D&D 4E What to do with 4th Edition

glass

(he, him)
If I were redesigning the system, I would sell heroic tier as the base sytem and each tier after as an expansion. Most campaigns never get past level 10, so why sell the whole game to everyone that goes beyond that?
I feel like that would be a self-fullfilling prophecy. Not being included in the base game would mean fewer people would play it, which would mean even less support, which would mean even fewer people would play it, and so on.....

_
glass.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
What if we went with multiple simplified classes instead of big tent pole classes?

I’ve been kicking around this idea in my mind for a while where you have a bunch of simplified class that can fit on a few pages and only cover 10 level, then at level 10 you pick up a Paragon Path and at level 20 an Epic Destiny, each of them would thus be independent and you’d only have to worry about that one part of your progression? Some classes would have a few choices, while some you just give you a specific thing every level you can choose a thing.

Basically, so that, once you’ve picked your archetype, it’s easier to level up and you don’t need to look through a ton of books? And multiclassing can be done through swapping pieces or creating bespoke classes.

Other points of simplification I would do is make it so you can’t ever have more than 1 reaction power beyond the standard Opportunity Attack and I would replace Utilities by a standard list of Skill Powers that everybody picks from. Reaction would basically be like Utility in that they’re class dependent and you’d pick from a few options. You wouldn’t be able to rack up a bunch of them like in 4e Core.

Just random musing is all.



We could create a new design of easy-to-read blocks.
You should check out Shadow of the Demon Lord (and eventually Shadow of the Weird Wizard). Across 10 levels, a character will pick a Novice Path, an Expert Path, and a Master Path. However, a lot of the math is actually flattened.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
The two big problems I've noticed.

1. Purists basically want a compatible clone of 4E. Even if legal that's 1000 odd pages some poor bastard has to write it. Even if you had 5 people that's about 200 pages each. For free. That's to many logistics wise.

2. To many chieftains not enough indians.

What I would do is a stripped down (level 1-5, 4-8 classes) foundation. Use an existing version of D&D or d20 and add in some sort of bounded accuracy.

If you build your foundation it's a starting point doesn't matter if it's missing a heap of stuff that can come later.

You could also look at Pathfinder or Star Wars Saga Edition for ideas.

I would also revamp and simplify the classes. Probably make the powers universal by source and the actual classes modify what you can do with them. Rangers and Tempest fighters could use the same powers the difference is via the class.

This is mostly to reduce feat and power bloat and get something playable done.

In my clone which was kind of advanced B/X using elements of 3E and 4E I actually used the 4E engine to power it but not a single 4E class, power source or anything like that. You could easily gut 5E or whatever of its skeliton and hang a 4E retro game in that (or B/X or whatever).

Try and produce something like Basic Fantasy a clone of B/X level 1-20 clocks in at 100 pages. Less is more espicially the amount of work one has to do. Being a purist is one thing but it won't write anything.
Sure.

Except now you're making a different, new game. If you want to start a cohesive, vibrant community around 4e going forward I don't see how making 13th Age part 2 is going to achieve that. Where's the evergreen 13th Age community? We hear alot from them?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Sure.

Except now you're making a different, new game. If you want to start a cohesive, vibrant community around 4e going forward I don't see how making 13th Age part 2 is going to achieve that. Where's the evergreen 13th Age community? We hear alot from them?

It's been ten years since 4E went out of print.

If someone bothered starting writing back then all they have to do is write 1/3rd of a page per day to clone 4E. A small team only has to do two pages per month.

I'm guessing no one did.

And you can't actually clone 4E exactly.

So either produce something or spend the next ten years expecting someone else to do something.

That's your options. That 1000 pages that's only the core rules. Hence why I think you want to condense that if you want anything beyond the bare minimum.

That's how OSR did it started small snowballed from there. To many chiefs not enough Indians.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
That's how OSR did it started small snowballed from there. To many chiefs not enough Indians.
Except it didn't really.

The ball "got rolling" in the sense that Necromancer published some 3e modules with 1st edition design elements and Castles & Crusades, but the real OSR didn't start until OSRIC came out. That was the big splash. While it wasn't an "exact" restatment of AD&D (there were some minor changes to shield it from possible legal repercussions, since nobody had tested the OGL in this way before) it's like, 99% the old game. The target doesn't have to be complete 100% verisimilitude, but it's got to be pretty close. You want people to recognize the old game, keep backwards compatibility with existing 4e stuff and also immediately create a market for more 4e stuff that can work for people who play the old original game or this new game you just made.

And yeah, there is a lot of material but it doesn't have to be all done at once. You don't have to put all the PHBs in one book at one time, for example. Not going to lie and say it isn't alot of work.

So either produce something or spend the next ten years expecting someone else to do something.
Very true.

The fact that somebody hasn't, and the lack of a prominent 4e community in the years since its discontinuation I don't think are unrelated phenomena.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Except it didn't really.

The ball "got rolling" in the sense that Necromancer published some 3e modules with 1st edition design elements and Castles & Crusades, but the real OSR didn't start until OSRIC came out. That was the big splash. While it wasn't an "exact" restatment of AD&D (there were some minor changes to shield it from possible legal repercussions, since nobody had tested the OGL in this way before) it's like, 99% the old game. The target doesn't have to be complete 100% verisimilitude, but it's got to be pretty close. You want people to recognize the old game, keep backwards compatibility with existing 4e stuff and also immediately create a market for more 4e stuff that can work for people who play the old original game or this new game you just made.

And yeah, there is a lot of material but it doesn't have to be all done at once. You don't have to put all the PHBs in one book at one time, for example. Not going to lie and say it isn't alot of work.


Very true.

The fact that somebody hasn't, and the lack of a prominent 4e community in the years since its discontinuation I don't think are unrelated phenomena.

I don't think the numbers are there either. Failing that the dedication hell Gary wrote the 1E dmg in 2 years.

You can't really do a 4E OSRIC though duevto the gsl.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
You can't really do a 4E OSRIC though duevto the gsl.
Right. Which is why it would have to be restated under the OGL. Which is alot of work, agreed. You'd have to strip it of product identity (which you'd have to do anyway under the OGL too) and then restate the mechanics differently enough to not be a copy and paste, and then while you're at it would incorporate the errata and fixed monster math etc. That's a real tall order, and probably why nobody has done this. I mean, I get that nobody wants to do that for years to end up with a game that isn't really "yours" in the traditional sense.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I feel like that would be a self-fullfilling prophecy. Not being included in the base game would mean fewer people would play it, which would mean even less support, which would mean even fewer people would play it, and so on.....
Who or what's not being included? Higher level play? Not everyone makes it to those levels. This became more apparent late in the 4e cycle when WotC started refocusing more on Heroic tier and never got around to more Epic stuff. Almost everyone begins with lower levels. That is how they learn the game, and is the natural starting point before reaching higher levels, which usually takes a long time.

So why have all that late-game material taking up space in the base game when a) no one is going to have a use for it when they start playing, b) may never have a use for it if their games never take them past a certain level, and c) that space could be reclaimed to provide more support within the tier most people will be playing? No one is going to cry "where's the rest of the game?" any more than they already do. But that's because they feel as if D&D isn't complete unless it includes everything they've ever seen, read, or want from anything ever published for it.

And may I remind you, this approach is neither new or unpopular. :cool:
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Jer

Legend
Supporter
If I were redesigning the system, I would sell heroic tier as the base sytem and each tier after as an expansion. Most campaigns never get past level 10, so why sell the whole game to everyone that goes beyond that? Focus on the heroic tier for your entry level and casual players. That's nearly everyone. Then, for the long-term, dedicated crowd and advanced players, sell the next bundles for Paragon and Epic level play. Each one builds on the previous set.
I thought at the time that it was a mistake to take the game to level 30 and also leave certain classes/races out of the core book. If they'd released a game through level 20 and included all of the the core classes and races that everyone wanted to see, I think there would have been less backlash at release.
 

Retreater

Legend
I thought at the time that it was a mistake to take the game to level 30 and also leave certain classes/races out of the core book. If they'd released a game through level 20 and included all of the the core classes and races that everyone wanted to see, I think there would have been less backlash at release.
From my angle, the level 20-30 tier was basically just the equivalent of like 15-20th levels in previous editions. All the same spells, powers, class abilities, etc., were spread out to levels 20-30. So it was just a naming contrivance. Again, just my opinion.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
From my angle, the level 20-30 tier was basically just the equivalent of like 15-20th levels in previous editions. All the same spells, powers, class abilities, etc., were spread out to levels 20-30. So it was just a naming contrivance. Again, just my opinion.
Right - they spread it out more, but it took up a lot of page space and meant they had to cut other things. It's not that the design is bad, and the math works out so I can see why they'd do it that way, it's just that the choice to do that and not include a Druid or a Barbarian in the PHB was in retrospect a bad idea IMO.
 

Eric V

Hero
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.

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.
For whatever it's worth, my cousin and I (mostly him) have worked on a pretty decent 4e framework for MapTool. I have campaign files for Thunderspire Labyrinth, Madness at Gardmore Abbey, Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress and a TON of tokens; it can work pretty well, though obviously not as pretty as Foundry.

The level of automation is pretty decent; most information can be kept on the tokens themselves.
 

Undrave

Hero
I would also revamp and simplify the classes. Probably make the powers universal by source and the actual classes modify what you can do with them. Rangers and Tempest fighters could use the same powers the difference is via the class.
You know how in later books they added the Rattling and Invigorating keywords? When you hit with a Rattling Power, and you’re trained in Intimidate, you inflict a penalty to the target, and when you hit with an Invigorating power while you are trained in Endurance, you gain temp HP… If you have the right ‘fighting style’ so to speak.

I think it’s a really cool concept that needs expension, but I would also simplify it. Instead of having specific keywords I’d just put the skill as a keyword in the power itself and simply have different ‘style’ that explain what goes on. You could even have stuff like Martial power with the ‘Arcana’ keyword and if you have the right style and skill training(as a class feature or, more likely, a feat) it makes the damage you inflict with that power magical, for exemple. Maybe Nature or Survival makes you better at hunting animals so powers with those skills as keywords double their damage against Beasts. I guess it wouldn't work for ALL skills, but it would allow for interesting designs I think.
 

Undrave

Hero
I think I would streamline everything that last more than 'until your next turn' to use the same 'duration' dice. At the end of your turn you roll a d20, if you roll above 10, you remove a negative condition (of your choice) from your character, but if you roll 10 or below, you must remove a positive condition. And every long term, temporary, numerical buff would be either a +2 or a -2 so you can just use counters to keep track.
 

Undrave

Hero
Healing surges were underutilised as a built-in resource management tool for players powers and abilities.
I wonder if we could use Healing Surges as a stamina system, and have it fuel powers? Instead of being able to use a power 'once per encounter' you need to spend a Healing Surge to use it. Daily on the other hand drain THREE healing surges worth of stamina because of the exertion.

This would make it a more impactful balancing act. Frontliner would have to judge if they should inflict massive damage, or keep surges in their back pocket in case they get hurt, and the back row folks would normally have less surges to begin with and would have to trust their front liners can keep them safe.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Except now you're making a different, new game. If you want to start a cohesive, vibrant community around 4e going forward I don't see how making 13th Age part 2 is going to achieve that.
What if "starting a cohesive, vibrant community around 4e" isn't the right goal? If you're reading through this thread and following other discussions, sites, discord channels, etc, it's fairly obvious that everyone has a lot of different ideas about what a "clone" should (or should not) look like. No one can even agree what to do about the system in its current state. Yeah, everybody's got ideas. But who's going to decide which idea works best for everyone else, or not challenge it?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I don't want a cohesive and vibrant community (as much as one could possibly hope for, anyway). But a better approach could be not to recreate 4e. Revise it and make it better, something that everyone can get behind without the overwhelming baggage that comes with it. Even with a clean OGL, we may never get rid of the arguments, expectations, and purist ideas that prevents us from doing things better.

If anything, we should look closer at 13th Age as an example (but not as a substitution). The first thing most people associate with 13th Age is "spiritual successor of 4e". I've seen it. Its not even close; just closer than other DnD-clones, and that's enough for most. Either it tries too hard to be like 4e without being 4e, or it can't shake the "spiritual successor" mantle that others have put there. So 4e fans aren't really interested because its not 4e enough, and non-4e fans aren't interested because its too close to 4e. (No disrespect or shame is intended towards the 13th Age fans who think that its just right!)

I lost my train of thought. There may be more coming later.
 

glass

(he, him)
You can't really do a 4E OSRIC though duevto the gsl.
Of course you can. You cannot do it under the GSL of course, but you could not do anything under 1e's open licence either because it did not have one at all. You would do 4e using the OGL, SRD precedents, and rewriting, in exactly the same way OSRIC did 1e.

From my angle, the level 20-30 tier was basically just the equivalent of like 15-20th levels in previous editions. All the same spells, powers, class abilities, etc., were spread out to levels 20-30. So it was just a naming contrivance. Again, just my opinion.
That is mostly true, but not universally so IMNSHO (in both directions). On the one hand, standard action point-to-point teleport came online at about 29th level, which was much higher level than in previous editions even taking into account the level range being multiplied by 1.5. OTOH, there was nothing much like the "once per day when you die" ED powers in previous editions at any level.

I wonder if we could use Healing Surges as a stamina system, and have it fuel powers? Instead of being able to use a power 'once per encounter' you need to spend a Healing Surge to use it. Daily on the other hand drain THREE healing surges worth of stamina because of the exertion.

This would make it a more impactful balancing act. Frontliner would have to judge if they should inflict massive damage, or keep surges in their back pocket in case they get hurt, and the back row folks would normally have less surges to begin with and would have to trust their front liners can keep them safe.
IME and IMNSHO, making your "do fun stuff" resource the same as you "do not die" resource just leads to a lot less "fun stuff" happening. Also, your proposal basically ends in-combat healing. There is no way any leader is going to be able to activate their * Word powers more than a couple of times per day. EDIT: Your idea regarding the generalised Skill keyword is great, though.

ETA: Missed a bit:

And may I remind you, this approach is neither new or unpopular. :cool:
May I remind you that while B apparently sold gangbusters, I not so much, to the point that is was completely redesigned rather than reprinted when the rest of BECM were compiled into the RC.

_
glass.
 
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Undrave

Hero
IME and IMNSHO, making your "do fun stuff" resource the same as you "do not die" resource just leads to a lot less "fun stuff" happening. Also, your proposal basically ends in-combat healing. There is no way any leader is going to be able to activate their * Word powers more than a couple of times per day.
Yeah I see what you mean. How about you get 1 Encounter power for free per encounter, and 1 Daily power for free per day, and you get to choose to use more by spending Surges?
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I wonder if we could use Healing Surges as a stamina system, and have it fuel powers? Instead of being able to use a power 'once per encounter' you need to spend a Healing Surge to use it. Daily on the other hand drain THREE healing surges worth of stamina because of the exertion.

This would make it a more impactful balancing act. Frontliner would have to judge if they should inflict massive damage, or keep surges in their back pocket in case they get hurt, and the back row folks would normally have less surges to begin with and would have to trust their front liners can keep them safe.
I think @glass touched on this a bit, but it is an idea I am working with.

First, let's rename it Heroic Surges (or Surges, for short). We're doing more than healing now, and "healing surges" is implying that it only does one specific thing. Its a wonder no one ever thought to do anything more with them.

I wouldn't charge for Encounter powers for a couple reasons:
  1. Characters typically have up to 2-4+ encounter powers per encounter. If you have a typical 8-10 encounters per adventuring day, you're gonna need to let the characters have a lot more surges, or allow them to replenish them quickly.
  2. Encounter powers don't really need to be managed. They're already limited to once each encounter, which also makes it easy for everyone to keep track.
Daily powers, on the other hand, have much less frequency. And many have complained that it is too limited and too sacred to use. They're also tedious to keep track of, especially when it takes several sessions to complete a day's worth of encounters. (DM: Didn't you use that daily two weeks ago against the dragon? Player: We're still in the same day?! I thought we long rested last week...)

I'd probably keep it reasonable, like 1 surge per tier (i.e. a daily power of level 1-10 cost 1 surge, etc.). But I would also allow for more daily uses if the player was willing to spend his surges. That gives the player more option (fun!) without forcing a life-death decision (not fun). The trick is to make sure all classes have enough surges (or has the ability to replenish them) so they have enough for the expected number of uses for daily powers and healing. That way, if the player chooses more power at the risk of not being able to heal before a long rest, its a strategic choice. (Or a gamble, which some players also enjoy.)

Since I'm looking at possibly replenishing surges during the adventure day, I could use milestones the same way that Action Points are earned. (And I'd really like to incorporate Action Points into that as well, but that would require some more thinking and finesse... :unsure:)
 

Undrave

Hero
I think @glass touched on this a bit, but it is an idea I am working with.

First, let's rename it Heroic Surges (or Surges, for short). We're doing more than healing now, and "healing surges" is implying that it only does one specific thing. Its a wonder no one ever thought to do anything more with them.

I wouldn't charge for Encounter powers for a couple reasons:
  1. Characters typically have up to 2-4+ encounter powers per encounter. If you have a typical 8-10 encounters per adventuring day, you're gonna need to let the characters have a lot more surges, or allow them to replenish them quickly.
  2. Encounter powers don't really need to be managed. They're already limited to once each encounter, which also makes it easy for everyone to keep track.
Daily powers, on the other hand, have much less frequency. And many have complained that it is too limited and too sacred to use. They're also tedious to keep track of, especially when it takes several sessions to complete a day's worth of encounters. (DM: Didn't you use that daily two weeks ago against the dragon? Player: We're still in the same day?! I thought we long rested last week...)

I'd probably keep it reasonable, like 1 surge per tier (i.e. a daily power of level 1-10 cost 1 surge, etc.). But I would also allow for more daily uses if the player was willing to spend his surges. That gives the player more option (fun!) without forcing a life-death decision (not fun). The trick is to make sure all classes have enough surges (or has the ability to replenish them) so they have enough for the expected number of uses for daily powers and healing. That way, if the player chooses more power at the risk of not being able to heal before a long rest, its a strategic choice. (Or a gamble, which some players also enjoy.)

Since I'm looking at possibly replenishing surges during the adventure day, I could use milestones the same way that Action Points are earned. (And I'd really like to incorporate Action Points into that as well, but that would require some more thinking and finesse... :unsure:)
Yeah, that makes sense!

Personally I'd reduce the number of Encounter powers you can KNOW while keeping the same number of uses. Sorta like 'encounter slots' if you wish. I think it would reduce the decision paralysis during the fights if your options are slightly more narrow and if you miss with your Encounter you really needed to land, you can just try again.
 

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