View Full Version : Running my first 4e game

2009-01-12, 05:40 PM
My little sister and her friends (12 yrs old) want me to DM for them. The problem is none of them have played higher than 2e which I can't stand. I have the choice between 3.5 (which I usually play) and 4e (which I've never played). I thought "this is a great opportunity to try out 4e!". I have the first 3 books and a homebrewed world I use for 3.5. I don't really know where to start with an adventure, does the almighty playground have any advice on making adventures that is different from 3.5 for level 1?

Inyssius Tor
2009-01-12, 05:49 PM
Read the Player's Handbook. Thoroughly. You don't have to memorize the powers or anything, but skim over them to see what they're like. The game is very different from 3.5.

at first level, 4E heroes are totally bad-ass.
you can throw a ton of monsters at them.
Read the encounter construction chapters of the DMG. They work marvellously well. The Skill Challenge parts have been completely rewritten in the errata, but page 42 is a really excellent piece of work.
Advise your players to start with a 16 or better in their primary stat.
Don't throw monsters that are more than five levels higher than the party's level at your party.
Needlefang drake swarms can reduce the tarrasque to a skeleton in seconds. Crazy little bastiches.

2009-01-12, 05:58 PM
Take care building encounters, making sure you have a mix of roles. Single monster type battles get quite boring pretty quickly, and tend to be a bit too easy to boot.

Do not use Needlefang Drake Swarms or Fire Beetles. Both are ludicrously dangerous for their level; 2 of either will wipe an average party.

Other than that, relatively generic advice is good, as is Tor's advice.

2009-01-12, 07:05 PM
You have all three books? Good, because there's a starter adventure in the DMG called "Kobold Keep". I've run it several times now, both solo (to try and figure out the rules) and with a couple of different gaming groups. The last encounter is pretty scary; both of the 'real' groups I ran were able to finish it, the second one with a couple of casualties (which aren't full-blown deaths).

Given the age of your participants, I'd pre-make their characters as much as possible. Depending on how many of them are playing, you may need to pad the group out to 4 or 5 members. You'll want a leader (cleric or warlord), defender (fighter or paladin -- swordmage if the Forgotten Realm Player Guide is included), striker (rogue, ranger, or that other class) for the group at minimum. You'll probably want a wizard (the lone controller) as well. "Kobold Keep" is built for 5 PC's.

Other advice? Roleplay liberally. 4th Ed has placed a significant amount of out-of-combat elements outside the dice & character sheet -- use this as a strength instead of a weakness.

Use minions sparingly, but do use them. Minions are were the wizard class in particular shine, so if you're skipping them the wizard will look weak.

If you can, "self run" Kobold Keep even if you don't plan on using it. I found it did wonders for my knowledge of the system and kept me from embarrassing myself in front of players.

Try to learn 4th Ed as a new system instead of "relearning" it from 3.x. When running it with the second group, this was a noticeable hurdle. It might actually be easier for your audience than my second one :smallredface:

Yes, it will cost prep time but one strength of pre-generating the characters will be that you can make Action Cards for everyone. I just cut 3x5 index cards in half and filled out everything I could (instead of saying an attack was Dex vs Fort and did 2[w]+Dex damage, for example, I put +9 versus Fort (adding in all Dex and proficiency bonuses) and did 2d6+4 damage.

2009-01-12, 10:55 PM
Thanks much for advice. It is finals week so I can't really pre-make characters, but they're bright kids anyways. I'm thinking a simple "goblins stole an artifact, go get it back" plotline because it is simple and has multiple ways to accomplish such a goal. I have read through the encounter building section and now have an understanding of that.

Lord Herman
2009-01-13, 02:38 AM
AFAIK, the Character Builder (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/insider/characterbuilder) beta is still open to non-subscribers. You can build characters of levels 1-3 with it. You could use it to pre-build their characters; it's very quick and intuitive, and it even makes printable power cards.

2009-01-13, 01:22 PM
That may be a good idea.

Another question: Can you create a BBEG with class levels the way you could in 3.5?

2009-01-13, 01:32 PM
There are templates you can apply to monsters that give them class abilities.

You do not, in general, build opponents the way you build PCs. Reasons:
First, PCs are the build-effort of a player over the campaign. Opponents are only one piece of the many parts DMs build over the campaign. Second, PCs have build in multiple-encounter-per-day resource management -- opponents often don't.

So Opponents are balanced around "an opponent for one encounter", use simplified construction rules (instead of many different sources of modifiers that PCs use, their attack and defense modifiers are based off of their level. The result is often similar), have more HP, do a bit less damage per hit, are constructed around different roles than PCs are (Skirmisher, Controller, Soldier, Brute, Artillery, Leader as a sub-role), etc.

The net effect is that you can build a balanced enemy L 10 encounter faster than you can build a party of L 10 adventurers -- heck, faster than you build a L 10 character. As the party goes through 4 such encounters per day, ~10 per level, this is a good thing.

Note that the templates are not perfect. It takes some skill to work out how much you should boost a monster when you turn them into an elite or solo, beyond the template-based approach.

2009-01-17, 06:25 PM
I just wanted to post up here that the game occurred this afternoon, and though they only got 1 day in, my impression of 4e is a very good one. They didn't really understand that they could use at will powers every turn if they wanted, and I don't know why. Anyways, thanks for your help guys, I appreciate it.

2009-01-17, 06:40 PM
I just wanted to post up here that the game occurred this afternoon, and though they only got 1 day in, my impression of 4e is a very good one. They didn't really understand that they could use at will powers every turn if they wanted, and I don't know why. Anyways, thanks for your help guys, I appreciate it.
"The green ones are free!" is a hard concept to relate for some reason?

2009-01-17, 10:29 PM
Yeah, I dunno. I said that pretty much word for word, but I guess they were still expecting something closer to 2e.