. I had a laptop that had everything set up for running 4e. I had downloaded the offline character builder from 4e tools. I had Fantasy Grounds set up to do 4e (similar to Matt Colville's setup for his Dusk stream). Then my dog damaged the laptop and it went kaput.
So how I get around this (hopefully) never happening again is to store my games in the cloud. At least they're backed up on a server somewhere. I started using Roll20 at the start of the pandemic, but I've moved to Foundry (using the Forge) in recent months. I don't claim to be a tech expert, but I think I could make that happen with a little automation - even making a compendium of powers/enemies/etc that could be shared between my games.
But also being realistic from what my abilities are, I know that I'm never going to deliver the degree of automation that something like DND Beyond has, or PF2's Foundry integration, or the Charactermancer for 5e on Roll20. My career isn't in programming, and I'd rather be playing/running games than writing code. Not to say that it can't be done - I'm just not the one to do it.
Put another way, I like to collect vinyl. I can stream albums anytime I want on Spotify, and it's easy for that quick fix. But on the occasion I want to listen to a record, I get up, put on the record, flip the sides, etc. And I accept that playing 4e is like putting on vinyl.
I'll probably look into some basic options and settle for using a Vtt as a generic tabletop.
Yeah. Some of the basic features I'd want is being able to put down auras, measure distances. I don't think just "basic positioning" (like what's offered on Owlbear Rodeo) would be sufficient to how I'd play 4e.
Once the characters are created, the basis of automation could be put on Foundry. There is a 4e module, it just doesn't have a lot in the compendia. But you could add in the powers for your characters once they're selected, and then just hit the button to roll the dice.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
And? Having a clone at all is better than nothing. If you are so afraid of appeasing everyone then nothing of substance will be the sole product of your worrying efforts.

Essentials has mostly cleaned up math and errata. It remains pretty operational. 4e Core has a huge amount of errata. I suggest that providing an updated 4e Core would provide a greater net boon to the community.
Getting mixed signals here. I shouldn't worry about what everyone else wants (I'm not), but I need to provide a great boon to the community (I'm still not). But this conversation is getting off track. Let's back this up.

I agree that there needs to be a license or a core system to allow more freedom to develop, expand, and support the core 4e game. But I'm not pledging to be the one to do that. Sure, I'd like to create a core game based around it, but I'd also just like to have modern support to play the game as it is, warts and all. We don't need character builders and vtts, but it would be nice. Its definitely a want. The whole point of my argument (rant) is that everyone else's edition and system can do this, and for the most part, has it. They have that option, whereas 4e has to jump through a lot of hoops and find workarounds in order to compensate...

...and now we're coming around again full-circle to a working OGL or similar license. :cautious:

I just want to enjoy the damn game with the same options and opportunities that every other game seems to enjoy, like functional tools, digital resources, cleaned up rules, maybe even third-party support.
 

Retreater

Legend
Getting mixed signals here. I shouldn't worry about what everyone else wants (I'm not), but I need to provide a great boon to the community (I'm still not). But this conversation is getting off track. Let's back this up.
You're going to hear different opinions from different posters. No one has "the right answer."
To quote that old song "you can't please everyone, so you've gotta please yourself."
On a more positive note, I was telling my wife about this thread, and she's ecstatic about seeing 4e come back (or just to get a chance to play it again). She didn't get to play it when it was new (having entered the hobby around 5e's start), but it's her favorite edition.
So hopefully you'll see enthusiasm from people as a sign that there are fans of your preferred edition. You are not alone in your frustration.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Getting mixed signals here. I shouldn't worry about what everyone else wants (I'm not), but I need to provide a great boon to the community (I'm still not). But this conversation is getting off track. Let's back this up.
You're not getting mixed signals, as these are two separate ideas, but it does seem for some strange reason like you want to argue with me (or perhaps yourself) on this matter, so I'll leave you to be your own worst enemy. Good luck.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
You're not getting mixed signals, as these are two separate ideas, but it does seem for some strange reason like you want to argue with me (or perhaps yourself) on this matter, so I'll leave you to be your own worst enemy. Good luck.
Who's arguing? I think its obvious that I'm conflicted, but I thought we were having a discussion. So thanks? 🤷‍♂️
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
You're going to hear different opinions from different posters. No one has "the right answer."
To quote that old song "you can't please everyone, so you've gotta please yourself."
On a more positive note, I was telling my wife about this thread, and she's ecstatic about seeing 4e come back (or just to get a chance to play it again). She didn't get to play it when it was new (having entered the hobby around 5e's start), but it's her favorite edition.
So hopefully you'll see enthusiasm from people as a sign that there are fans of your preferred edition. You are not alone in your frustration.
Was I being argumentative? I thought I was just explaining my perspective (maybe poorly). I don't know what the right answer is, and I'm not really expecting one. Some real solutions would be nice. Sharing how someone else might have dealt with similar problems. I dunno. I just expect too much.

Thanks for the positive note, though! Tell your wife I'm doing the best I can. :)
 

Retreater

Legend
Was I being argumentative? I thought I was just explaining my perspective (maybe poorly). I don't know what the right answer is, and I'm not really expecting one. Some real solutions would be nice. Sharing how someone else might have dealt with similar problems. I dunno. I just expect too much.

Thanks for the positive note, though! Tell your wife I'm doing the best I can. :)
Sorry. I didn't mean to imply I thought you were being argumentative with me. I certainly didn't get that from any of our conversations on here.
Are you wanting to find a group and play 4e? Are you wanting to publish a 4e retroclone?
I don't want to offer solutions for the wrong issue and make it seem like I'm dismissing you.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Sorry. I didn't mean to imply I thought you were being argumentative with me. I certainly didn't get that from any of our conversations on here.
Are you wanting to find a group and play 4e? Are you wanting to publish a 4e retroclone?
I don't want to offer solutions for the wrong issue and make it seem like I'm dismissing you.
No, sorry. I should've been more clear. I was referring to Aldarc's remark (#56) about me seeming to want to argue with him. So I thought I'd ask for an outside perspective if I was, in fact, being argumentative and just didn't see it. I've seen some dismissive remarks already (no surprise), which I try to avoid giving more life by responding (or waiting until I have a more tempered response). But I have not gotten that from you at all. (Thanks for that!)

After posting this and getting some positive responses, I don't think I would have trouble finding a group. I'm certainly not a publisher by any stretch of the imagination (I'm game master, Jim! Not a writer!). My concern is being able to provide a suitable (and keep in mind I have high standards for myself) venue to run a 4e game online. I want to accommodate players as much as possible while making things as easy on me while I'm running games. I don't mind putting in the extra work, but I need the tools to let me do it.

Hope that makes a little more sense.
 

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top