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

I played a Warlord in 4E, but was it really all that popular?
It was only in print for a few years, but it finished middle of the pack in the one less formal L&L playtest poll that dared include it as an option, ahead of Sorcerer and Ranger, for instance. There was never a single question about it in any of the formal playtest polls, though.


Well, it's kind like the gnome effect. Sure, gnomes have never been very popular as a PC race. That's just true. But, even if only 10% of played PC's are gnomes, that means that about 1/2 of the tables out there have a gnome PC. So, if you take gnomes out of the game, then you annoy half of the groups out there. Yes, I know that's very rough back of the envelop math, of course. But, you see the point.
I guess you could call it the Warlord effect: however few or many people played a warlord, the /idea/ of anyone, anywhere, having the option to play a warlord (or an effective non-beatstick fighter, or even a beatstick with DoaM), there were enough folks out there who would be sufficiently offended by the prospect to re-ignite the edition war.


I gotta admit that while I've pretty much given up on the idea that I'll get an official warlord in 5e, it does leave a rather sour taste. This is the one clearly 4e concept. Something you can really point to as an iconic element of the game, and it got tossed to the curb, in a rather puerile manner as well. For all the talk of the "big tent" of 5e, that's probably one of my biggest grinding gears.
The 5e version of inclusion fell into the paradox of needing to include the exclusionary: there were long-time fans who would 'feel excluded' had the Warlord or been included.

And it makes it all the more irritating because it was only done to pacify edition warriors. There's no real mechanical reason to not have a warlord in the game. But, like "damage on a miss" or "HP as Meat", there's just no way that folks will let this particular bone go.
It was just critically important to avoid further edition warring. When the nerdly cult surrounding a marginal IP flames with nerdrage, the mainstream stays away. It's sunk many a franchise launch.

And, it's why a topic like this is relevant, because 5e /can't afford/ to go in the direction 4e was going, so we'll only ever get to speculate about where that might have gone.


I'm sure a Warlord will show up at some point, we are still one early days for the edition yet.
It's 5 years in. That's longer than the run of 3.0, 4e, or 4e/E+. When the gnome appeared in the PHII, 9 months in, the Monk in the PHIII and the dumbed-down Slayer in HotFK barely more than 2 years in, it was "too little too late."

Mearls put out an Alpha version of a Warlord Subclass for Fighter on his show, for instance, and it might grow into something down the line:
https://thinkdm.org/hfh/warlord-fighter/
The Warlord will never work as a fighter sub-class, the BM already illustrated that, as did that effort. The Fighter is simply too dedicated to tanky DPR to have 'room' on its chassis for a support class - and, frankly, it's too burdened by tradition in it's design. It'd have to be it's own class. Mearls handful of tactical abilities in a fighter sub-class, and BM maneuvers might be a place to start for mechanics, but they'd have to be built up to something reasonable to handle the Warlord's concept, in the context of 5e. And, in that context, support classes don't just do support, they provide tremendous power & versatility, on top of the basics.

That's a very tall order when giving /anything/ to a martial class is likely to be met with rampant nerdrage and renewed edition warring.


The Artificer isn't really up in the air, it's coming this year: Crawford said in a D&D Beyond video that the survey results for the latest round were very good, and well over the threshold for publication.
It still took 5 years to get the first new class into 5e. Psionics is up next, so, what, a Warlord in 2029?


OK ignoring the spiral we have put ourselves into. We have potential refinements on 4es multiclassing which already works, and late paragon and epic support of essentials classes to stick in that players handbook IV what else has been mentioned?
I would exclude the eClasses from consideration of how the 4e direction would have gone, because Essentials was already firmly re-oriented on the 5e direction. From Essentials, we would have eventually gotten to 5e, in some sense or some way, probably by continuing to obviate earlier 4e options with OP alternatives and general pointed lack of support, or even mention going forward.

From the 4e direction, I'd speculate that, yes, a hypothetical DMG III would include support/advice for Epic, and continued improvement to Skill Challenges. We would not have seen the MME changes to magic items, OTOH.

PHIV, presumably, would build on the Assassin, just not the way HoS did, giving it more builds but probably all using Shrowds and all AEDU. The round out the Shadow Source with the other 3 roles. the PH II and III both tossed in additional classes from prior sources, but I can't imagine there was much to scrape up after the relative debacles of Seeker & Rune Priest. But, maybe, an additional Psionic class of some sort? Like a Psychokineticist or something, for a more firmly psi striker than the Monk?
It could also depend on the setting book coming out around the same time. If it were Ravenloft, for instance, the revenant and even vampire (though, hopefully not Vampire-as-class) might make an appearance. Maybe - maybe in the PHIV, more likely in a Ravenloft supplement - the Vampire could be a sort of template, based on the hybrid mechanics but inflicted after play begins. A character inflicted with vampirism would get powers, need to drink blood to get back surges, etc - using those powers would cause the loss of existing powers and class features, until the character permanently became 'vampiric,' and the ultimate threat of losing control of the character and just becoming a monster could be there - but, he might resist or even be cured?
Actually, I could see a number of undead-afflicted but-not-quite-turned options along those lines, maybe tied into the Ravenloft theme of dark powers...?
...Or, OK, if the PHIV were riffing off a Ravenloft theme, maybe another class or two from other sources of a similarly sinister vibe? Like an Arcane "Necromancer" or Divine "Death Priest" or, conversely, "Undead Slayer" or something... a Psionic "Medium" perhaps, not sure what that'd be, probably more of a Theme, really...?
 
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Parmandur

Legend
It was only in print for a few years, but it finished middle of the pack in the one less formal L&L playtest poll that dared include it as an option, ahead of Sorcerer and Ranger, for instance. There was never a single question about it in any of the formal playtest polls, though.


I guess you could call it the Warlord effect: however few or many people played a warlord, the /idea/ of anyone, anywhere, having the option to play a warlord (or an effective non-beatstick fighter, or even a beatstick with DoaM), there were enough folks out there who would be sufficiently offended by the prospect to re-ignite the edition war.


The 5e version of inclusion fell into the paradox of needing to include the exclusionary: there were long-time fans who would 'feel excluded' had the Warlord or been included.

It was just critically important to avoid further edition warring. When the nerdly cult surrounding a marginal IP flames with nerdrage, the mainstream stays away. It's sunk many a franchise launch.

And, it's why a topic like this is relevant, because 5e /can't afford/ to go in the direction 4e was going, so we'll only ever get to speculate about where that might have gone.


It's 5 years in. That's longer than the run of 3.0, 4e, or 4e/E+. When the gnome appeared in the PHII, 9 months in, the Monk in the PHIII and the dumbed-down Slayer in HotFK barely more than 2 years in, it was "too little too late."

The Warlord will never work as a fighter sub-class, the BM already illustrated that, as did that effort. The Fighter is simply too dedicated to tanky DPR to have 'room' on its chassis for a support class - and, frankly, it's too burdened by tradition in it's design. It'd have to be it's own class. Mearls handful of tactical abilities in a fighter sub-class, and BM maneuvers might be a place to start for mechanics, but they'd have to be built up to something reasonable to handle the Warlord's concept, in the context of 5e. And, in that context, support classes don't just do support, they provide tremendous power & versatility, on top of the basics.

That's a very tall order when giving /anything/ to a martial class is likely to be met with rampant nerdrage and renewed edition warring.


It still took 5 years to get the first new class into 5e. Psionics is up next, so, what, a Warlord in 2029?


I would exclude the eClasses from consideration of how the 4e direction would have gone, because Essentials was already firmly re-oriented on the 5e direction. From Essentials, we would have eventually gotten to 5e, in some sense or some way, probably by continuing to obviate earlier 4e options with OP alternatives and general pointed lack of support, or even mention going forward.

From the 4e direction, I'd speculate that, yes, a hypothetical DMG III would include support/advice for Epic, and continued improvement to Skill Challenges. We would not have seen the MME changes to magic items, OTOH.

PHIV, presumably, would build on the Assassin, just not the way HoS did, giving it more builds but probably all using Shrowds and all AEDU. The round out the Shadow Source with the other 3 roles. the PH II and III both tossed in additional classes from prior sources, but I can't imagine there was much to scrape up after the relative debacles of Seeker & Rune Priest. But, maybe, an additional Psionic class of some sort? Like a Psychokineticist or something, for a more firmly psi striker than the Monk?
It could also depend on the setting book coming out around the same time. If it were Ravenloft, for instance, the revenant and even vampire (though, hopefully not Vampire-as-class) might make an appearance. Maybe - maybe in the PHIV, more likely in a Ravenloft supplement - the Vampire could be a sort of template, based on the hybrid mechanics but inflicted after play begins. A character inflicted with vampirism would get powers, need to drink blood to get back surges, etc - using those powers would cause the loss of existing powers and class features, until the character permanently became 'vampiric,' and the ultimate threat of losing control of the character and just becoming a monster could be there - but, he might resist or even be cured?
Actually, I could see a number of undead-afflicted but-not-quite-turned options along those lines, maybe tied into the Ravenloft theme of dark powers...?
Sure, it's been five years, yet 5E is really still starting. I don't foresee a Warlord as Base Class in any timeframe, however, as with Assassin or Illusionist, which were also Base Classes in a prior edition. A Subclass similar to Mearls proposal will probably happen sometime within the editions life cycle. As a Warlord player, I don't see that as unsatisfactory for what I was playing.
 
Sure, it's been five years, yet 5E is really still starting. I don't foresee a Warlord as Base Class in any timeframe, however, as with Assassin or Illusionist, which were also Base Classes in a prior edition.
The Illusionist & Assassin were sub-classes in the 1e PH1, and specialists and sub-classes when they appeared in a PH1 at all, thereafter. The Warlord was a full class in it's PH1 appearance.
A Subclass similar to Mearls proposal will probably happen sometime within the editions life cycle. As a Warlord player, I don't see that as unsatisfactory for what I was playing.
After a 5+ year wait, I'd find it profoundly unsatisfying.

And. It. Just. Doesn't. Work.

The Warlord would require a full class to be balanced with the other "Leaders" it was in 4e - heck, just to handle it's core support function it'd need to be a full class with more of a resource management focus than the extant 5e martial classes. And, in 5e, there's no reason to restrict it to /just/ support, either, when fully exploring the concept could be considerably broader.

But, that's speculation about 5e, not 4e. ;)
And, TBH, the 5e direction is very much away from 4e, and back towards the TSR years. I can't expect realistically anything remotely like a Warlord from 5e, Planescape, OTOH, or Spelljammer, or even Dragonlance if there are no rights issues, and any races or classes they might call for, seem entirely plausible.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
A Subclass similar to Mearls proposal will probably happen sometime within the editions life cycle. As a Warlord player, I don't see that as unsatisfactory for what I was playing.
Mearl's presentation tweaks most of the right knobs I give it that... To be seen
 

Parmandur

Legend
The Illusionist & Assassin were sub-classes in the 1e PH1, and specialists and sub-classes when they appeared in a PH1 at all, thereafter. The Warlord was a full class in it's PH1 appearance.
After a 5+ year wait, I'd find it profoundly unsatisfying.

And. It. Just. Doesn't. Work.

The Warlord would require a full class to be balanced with the other "Leaders" it was in 4e - heck, just to handle it's core support function it'd need to be a full class with more of a resource management focus than the extant 5e martial classes. And, in 5e, there's no reason to restrict it to /just/ support, either, when fully exploring the concept could be considerably broader.

But, that's speculation about 5e, not 4e. ;)
And, TBH, the 5e direction is very much away from 4e, and back towards the TSR years. I can't expect realistically anything remotely like a Warlord from 5e, Planescape, OTOH, or Spelljammer, or even Dragonlance if there are no rights issues, and any races or classes they might call for, seem entirely plausible.
Well, the Subclass ssyyatem might not be enough: but one of the upcoming developments being worked on are "alternative Class features" that are primarily about satisfying the minority report for Rangers, but perhaps that system can work for a Warlord "Kit" on the Fighter. Time will tell.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Maybe it was a mature, reasonable business decision, based on info, nothing wrong with that.
You were instructed to not post in this thread. Back in post #46.

Folks, when we say you are not to post in a thread, we mean it. Don't press your luck.
 
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Well, the Subclass ssyyatem might not be enough: but one of the upcoming developments being worked on are "alternative Class features" that are primarily about satisfying the minority report for Rangers, but perhaps that system can work for a Warlord "Kit" on the Fighter. Time will tell.
Well, sure, you swap out the d10 HD, certain fighting styles, action surge, second wind, and Extra Attack...

...or, you could start with cleric and swap out spellcasting, channel divinity, divine domain, destroy undead, divine intervention...

...or Bard and swap out Spellcasting, Bard College, magical secrets, and re-skin 'song' of rest...


...and add 6 or 8 or so Archetypes...
 
Given how sensitive 5e hp are to Con I am less certain this is vital, I think if you expect stat points that would have go into Con will go into a mental stat instead.
In the faux balance of 5e class design it's giv'n up someth'n to get someth'n, and the Warlord needs to get a lot of somethings relative to the fighter.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Well, sure, you swap out the d10 HD, certain fighting styles, action surge, second wind, and Extra Attack...

...or, you could start with cleric and swap out spellcasting, channel divinity, divine domain, destroy undead, divine intervention...

...or Bard and swap out Spellcasting, Bard College, magical secrets, and re-skin 'song' of rest...


...and add 6 or 8 or so Archetypes...
Well, no, the point of the variant Class Features (I'll call this "Kits" for now) is to work with the same Subclasses: so a "Warlord" Kit might replace a number of Fighter kill-y features for support-y features, but your could still have a Cavilar, Samurai, Champion, Battle master, etc. as a Warlord.
 
Well, no, the point of the variant Class Features (I'll call this "Kits" for now) is to work with the same Subclasses: so a "Warlord" Kit might replace a number of Fighter kill-y features for support-y features, but your could still have a Cavilar, Samurai, Champion, Battle master, etc. as a Warlord.
...ooh, even worse.

Though I was only 9/10th joking with the Bard observation. You remove spellcasting wholesale and replace it with a comparable suite of maneuvers/tactics/whatever-you-wanna-call-it-when-you-do-something-awesome-without-magic, a few other gentle tweaks with a sledgehammer, and hey, even under that proviso, you could have a Valor (Bravura) Warlord and a Lore (Strategic?) Warlord... would be pretty far from the mark, but not as far off as starting with the Fighter's tanky DPR chassis.
 

Parmandur

Legend
...ooh, even worse.

Though I was only 9/10th joking with the Bard observation. You remove spellcasting wholesale and replace it with a comparable suite of maneuvers/tactics/whatever-you-wanna-call-it-when-you-do-something-awesome-without-magic, a few other gentle tweaks with a sledgehammer, and hey, even under that proviso, you could have a Valor (Bravura) Warlord and a Lore (Strategic?) Warlord... would be pretty far from the mark, but not as far off as starting with the Fighter's tanky DPR chassis.
Another possibility, given the initial test includes a spell less Ranger with Manuvers: a spell-free Bard might fit the bill.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Another possibility, given the initial test includes a spell less Ranger with Manuvers: a spell-free Bard might fit the bill.
Aye. A spell-free, music-free bard.

A drab.

If the anagram fits, might as well put the bard out of our misery.
 
I don't think you're entirely wrong, either. The game Strike! is a pared-down 4e, with a lot of similar mechanics. However, the setting/character you choose has to fit within the combat zeitgeist or it stops making a lot of sense (at least, if you use the tactical stuff.) When 4e's PHB2 came out I looked at the various abilities for the classes with the same role...It made me wonder why they didn't just publish a list of abilities for each role and then let the players flavor as needed/desired. (Of course, the obvious answer is "To sell you more books.") I never got PHB3, but I understand it underlined the point even more, if you were looking at that way.
This is not entirely off-base, but I think you need more structure than that in order to make it reasonably straightforward for most "I just want to play the game" type folks (about 90% of all players) to get on with it. When they really want to color outside the lines, 4e is quite easy on them in terms of doing it.

However, my own 'hack' of 4e (which is now considerably its own game) has made things easier and points some ways forward. One problem is that there are some small but considerable 'bugs' in the way 4e's system works.

1) Proficiency as a bonus was a mistake, this pretty much forces you to use the weapon/implement you chose to start with, and it inherently penalizes and type of build which eschews a weapon/implement entirely. This is one place where a penalty (for non-proficiency) was appropriate. Thus being unarmed is inherently a really good option, nobody is disadvantaged for going that way!
2) The NAD/AC difference is totally bogus. This fecks up plenty of things and requires a whole slew of patches, both in terms of feats to be provided by the designers and clever build strategies by players, just to subvert. Dumb!
3) Skill bonuses should have been policed to remain exactly in step with attack bonuses. This allows any skill or attribute to simply BE an attack (or a defense). This is MUCH more flexible and opens up all sorts of design space.

Just this slight amount of re-engineering, while it is problematic to do as a house rule since it does slightly change a lot of powers and abilities/feats/etc. makes a much improved core engine.

The 4th thing I found to be useful was just getting rid of AC entirely. Make all attacks go against 'NADs' and then convert armor into a small amount of DR. This creates a nice effect where multi-attacks are suddenly a good bit less inherently desirable.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
The 4th thing I found to be useful was just getting rid of AC entirely. Make all attacks go against 'NADs' and then convert armor into a small amount of DR. This creates a nice effect where multi-attacks are suddenly a good bit less inherently desirable.
This has the added bonus of saying that you hit someone right in the nads everytime you hit with an attack.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
This is not entirely off-base, but I think you need more structure than that in order to make it reasonably straightforward for most "I just want to play the game" type folks (about 90% of all players) to get on with it. When they really want to color outside the lines, 4e is quite easy on them in terms of doing it.

However, my own 'hack' of 4e (which is now considerably its own game) has made things easier and points some ways forward. One problem is that there are some small but considerable 'bugs' in the way 4e's system works.

1) Proficiency as a bonus was a mistake, this pretty much forces you to use the weapon/implement you chose to start with, and it inherently penalizes and type of build which eschews a weapon/implement entirely. This is one place where a penalty (for non-proficiency) was appropriate. Thus being unarmed is inherently a really good option, nobody is disadvantaged for going that way!
2) The NAD/AC difference is totally bogus. This fecks up plenty of things and requires a whole slew of patches, both in terms of feats to be provided by the designers and clever build strategies by players, just to subvert. Dumb!
3) Skill bonuses should have been policed to remain exactly in step with attack bonuses. This allows any skill or attribute to simply BE an attack (or a defense). This is MUCH more flexible and opens up all sorts of design space.

Just this slight amount of re-engineering, while it is problematic to do as a house rule since it does slightly change a lot of powers and abilities/feats/etc. makes a much improved core engine.

The 4th thing I found to be useful was just getting rid of AC entirely. Make all attacks go against 'NADs' and then convert armor into a small amount of DR. This creates a nice effect where multi-attacks are suddenly a good bit less inherently desirable.
Have you ever formally shared your house ruled version of 4e? I am definitely curious to read through the product.
 

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