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4E Where was 4e headed before it was canned?

vivsavage

Explorer
I have vague recollections that WOTC had announced a Nentir Vale book and a "new" PHB that had errata-ed versions of the 4 core classes and the Warlord. Does anyone remember that? Were there other indicators as to where WOTC wanted 4e to go before deciding D&D needed a new edition?
 

the Jester

Legend
I have vague recollections that WOTC had announced a Nentir Vale book and a "new" PHB that had errata-ed versions of the 4 core classes and the Warlord. Does anyone remember that? Were there other indicators as to where WOTC wanted 4e to go before deciding D&D needed a new edition?
I think the Essentials books, along with later books like the Heroes of... books, are a good indicator of the direction they were pushing 4e. Basically, they were reducing the 'sameness' of the classes, trying to speed up combat, and bringing back a lot of the flavor that had been missing in early 4e books. (Look at how anemic the lore in the original Monster Manual was compared to the rewritten material in Monster Vault.) I think they were trying to push the game in new directions without invalidating material from earlier in the edition; they really wanted to avoid a 4.5e but were updating and revising a lot of stuff to improve play.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The most interesting direction I saw was exemplified by the Heroes of the Fae Wild it was very very flavorful and shows interesting experimentation (a flying race, a subclass that changed battle role on the fly). And is a very popular book from what I can tell for the die hard fans in spite or because of the new elements in it.

I think I have heard it called a favorite book from 4th edition by some even though it was post essentials.
 
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Mycroft

Explorer
It seemed to be going into damage control territory, for classes, as many did not like the AEDU (wizard) structure for all classes. Maybe if they had taken a bit more time to release, and not quite designed in such isolation by Heinisoo & Co., it could have been better received.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
I think... nowhere? They had a plan to go to a 5th edition at some point. They ran 4e to the end of its life and then moved on.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I have vague recollections that WOTC had announced a Nentir Vale book and a "new" PHB that had errata-ed versions of the 4 core classes and the Warlord. Does anyone remember that?
Essentials marked a violent change of direction for 4e, really, Essentials presaged some of what 5e aimed for: natural language, aesthetics like the Red Box, 'Player's Option' & 'Survival Guide' titles meant appeal to returning fans, a flood of errata 'to bring into line with the classic game' (followed by a near-moratorium on errata to actually fix balance issues), daily-less 'L' fighters & 'Thieves,' spell-accumulating 'Q' wizards, and casting rangers, in a doomed attempt to appease edition-war critics, etc... all too late (at only 2 years in), and too little (because of trying to maintain compatibility to 4e).
That included a planned Class Compendium that re-jiggered the PH classes to fit the Essentials aesthetic, which may be what you're thinking of, but it was scrapped as too-blatantly selling the same material twice (something Essentials was already doing pretty aggressively), and the modded classes-as-sub-classes released on-line (I think DDI, but could've been free).

Were there other indicators as to where WOTC wanted 4e to go before deciding D&D needed a new edition?
Prior to the Essentials bootlegger reverse, 4e seemed to be to putting out additional PH, MM, DMG, & setting products each about annually, so, from that & the direction implied by the books we'd already gotten, we might have expected:
  • A DMG III could thus have been expected, and it would have been consistent with the DMGII's focus on Paragon levels if it had focused on Epic.
  • An even-later PH IV might presumably have added a full slate of 4 Elemental or Shadow source classes (presumably Shadow, since HoS preceded HotEC), like PHIII added 4 psionic classes and PHII 4 primal classes (the 'no gridfilling' assertion notwithstanding, they filled every grid but Martial). Also, judging on the Psionics trend, you might well have seen new advancement structures beyond AEDU, though still balanced with AEDU through resource parity, like Psionics (which substituted short-rest-recharge Power Points for Encounter Powers).
  • There'd likely have been a Shadow Power & an Elemental Power before Arcane/divine/psionic/primal got Power II's - and all that and perhaps more before seeing a Martial Power III.
  • 4e MMs did not follow themes, particularly, so a MMIV wouldn't likely have been anything like Threats to Nentir Vale nor the MV.
  • They also seemed to be working their way through the world axis, there were books for the Astral Sea & Elemental Chaos, already, we could probably have expected, similar 'secrets of' books for the Shadowfell and Feywild, expanding on material in the Manual of the Planes, and probably including what non-player-facing material was in HoS and HotFw.
  • 4e was also working its way through settings, we'd already seen FR, DarkSun, & Eberron - I can't recall any indication what classic setting might've been next, but probably not the development of "Nentir Vale" we saw with Essentials, the original direction was for the 'default' PoL generic setting to remain generic. Edit: Apparently Ravenloft was next on the docket, for 2011, had things not changed direction. After that? Who knows? Maybe Greyhawk? Spelljammer (the Astral Sea evoked a fair bit of that vibe already)?
  • Finally, The VTT was sorta working by the end, so presumably, development might've continued on that and, maybe, even finally completing the promised DDI tools, putting the CB on an app, etc.
 
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Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I think... nowhere? They had a plan to go to a 5th edition at some point. They ran 4e to the end of its life and then moved on.
Yeah, 5e was announced in 2012. Only four years after 4e. In terms of edition lifespan, especially in a modern era, that’s really short. It would be like if they announced 6e last year, which seems a ridiculous notion. I’m not digging on the quality of 4e as a game, but it clearly didn’t do what they hoped it would do.

So to answer the OP, I agree with you. Nowhere seems to be the answer. They realized early on that a revision and change of perspective like essentials wasn’t enough, and a complete rewrite was needed.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Yeah, 5e was announced in 2012. Only four years after 4e. In terms of edition lifespan, especially in a modern era, that’s really short. It would be like if they announced 6e last year, which seems a ridiculous notion.
It does seem a stand-out, the shortest lived edition to date.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Essentials marked a violent change of direction for 4e, really, Essentials presaged some of what 5e aimed for: natural language, aesthetics like the Red Box, 'Player's Option' & 'Survival Guide' titles meant appeal to returning fans, a flood of errata 'to bring into line with the classic game' (followed by a near-moratorium on errata to actually fix balance issues), daily-less 'L' fighters & 'Thieves,' spell-accumulating 'Q' wizards, and casting rangers, in a doomed attempt to appease edition-war critics, etc... all too late (at only 2 years in), and too little (because of trying to maintain compatibility to 4e).
That included a planned Class Compendium that re-jiggered the PH classes to fit the Essentials aesthetic, which may be what you're thinking of, but it was scrapped as too-blatantly selling the same material twice (something Essentials was already doing pretty aggressively), and the modded classes-as-sub-classes released on-line (I think DDI, but could've been free).

Prior to Essentials the direction 4e seemed to be to putting out additional PH, MM, & DMG products almost annually.
  • A DMG III could thus have been expected, and it would have been consistent with the DMGII's focus on Paragon levels if it had focused on Epic.
  • An even-later PH IV might presumably have added a full slate of 4 Elemental or Shadow source classes (presumably Shadow, since HoS preceded HotEC), like PHIII added 4 psionic classes and PHII 4 primal classes (the 'no gridfilling' assertion notwithstanding, they filled every grid but Martial). Also, judging on the Psionics trend, you might well have seen new advancement structures beyond AEDU, though still balanced with AEDU through resource parity, like Psionics (which substituted short-rest-recharge Power Points for Encounter Powers).
  • There'd likely have been a Shadow Power & an Elemental Power before Arcane/divine/psionic/primal got Power II's - and all that and perhaps more before seeing a Martial Power III.
  • 4e MMs did not follow themes, particularly, so a MMIV wouldn't likely have been anything like Threats to Nentir Vale nor the MV.
  • They also seemed to be working their way through the world axis, there were books for the Astral Sea & Elemental Chaos, already, we could probably have expected, similar 'secrets of' books for the Shadowfell and Feywild, expanding on material in the Manual of the Planes, and probably including what non-player-facing material was in HoS and HotFw.
  • 4e was also working its way through settings, we'd already seen FR, DarkSun, & Eberron - I can't recall any indication what classic setting might've been next, but probably not the development of "Nentir Vale" we saw with Essentials, the original direction was for the 'default' PoL generic setting to remain generic.
  • Finally, The VTT was sorta working by the end, so presumably, development might've continued on that and, maybe, even finally completing the promised DDI tools, putting the CB on an app, etc.
They said at one point in the past few years that a Ravenloft project was part of precipitating the Essentials move, IIRC, along with the confusion caused by the sequential core books method.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
I think... nowhere? They had a plan to go to a 5th edition at some point. They ran 4e to the end of its life and then moved on.
No, not really: they abandoned their publishing scheme within two years due to sales troubles, and then abandoned the replacement abruptly when that didn't pan out. There was more conceptual space, including planned products.
 
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Tony Vargas

Adventurer
They said at one point in the past few years that a Ravenloft project was part of precipitating the Essentials move, IIRC, along with the confusion caused by the sequential core books method.
Yeah, the 'confusion' thing was kinda funny. I mean, I'd seen it in action - someone has just tried the game, likes it, wants the PH, walks up to the counter with a PH2 "no, that doesn't have the rules you need, get a regular PH" "Isn't this one better?" I mean, avoiding labels like PH/2/ would have saved /minutes/ of time and confusion.

But, once Essentials was out, that confusion remained, plus there being /two/ 'essential' player books, neither of which has a title that in any way implies it's for players, that were heavily redundant, and the Rules Compendium that sounds like it should be a complete game but isn't, and a basic set that was /totally/ redundant.... and 3 'essential' sets that were just cardboard tiles (and, ironically, better accessories than half the rest of the essentials line). Or, y'know, you could go in on a DDI subscription.

Well, that sure simplified things.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Pay no attention to the above edition warring rhetoric.
It is part of a Cold War that has been waged since 2012: vs. 5th Ed; right.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Yeah, the 'confusion' thing was kinda funny. I mean, I'd seen it in action - someone has just tried the game, likes it, wants the PH, walks up to the counter with a PH2 "no, that doesn't have the rules you need, get a regular PH" "Isn't this one better?" I mean, avoiding labels like PH/2/ would have saved /minutes/ of time and confusion.

But, once Essentials was out, that confusion remained, plus there being /two/ 'essential' player books, neither of which has a title that in any way implies it's for players, that were heavily redundant, and the Rules Compendium that sounds like it should be a complete game but isn't, and a basic set that was /totally/ redundant.... and 3 'essential' sets that were just cardboard tiles (and, ironically, better accessories than half the rest of the essentials line). Or, y'know, you could go in on a DDI subscription.

Well, that sure simplified things.
When it come to purchases, minutes can be make or break. And there isn't friendly locals in the Amazon check out screen.

It's obviously not going to be a big problem for most people, but in the scales of sales WotC is aiming at, that confusion hurts their customer experience, which in the not very long run equals lost money and inhibited growth.

Essentials probably did make the problem worse: hence the complete end of the line, and going back to the drawing board.

Checked my memory a bit, there was a Ravenloft setting book set for Q4 2011, that never happened: I do recall Mearls talking about working on that product being a turning point, but it seems it was for "we need 5E" rather than for Essentials.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
When it come to purchases, minutes can be make or break. And there isn't friendly locals in the Amazon check out screen.

It's obviously not going to be a big problem for most people, but in the scales of sales WotC is aiming at, that confusion hurts their customer experience, which in the not very long run equals lost money and inhibited growth.

Essentials probably did make the problem worse: hence the complete end of the line, and going back to the drawing board.

Checked my memory a bit, there was a Ravenloft setting book set for Q4 2011, that never happened: I do recall Mearls talking about working on that product being a turning point, but it seems it was for "we need 5E" rather than for Essentials.

Don't bother, man; when you know the deal is crap.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Checked my memory a bit, there was a Ravenloft setting book set for Q4 2011, that never happened: I do recall Mearls talking about working on that product being a turning point, but it seems it was for "we need 5E" rather than for Essentials.
Sounds plausible. They were going through settings about 1/year or so. So add Ravenloft to the 'could have been' list, had 4e kept it's original direction...
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Prior to the Essentials bootlegger reverse, 4e seemed to be to putting out additional PH, MM, DMG, & setting products each about annually, so, from that & the direction implied by the books we'd already gotten, we might have expected:
  • A DMG III could thus have been expected, and it would have been consistent with the DMGII's focus on Paragon levels if it had focused on Epic.
Primary expected and missing material for the edition I think - right there.

  • An even-later PH IV might presumably have added a full slate of 4 Elemental or Shadow source classes (presumably Shadow, since HoS preceded HotEC), like PHIII added 4 psionic classes and PHII 4 primal classes (the 'no gridfilling' assertion notwithstanding, they filled every grid but Martial). Also, judging on the Psionics trend, you might well have seen new advancement structures beyond AEDU, though still balanced with AEDU through resource parity, like Psionics (which substituted short-rest-recharge Power Points for Encounter Powers).
I think there is some late paragon and epic player facing material is also not there which might have shown up in a subsequent PHB

  • There'd likely have been a Shadow Power & an Elemental Power before Arcane/divine/psionic/primal got Power II's - and all that and perhaps more before seeing a Martial Power III.
And I am a roleplayer I can pretend a Martial Power III might have been possible ;)

  • 4e MMs did not follow themes, particularly, so a MMIV wouldn't likely have been anything like Threats to Nentir Vale nor the MV.
  • They also seemed to be working their way through the world axis, there were books for the Astral Sea & Elemental Chaos, already, we could probably have expected, similar 'secrets of' books for the Shadowfell and Feywild, expanding on material in the Manual of the Planes, and probably including what non-player-facing material was in HoS and HotFw.
  • 4e was also working its way through settings, we'd already seen FR, DarkSun, & Eberron - I can't recall any indication what classic setting might've been next, but probably not the development of "Nentir Vale" we saw with Essentials, the original direction was for the 'default' PoL generic setting to remain generic. Edit: Apparently Ravenloft was next on the docket, for 2011, had things not changed direction. After that? Who knows? Maybe Greyhawk? Spelljammer (the Astral Sea evoked a fair bit of that vibe already)?
Darksun & Eberron were both good material

  • Finally, The VTT was sorta working by the end, so presumably, development might've continued on that and, maybe, even finally completing the promised DDI tools, putting the CB on an app, etc.
I do like to think something akin to the HotFW would still have happened...
 
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Mycroft

Explorer
Non-Grandma friendly terminology removed. You might want to rethink your rhetoric.
 
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Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I think there is some late paragon and epic player facing material is also not there which might have shown up in a subsequent PHB
Entirely possible, had the line continued for a number of years people'd've inevitably been playing Epic (heck, people are, now), and, since those levels actually work, there'd've been some real interest.

And I am a roleplayer I can pretend a Martial Power III might have been possible ;)
In the alternate timeline where 4e's sales goal was less than the size of the total industry, and the lead programmer was well-adjusted & decided to port to android apps, and the VTT was on-time, and nobody much fretted da Math let alone edition-warred, and the economy didn't implode, and an OGL/SRD was released concurrent with the PH, and KotSF didn't suck quite as hard...
… sure, it'd be coming out right about now, OK, maybe it'd've been as early as 2015 ...

...but it still wouldn't have a martial controller. That could only happen in a /perfect/ world...
...and couldn't happen in a perfect world because they wouldn't even have ever invented fighting.


Darksun & Eberron were both good material
...for setting I never cared for... actually, that's not fair... I never much cared for published settings, period...

I do like to think something akin to the HotFW would still have happened...
I'd think so, but probably in a Plane Above/Below format, like "The Otherworld: Secrets of the Feywild" or something.
 

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