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Splodge
2010-12-08, 05:32 PM
Currently, the group that I play with regularly has always been a stalwart 3.5 group. We played 3.0 together, and then went up to 3.5.

However, we will soon be joined by some new blood will be coming in, who have been weaned on 4th Ed.

We [the original group] did originally have a go with 4th when it first came out, but the MMO-esque system of cooldowns and the lack of any real non-combat spells or abilities didn't really entice us to move with the times.

Anyway, we're going to run a 4th Ed campaign, and I'm DMing.

It's been 2 years since I touched 4th Ed, so any tips on how to cope with the inevitable culture-shock?

RebelRogue
2010-12-08, 05:42 PM
Don't assume too much about how the small nuts and bolts of the rules work. Some of it is the same, but some have changed, like reach vs. threatened areas, what provokes an AoO, what a save is. And resist the urge to house-rule stuff right away because it feels 'wrong' to you. Embrace the new rules before you play around with them. Don't expect to be able to play analogs of convoluted 3.5 builds - keep it simple(r); don't make hybrid characters at first (or for you, disallow it as DM), even though you may feel tempted.

Apart from that: just relax and have fun. It's not all that hard :smallsmile:

Eorran
2010-12-08, 05:42 PM
A couple of things that can help:

Don't try to re-create a character from a previous edition; I've found that to be a singularly frustrating exercise, since the characters simply don't map well from one system to the other.

Try to persuade your players to pick the classes that were weakest or non-existent in earlier editions. I started 4e with a Warlord, and thought it was awesome. The player who started with a Wizard thought it was kind of crappy. (Note - a 4e Wizard is king of battlefield control, but a 3.X wizard is God of the Universe.)

4e plays action hero out of the box. It can be used for other genres, but a lot of the concepts like healing surges make more sense in the context of the action-movie hero.

Make up your own rituals. OK, it's houseruling, but one of the things I thought cool about 4e was the concept of ritual magic separated from combat magic. Literally any spell you can think of from any fantasy source could become a ritual in your campaign. I have players working to gather components for a 30th level ritual that will create a new world as the major campaign goal.

RebelRogue
2010-12-08, 05:49 PM
Also, as a DM, embrace the idea that you do not have to justify anything with hard rules and/or NPC builds! Do you need your bad guy to breath fire and sprout wings at will (ok, a better example would be something more plot relevant)? No problem, just give it to him! No need to explain or justify it. In other words, story dictates mechanics rather than the other way around.

I realize that some DMs are inspired by the straightjacket of hard rules (I've been too in the past), and if you're one of those you might need a bit of adjustment.

Safety Sword
2010-12-08, 05:54 PM
Up? :smallamused:

Zeta Kai
2010-12-08, 06:01 PM
Up? :smallamused:

Thaaaaaaaaaaaaank you. I was waiting to note the lateral nature of this transition. The OP is jumping from an apple to an orange, so I don't know if that's progress exactly. I guess it depends on what flavor of juice that you want.

Crow
2010-12-08, 06:01 PM
Up? :smallamused:

I thought the same thing! :)

I assume he meant only in the numerical sense.

RebelRogue
2010-12-08, 06:01 PM
Vanilla! Definitely vanilla!

Safety Sword
2010-12-08, 06:04 PM
I thought the same thing! :)

I assume he meant only in the numerical sense.

It's the only explanation that is scientifically plausible.

Edit: You could also read my reply as "HE'S BAD MOUTHING 3.5! TO SWORDS!" but I'm really just pointing out that you can't really move in any direction from one to the other. It's two different games with the same label.

RebelRogue
2010-12-08, 06:07 PM
Haha :smallsigh: Now that we've got that out of the way, can we get back to giving a bit of constructive advice?

ninja_penguin
2010-12-08, 07:39 PM
It's been 2 years since I touched 4th Ed, so any tips on how to cope with the inevitable culture-shock?

1. Remember the experience budget, and adjust accordingly. Having attempted to DM 3.5 and sucked really bad at balancing encounters with the CR system, I rather like the experience budget. It lets you establish baselines and go from there for things.

2. You can reskin monsters super super easy in this. If the original encounter no longer makes sense, it's easy enough to maybe flop/remove a vulnerability or two and go from there.

3. Expect your players to be posting higher damage numbers then you are. Even with the revised monsters, if your players and monsters are dealing the same amounts of damage to each others your players will be dirt napping.

4. If you're using the MM1, don't use the solos unless you modify them down using the new revised numbers. MM1 solos are really boring fights.

5. If you're trying to scale up the difficulty, I've found that adding in more monsters is better then adding in higher level monsters. Players are frequently frustrated if you add in level +3/4 monsters, and even the striker needs a 14 or higher on the dice to hit, even after combat advantage.


Just some of the things that sprang to mind immediately

Mark Hall
2010-12-08, 08:10 PM
Forget that you're playing something called "D&D"; you're instead playing a fantasy RPG that shares some things with D&D, but is, for the most part a completely different game. Whether it is "D&D" is debatable and largely dependent upon one's definition... but it is an entirely different game.

Safety Sword
2010-12-08, 08:23 PM
Forget that you're playing something called "D&D"; you're instead playing a fantasy RPG that shares some things with D&D, but is, for the most part a completely different game. Whether it is "D&D" is debatable and largely dependent upon one's definition... but it is an entirely different game.

It appears to be in WoTC definition... that would appear to be enough to make the label valid.

The Glyphstone
2010-12-08, 08:26 PM
You're moving 'up' according to the M.C. Escher dictionary. You know nothing, expect nothing, assume nothing.

Thurbane
2010-12-08, 08:32 PM
Also, as a DM, embrace the idea that you do not have to justify anything with hard rules and/or NPC builds! Do you need your bad guy to breath fire and sprout wings at will (ok, a better example would be something more plot relevant)? No problem, just give it to him! No need to explain or justify it. In other words, story dictates mechanics rather than the other way around.
That's how 1E and to a lesser degree 2E used to play out. If there wasn't a rule for something, then the DM made a call. 3.X introduced "Wall of Text" rules for just about everything, so that aspect of the game dwindled...

Urpriest
2010-12-08, 08:45 PM
That's how 1E and to a lesser degree 2E used to play out. If there wasn't a rule for something, then the DM made a call. 3.X introduced "Wall of Text" rules for just about everything, so that aspect of the game dwindled...

4e's a little different. DMs are encourages to use the provided tools to make what they want, and told that stuff that isn't put into power format is mostly fluff. So while a 1e/2e DM might decide that a monster breathing fire might set some objects ablaze, while one breathing ice would freeze a lake, in 4e powers do exactly what they say they do and no more, and what they say they do shouldn't go too far from the basic conditions listed in the PHB. 4e isn't simulationist: if something doesn't have a good rules-equivalent, then it doesn't need to be modeled at all.

Gorilla2038
2010-12-08, 08:50 PM
That's how 1E and to a lesser degree 2E used to play out. If there wasn't a rule for something, then the DM made a call. 3.X introduced "Wall of Text" rules for just about everything, so that aspect of the game dwindled...

Oh course, thats how you play. Ive always just did that, and RAW can go stuff itself. In fact, Ive only had 1 DM who loved RAW. He was the best DM Ive ever played with, but I feel that was in spite of his Rule-ness.

WitchSlayer
2010-12-08, 08:54 PM
There are plenty of non combat spells and abilities, they're called utility powers and rituals.

Hal
2010-12-08, 09:28 PM
Make your players worry about what's on their character sheet at times besides combat.

Challenging players in 4e means having 3-4 combats per day; fewer than that and your players might just blow through everything, but at 3-4 combats you might find it hard to do anything else.

Still, give the players a reason to take utility powers and feats. If someone learns some ritual or ability, give him a reason to use it.

Oh, and try to ignore the parcel system. The game assumes the players will have a certain number of magic items at any given time, and the parcel system will ensure that your players will always be poor and lacking items. Consider using inherent bonuses if you don't like handing out gold like it's Halloween candy.

Alternatively to that, get a "wish list" from your players as to items they want. This way, when you start doling out magic items, you can seed in their wish items. Otherwise, you could just say, "You find a level 5 magic item in the box. What is it?" Some people don't like that approach, though.

Urpriest
2010-12-08, 09:55 PM
Make your players worry about what's on their character sheet at times besides combat.

Challenging players in 4e means having 3-4 combats per day; fewer than that and your players might just blow through everything, but at 3-4 combats you might find it hard to do anything else.

Still, give the players a reason to take utility powers and feats. If someone learns some ritual or ability, give him a reason to use it.

Oh, and try to ignore the parcel system. The game assumes the players will have a certain number of magic items at any given time, and the parcel system will ensure that your players will always be poor and lacking items. Consider using inherent bonuses if you don't like handing out gold like it's Halloween candy.

Alternatively to that, get a "wish list" from your players as to items they want. This way, when you start doling out magic items, you can seed in their wish items. Otherwise, you could just say, "You find a level 5 magic item in the box. What is it?" Some people don't like that approach, though.

I'm curious: what's wrong with the parcel system? It seems to agree pretty much precisely with the wealth-by-level guidelines.

Loren
2010-12-08, 11:14 PM
Some points for those moving from 3.5 to 4E
-Monster design has been evolving. Consequently, MM3 and the Monster Vault are probably the best place to get monsters from.
-Recently a new line of produces called Essentials came out which isupdated some aspects of the game. As part of the project some of the classes have been given options to play closer to their older style.
-NPCs should basically never be designed using the same system as PC's unless they are DMPCs
-If done right Skill Challenges can be interesting and fun, but they take preperation by the DM and a willingness to improvise, otherwise they desolve into a series of rolls to do the same thing. Keep them dynamic.
-PCs may seem to start at a higher power level, often things like between level 3 and 5 are batted about.
-As important as character design is, party design also comes into play. The 'roles' of classes will be reflected in how they play out.
-The power difference between classes has been greatly reduced. As part of this some frequently maligned classes (such as monks) are fun options. As a result some classes which may look mediocer, like warlord, are actually excellent.
-classes represent a grouping of ideas. Thus, many 4E classes contain several 3.x classes.
-at the same time class builds tend to be more specialized than their 3.x equivalents. For instance the ranger no longer is being pulled in multiple directions by its combat style, animal companion, and ability to cast.
- Rituals generally have replaced non-combat spells. Similarly, a recent source (Martial Powers 2, I think) introduced Martial Practices which allow players to buy cool abilities based off of a wider range of skills (forging weapons off of athletics as an example)
-for players, the Player's Handbook series gives access to a wider range of races and classes while the Powers books give greater depth to the classes
-You probably wanted a grid for 3.x you need it for 4 (the Monster Vault is the most effecient way to get representations of monsters if you need/want them)
-PCs are expected to have certain amount of loot at any given level (conceptially, nothing new, just presented differently). DMG2 and the Dark Sun setting book gives rules for how to run a campaign where they are getting less physical stuff. These call also serve to give you a good idea of what mechanically players are expected to have.

--
-The meaning of CR is very different. To have good encounters be sure to review the xp budget
-All combat encounter should be "sub-boss" fights if they aren't boss fights. 4E is about big, dynamic combats. Opening doors and finding monsters like an advent calendar (see some early 3E, let alone 2E adventures) is very passe. Having multiple enemies in a signal encounter is the norm. This was encourage by the fact that the early designs for solo monsters were a failure because they had too many hit points and didn't do enough damage. the result were long slog fests. If you are using older material it is recomended that you reduce the hit points and increase the damage of solos. The propotions for these remixs depend on who you ask, but the easiest rule of thumb I've seen is half hit points/double damage.

Mando Knight
2010-12-08, 11:28 PM
(forging weapons off of athletics as an example)

It's an art passed down by the Armstrong family for GENERATIONS! *sparkle*
*shirtless and muscles*
*more sparkles*
*sparkling weapon with Major Armstrong's face on the pommel*

Loren
2010-12-08, 11:34 PM
Mando Kinght, ya, so they aren't all the brightest ideas, but a useful mechanic to be aware of non the less.

DeltaEmil
2010-12-09, 12:19 AM
It's an art passed down by the Armstrong family for GENERATIONS! *sparkle*
*shirtless and muscles*
*more sparkles*
*sparkling weapon with Major Armstrong's face on the pommel*It sounds awesome and manly, because real men sparkle pink.

Kife
2010-12-09, 12:31 AM
Also, two important things to remember is rituals and skill challenges.

A lot of more open ended abilities that certain classes had access to... ::Koff-friggin wizards koff koff:: have been retooled as rituals. All you need is the ritual spellcaster feat and the skill and you can use them... and if you want you can fudge and say 'the specially prepared ritual has been charged for the paladin to make the religion check'. Think of it this way: powers are used in fights. Rituals are used for out of fights.

Skill challenges are interesting ways to have conflict without the dire consequences. You set up the situation, pick which skills count for success, and watch players cope. I did a fun one were we had four players tracking our enemy like Aragorn after Merry and Pippin. Nature and endurance were the primary skills... but the rest of could make other checks as need be... and for fun a random encounter was thrown in the middle! It made the night a blast as skills mattered and we couldn't just take 10. It was also great for players to invent reasons why the fighter got a 7 on their athletics check and lost a healing surge (I tripped and fell down a ravine... and declared "short cut!")

Also, now that I think of it one more thing. Combat in 4e is VERY tactical. If your party is small it is very easy for players to do the wrong thing and get very dead. Depending on how you play it, if someone goes charging in, they might get splattered. Players will have to learn ranged attacks and letting the defenders get into position and using choke points.

CarpeGuitarrem
2010-12-09, 12:37 AM
It's an art passed down by the Armstrong family for GENERATIONS! *sparkle*
*shirtless and muscles*
*more sparkles*
*sparkling weapon with Major Armstrong's face on the pommel*
Major Armstrong = awesomesauce (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SohqOBSLjng)

Anyhow, something I'd recommend is trying a game that doesn't have a lot of encounters. Try playing around with the skill system and utility powers for starters, and see what you can do with the system there. It may cut out a good portion of 4E, but that's also a portion that's ignored often.

Heck, try running a combat as a skill challenge instead.

Hal
2010-12-09, 06:59 AM
I'm curious: what's wrong with the parcel system? It seems to agree pretty much precisely with the wealth-by-level guidelines.

Well, perhaps I can only react to my previous GM's implementation of it.

Our campaign ended at 10th level. Our GM used the parcel system (as far as I was aware, at least) until about 8th level, at which point we were pretty much begging him to equip us with something more, as none of us had more than 1000g or any magic items above 5th level.

By the time the campaign was over, all he'd done was dump a level 8 and a level 13 magic item in our laps (each).

Eldan
2010-12-09, 07:02 AM
That's how 1E and to a lesser degree 2E used to play out. If there wasn't a rule for something, then the DM made a call. 3.X introduced "Wall of Text" rules for just about everything, so that aspect of the game dwindled...

I never really did it like that in 3.5... to use the Ice Breath example: I've had a player once who tried to flee from an ice-breathing monster by diving into a lake. The monster promptly froze the surface of the lake with it's breath, so two other players had to hack a hole with their weapons to get him out before he drowned. Not really handled by the rules, but memorable.

Myth
2010-12-09, 07:15 AM
Having played 3.5 means you will come with expectations and such. If you all played Dwarf Fighters with Toughness and Monks with Acrobatic you'd find it OK. If you enjoy playing real characters that don't feel like hobos you'll be disappointed. Taken from a wonderful post right on this forum (quote out of memory): "In 3.5 you have uber powerful casters and hobos and there is a great difference in power. But you have a choice. In 4E everyone is a hobo."

At this point all I can say is that the over simplified alignment system, the slaughtering of the major Faerun pantheons, the non-advancement of several settings to 4E, the completely stupid healing surges and warlock like powers for everyone cannot recreate any of the truly epic and mighty spellcaster classes of 3.5 nor any of the very awesome multiclassng builds for skillmonkeys, versatile characters, good melee/ranged characters and so on.

I hate 4E :smallmad:

Aharon
2010-12-09, 07:25 AM
Note that I haven't actually played, but just looked at the rules, so my advice may play out differently from what people who actually played think.

I like 3.5. A lot. Especially the lower end of the border from PO to TO (CL 9000 builds are too much for me, but polymorph and celerity are fine). So the first thing I thought when I saw 4th Ed was: Where is all my story altering power?

Then I read the rituals, and was relieved to see that you can still do awesome things like cloak your whole castle so nobody will ever see it, and then put it on a flying mountaintop. Alas, that costs lots of money. So for a slightly more 3.5 feeling, my advice would be to drop the ritual costs. In some cases, it might even be appropriate to let the rituals do what their fluff text says, not what their rules text says.

My second advice, I already use in the 3.5 system: WBL or parceling - both are extremely tedious. Just let the players have whatever level-appropriate stuff they can get for their WBL - and then drop real rewards from time to time. Stuff like artifacts, or items that produce effects that aren't covered by the rules, or that are cool but would cost way to much money by the rules.

nightwyrm
2010-12-09, 07:26 AM
Well, perhaps I can only react to my previous GM's implementation of it.

Our campaign ended at 10th level. Our GM used the parcel system (as far as I was aware, at least) until about 8th level, at which point we were pretty much begging him to equip us with something more, as none of us had more than 1000g or any magic items above 5th level.

By the time the campaign was over, all he'd done was dump a level 8 and a level 13 magic item in our laps (each).

Then your DM was doing it wrong.

Grogmir
2010-12-09, 07:47 AM
{{scrubbed}}

You're not a Hobo - you are whatever you want your character to be! As the rules are simplified - this actually allows you MORE freedoms. Its easier to make stuff up when there's not a splat book that covers it in detail. Page 42 and +/-2 are you friends. Basically get away from trying to do everything with rules and back into the action.

Combat: Don't bother with random encounters - each encounter should be a memorable and interesting location. Use terrain features a lot.

Skill challenges: they can be made complex - or simple - but all you really need is a situation - and two outcomes - failure and success. Then let you players loose and go with the flow.

Finally if your players are like others stuck in the broken 3.5 era - then they'll moan about the Wizards 'lack of options' Point them to the Ritual section and tell them to stfu. These can be made cheaper / quickier - expanded to meet the expectations and requirements for you games.

4th ed is a game where at the end of the session you should be talking about the Cool things you character did IN GAME - not the cool things he can do on his character sheet.

Aharon
2010-12-09, 08:02 AM
@Skill Challenges
Note, again, that this is not based on playing experience, but analysis yields the result that these don't work as intended.
Link (http://www.highprogrammer.com/alan/gaming/dnd/4e/skill-challenge-broken.html) containing analysis.

Link (http://www.tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=49652) containing lengthy discussion.

Edit: The system was extensively worked on, though, and I think there exist more current versions. Those might work better.

Sipex
2010-12-09, 09:30 AM
I'll agree with the sentiment "4e is about what your character did in game." as this is how most of my sessions end.

Also, someone said the powers in 4e work as written, no more, no less. While this is essentially true I find it makes for a much better game if you don't stick to this. An ice spell can very well freeze water if you rule it can.

Salbazier
2010-12-09, 09:38 AM
So why a thread asking for advice of playing 4E turn into another 4E debate?

Grogmir
2010-12-09, 09:50 AM
...An ice spell can very well freeze water if you rule it can.

This in my game is what is called a 'stunt' if you want to do something above the rules then pick a skill (in this case it would be arcana) make is a around a 5+ to succed if its a low level 10+ if is medium and 15+ if its super dooper god like. Do you freeze the water? well roll it and see!

An actually in game example - I had a cleric player who had a nemisis - on the third time the nem was fing with his character he HAD to let him go for in game reasons. He then asks me, 'can I curse him?' Sure what you got in mind?

"Pelor I beesch you, Curse this devil (note he wasn't a devil just a human) and all the spawn (children) he has created." I asked what effect he was actually looking for. Boils would have been easy level - but the PC wanted them to basically have bad luck, get a disease and die - okay Hard level - roll it. DC whatever a 15+ on the dice would be - Religion. A 19th! About a month (in game time later) and the Nemisis showed up again - his children dead - looking ill and with a real bone to pick with the cleric!

Was this in the rules? 'eck no!

Encourage you players to tell you what they WANT to do and then just roll/role with it. Embrace that freedom.

happy Rollin'

{{Scrubbed}}

Oracle_Hunter
2010-12-09, 10:09 AM
@Skill Challenges
Note, again, that this is not based on playing experience, but analysis yields the result that these don't work as intended.
Link (http://www.highprogrammer.com/alan/gaming/dnd/4e/skill-challenge-broken.html) containing analysis.

Link (http://www.tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=49652) containing lengthy discussion.

Edit: The system was extensively worked on, though, and I think there exist more current versions. Those might work better.
Yeah, those links are very old.

One of the first patches WotC made was to fix the mathematics of Skill Challenges. This is another change from 3.5 to 4 - WotC actually fixed problems in their system as they came up. Be current on the Errata (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/updatesarchive) and the game works much better.

Additional Advice
The easiest way to become current on the patches is to subscribe to DDI. You get access to Character Builder and Monster Builder - each of which has all the books published to-data and incorporate all Errata - and can reference discrete rules via the Comphendium.

You can buy access to it for 1 month for $10. It's an online program, but you can split it up between your Players to defray costs; AFAIK as many people as want to can sign on to an account at a given time. Split 4 ways, that's a single payment of $2.50 per person. Heck, if you have some 4E initiates in your group it's likely that one of them already has a live account!

If you decide to run a full campaign of 4E I recommend buying a year subscription for about $80 - or $20/person split 4 ways. You can sign up here. (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/subscription.aspx)

One caveat of DDI is that it is an online resource - you need to be online to manipulate it. Still, you can print-off stuff from it as you need it.
Aside from that, just treat it as a new system and you won't have any problems.

Myth
2010-12-09, 10:42 AM
This in my game is what is called a 'stunt' if you want to do something above the rules then pick a skill (in this case it would be arcana) make is a around a 5+ to succed if its a low level 10+ if is medium and 15+ if its super dooper god like. Do you freeze the water? well roll it and see!

An actually in game example - I had a cleric player who had a nemisis - on the third time the nem was fing with his character he HAD to let him go for in game reasons. He then asks me, 'can I curse him?' Sure what you got in mind?

"Pelor I beesch you, Curse this devil (note he wasn't a devil just a human) and all the spawn (children) he has created." I asked what effect he was actually looking for. Boils would have been easy level - but the PC wanted them to basically have bad luck, get a disease and die - okay Hard level - roll it. DC whatever a 15+ on the dice would be - Religion. A 19th! About a month (in game time later) and the Nemisis showed up again - his children dead - looking ill and with a real bone to pick with the cleric!

Was this in the rules? 'eck no!

Encourage you players to tell you what they WANT to do and then just roll/role with it. Embrace that freedom.

happy Rollin'

{Scrub the post, scrub the quote}

So you are basically saying that we should all go play hobos with healing surges in 4E because the DM can houserule and pull stuff out of his arse on the fly to keep the players happy?

Even if that's an argument you can do that in 3.5 - pray to Pelor, by mentioning his name you trigger his remote sensing. He can perceive everything for 19 miles from your spot. He sees the bad guy, uses Alter Reality on him to lay a Contagion, makes a trivial check to know where his offspring are, cast Contagion again. Presto. And it's all RAW legal too, only DM fiat necessary is to actually make Pelor care for the PC enough to move his arse, not making up abilites on the sopt. If you are making abilites up on the spot why even bother with a system? Just play pretend. It's free and fun for everyone. :smallsmile:

Sipex
2010-12-09, 10:49 AM
How about we don't turn this into another arguement?

You know, spice things up for once.

Myth
2010-12-09, 10:50 AM
Noted I will cease and desist. :smallbiggrin:

Urpriest
2010-12-09, 10:51 AM
Well, perhaps I can only react to my previous GM's implementation of it.

Our campaign ended at 10th level. Our GM used the parcel system (as far as I was aware, at least) until about 8th level, at which point we were pretty much begging him to equip us with something more, as none of us had more than 1000g or any magic items above 5th level.

By the time the campaign was over, all he'd done was dump a level 8 and a level 13 magic item in our laps (each).

One problem with the parcel system is that it doesn't play well with accelerated XP gain. Playing the whole thing by the book means every player gets a level-appropriate magic item each level, pretty much inevitably. However, if you have fewer encounters between levels (I was in one game where we leveled every session), then you'll quickly fall behind.

ShaggyMarco
2010-12-09, 10:51 AM
-Don't limit splat-books or Dungeon/Dragon material just because it isn't "core." In my experience, the stuff in those books doesn't tend to be any more broken or overpowered than the stuff from the PHBs.

-Buy the Rules Compendium. It is a super-handy reference book and has all of the updated, revised rules. It is the go-to reference for Skill Challenge design, plus the only book I tend to use at the table.

-The DDI Monster Builder is invaluable. Once you get comfortable running monsters, start making your own. It's fun!

-I will echo what others have said: 4ed gets fun as an RPG once you untrain yourself from the mindset of "If there aren't rules for it, you can't do it."
My corollary to this rule is that skills aren't just mundane things you know how to do: they can be magic. If you are trained in Arcana, that means you know some minor magic spells and such. Something not covered in the rules explicitly or also done by a utility power or ritual could be an Arcana check (The classic spell detect magic is RAW like this already.) The same goes for Religion and prayers...possibly even with Nature too. P. 42 covers some extended guidelines for this.

Sipex
2010-12-09, 11:00 AM
Yeah, 4th edition is very big on the "Get creative" bit when it comes to skills.

I've frequently used skills as more than they note. For instance, my Wizard abuses Ghost Sound (oh dear god does he ever) so I make him roll the appropriate skill check depending on what he wants to do with it.

Also, I'll echo the advice that treasure is severely gimped. If I were you I'd start with recommended treasure parcels at first and then ask your players after a level or two if they feel they are gaining the appropriate treasure. Mine out right asked me for more so I increased it and they're much happier (I just have to make sure to make things a bit more difficult, not a big deal).

Oracle_Hunter
2010-12-09, 11:01 AM
One problem with the parcel system is that it doesn't play well with accelerated XP gain. Playing the whole thing by the book means every player gets a level-appropriate magic item each level, pretty much inevitably. However, if you have fewer encounters between levels (I was in one game where we leveled every session), then you'll quickly fall behind.
...that's not how the Parcel System works.

If you have fewer Encounters per Level, then you should have more Parcels per Encounter. The net amount of treasure per level should be the same regardless of the number of Encounters you have.

Anyhow, equipment is not so important that being a little "behind" in it is fatal. The real problem is when people are still using +1 weapons at 10th level, not when some people are simply missing a head slot item.

Also: Thanks to patching, the material from 4E books are pretty solid. However, Dragon Magazine stuff is patched much less frequently and so it can be pretty wonky. As a result, I usually ban Dragon Magazine stuff just to have a cleaner game; you can play with it but I've found it tends to make things a bit "messier" vis-a-vis rules interpretations.

oxybe
2010-12-09, 11:03 AM
{Scrubbed}


At this point all I can say is that the over simplified alignment system, the slaughtering of the major Faerun pantheons, the non-advancement of several settings to 4E, the completely stupid healing surges and warlock like powers for everyone cannot recreate any of the truly epic and mighty spellcaster classes of 3.5 nor any of the very awesome multiclassng builds for skillmonkeys, versatile characters, good melee/ranged characters and so on.

is pretty much all why one SHOULD play 4th ed:
a) alignment is no longer mechanical and now purely fluff, as it should have been
b) i can't speak about FR, never cared for the settings
c) 4th ed has 3 settings: FR got advanced a hundred or so years (if i remember), Eberron was left as is and Dark Sun got a setting reboot.
d) healing surges is the first time D&D fully recognized the abstract value of HP and makes it so using your healing spell is just as effective on a fighter as it is on a wizard (as opposed to a static 2d8+10, which is a whole different ballgame depending on the PC receiving it)
e) only warlocks get warlock-like powers. not too sure what you mean by this.
f) again, castrating the Wizards Rule/Fighters Drool is not a bad thing
g) you're right, i don't need to multiclass to create an awesome skill monkey. with the condensed skill list, it's much easier to be trained in a wide variety of skills as opposed to the 8/11 3.5 classes that only had 4 or less skill points in a game with 46 unique skills
h) see g. between the larger number of actual skill each character has access to and the ritual system being open to anyone wanting to invest in it, as well as utility powers, versatility is something a 4th ed PC does not lack
i) many classes are good at ranged and melee. you just need to pick the one that fits the combat style you want and refluff.

Urpriest
2010-12-09, 11:08 AM
snip

Let me clarify. The DM who looks at the suggested list of parcels and fails to realize that they are distributed that way because there is a specific expected number of encounters expected per level will give much less treasure if they're accelerating XP gain. It's a reasonably common mistake for a new DM, and something to watch out for. Yes, the parcel system does indeed explicitly take into account different rates of XP gain, but many new DMs will miss that paragraph and skip to the handy example table.

Myth
2010-12-09, 11:10 AM
Observe:

this is me, ceasing and desisting :smallsmile:

I'm happy to discuss this in another thread or via PM. You should know that "my BS" is the opinion of a lot of other players as well. I'm sure they would have things to add.

Sipex
2010-12-09, 11:17 AM
Thank you Myth, I don't agree with your opinion but I respect your maturity in not taking that bait.

Grogmir
2010-12-09, 11:21 AM
So you are basically saying that we should all go play hobos with healing surges in 4E because the DM can houserule and pull stuff out of his arse on the fly to keep the players happy?

....Just play pretend. It's free and fun for everyone. :smallsmile:

Please note that I, the DM, didn't pull anything out of anywhere - the players told me what they wanted to do . All I had to do was pick the skill - normally obvious and the difficulty level out of three potential ones. its one simplified method -which my players know and understand. Your 3.5 method sounds great - but for me and my players it would be too much stuff to remember. 'Eck we would even know we could do all thatin the first place!

But its a great example of the difference between 3.5 and 4th. My way - one simple method for all situations. 3.5 very specific rules to follow (often following completely different designs) and remember if you ever actually want to use them.

GROG - STOP COMPARING - Okay - i've stopped.

I thought playing pretending was exactly what we WERE doing?

Fun for everyone (Insert - not just for spell casters) - Ahhh the key trump card of 4th ed :smallwink: Dratted it I couldn't even get to the end of the post. Sorry.:smalltongue:

(EDIT - and have been ninja since i started writing this - i've stopped honest - happy gaming to ALL - whatever system they play - even if they feel compelled to join a 4th ed thread just to say the didn't like it and have gone back to playing 3.5)

ShriekingDrake
2010-12-09, 11:21 AM
Earnestly tried 4E . . . it's just not as much fun for me. I'm back to 3.X in all my groups.

Seerow
2010-12-09, 12:27 PM
Having played 3.5 means you will come with expectations and such. If you all played Dwarf Fighters with Toughness and Monks with Acrobatic you'd find it OK. If you enjoy playing real characters that don't feel like hobos you'll be disappointed. Taken from a wonderful post right on this forum (quote out of memory): "In 3.5 you have uber powerful casters and hobos and there is a great difference in power. But you have a choice. In 4E everyone is a hobo."

Calling everyone in 4E a hobo is pretty bad. You act as though all 4e characters are on a power level with the 3e Fighter, and that simply isn't the case. You don't spend entire combats doing nothing but full attacking back and forth. Even when you completely run out of limited use powers you have 2-3 at wills you may choose between. Everyone having the same powers does not make everyone a hobo, it's certainly not bringing everyone up to unbridled caster power levels, but rather everyone got brought somewhere in the middle, which is good.


At this point all I can say is that the over simplified alignment system

Then play with the old alignment system? It's not like there were ever a lot of rules hardcoded into alignment. Only some people really felt there were, so they oversimplified it exactly to stop people from treating them like a straight jacket.


the slaughtering of the major Faerun pantheons

So use the 3e fluff?


the completely stupid healing surges

Healing surges were quite possibly the best thing brought into 4th edition. While it sounds wonky hearing about it, if you consider hit points to be more of an abstract than an indication of how many wounds you can physically take, it makes a lot more sense, and it gives a very real resource you have to manage throughout the game without having to rely on limited healing powers.


and warlock like powers for everyone cannot recreate any of the truly epic and mighty spellcaster classes of 3.5

Why would you want to? What exactly is fun about being able to destroy everything and anything in a million different ways without trying unless your DM gives what you are facing a million immunities fun? How is it fun for the guy across the table who doesn't want to play a magic user? Would you really have more fun if everyone at the table was playing a full caster and able to destroy anything?

I've heard a lot of arguments against 4e, but "I can't be epicly overpowered" is the one I will never understand. The point of playing a game isn't to be overpowered. You can do that without a system at all. Or you could jack up levels to obscene points (see: The guy on this forum a few weeks ago talking about his ECL 68 Fighter). The point of 4e is that even in a low level charavter, you can feel cool. You can do neat things.

If you want the awesome utility of 3e mages, a lot of it is there in the form of rituals, which means you can still have it, but you have to keep it out of combat due to a higher cast time.


nor any of the very awesome multiclassng builds for skillmonkeys, versatile characters, good melee/ranged characters and so on.

Show me a non-homebrew character that can handle melee and ranged equally well, and is on the power level of the casters you love so much. It simply doesn't happen. You have to focus on one or the other, which is a truth 4e acknowledges. The exception may be a Gish, but that's because Gishes are full casters and as such can do everything they want and then some.

And why do you need to multiclass as a skill monkey? Play a rogue, or a bard. No need to multiclass! Multiclassing being required to be good is a weakness, not a strength.

If you're trying to complain about a lack of flexibility, between Multiclassing, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies, 4e characters tend to have a ton of variety available to them (Remember multiclassing lets you access your multi-class's Paragon Paths/Epic Destinies, which is huge), even before you consider power selection which makes a much larger difference in the feel and flavor of your character than ever before.


Yes you won't have the Fighter2/Wizard4/Abjurant Champion5/Eldritch Knight9 or whatever. However you can easily have a Fighter(Multiclass Wizard)/Wizard of the Spiral Tower, or you could simply play a Swordmage.





edit: I made this post without realizing there was a second page, let alone the discussion saying "Let's not turn this thread into an argument". By bad.

Saph
2010-12-09, 12:54 PM
Having played and DMed both 3.5 and 4e for several years:

3.5 is more flexible and more versatile. There's a greater variety of build options out there and you can think up pretty much any character design and find a way to do it. The disadvantages are complexity and imbalance, as well as a lack of support (although Pathfinder is decent).
4e is simpler and much better balanced. It's much harder to mess up a 4e character and combats are more straightforward due to everything being laid out for you in advance. The price you pay for that is much less variety and versatility, and there's generally less to look forward to as your character levels up.
They really are very different systems, and feel very different in play.

tcrudisi
2010-12-09, 12:58 PM
It's been 2 years since I touched 4th Ed, so any tips on how to cope with the inevitable culture-shock?

I'm reposting this quote from the original post. I know that "I'm going from 3.5/4e to 3.5/4e" threads tend to turn into "3.5/4e is better than 3.5/4e" wars, so hopefully reminding everyone what the intent of the OP was will help get this back on track.

The best tip I can give you? Pretend it is an entirely new and different game. Why? Because it is. I'm not saying that 4e is better or that it is somehow "not D&D". It is D&D. I went from 2nd ed. to 3rd ed. and was blown away by the changes. I experienced that culture shock you mention. When I went from 3.5 to 4e, I experienced the same thing. I was hesitant at first. I really loved 3.5, but I wanted to give 4e it's fair chance. I played both at the same time. I had to, really; there were so many characters I still wanted to play in 3.5. And then I joined the last 3.5 game I ever played. It was with new people and one guy sat down with a Druid/Wizard gestalt that he was planning on turning into Pun-Pun vis-a-vis the level 13(?) version. Once he admitted to it, I left that game and never went back to 3.5. In fact, I refuse.

I say that story not because I am trying to convince you that 3.5 is somehow worse. It's not. It just took that experience for me to realize what I loved about 4e, what changes were made to really improve the system, and how it will better allow me to sit down with strangers and not have to worry about complete imbalances. I love that, so when I was learning 4e, I was able to focus on the things I loved about it, which caused me to love the game even more. Even though the system was new so the DMs were struggling with the rules set, causing the game to be a bit less fun (because, let's face it, 1 hr. long combats are not fun).

Basically, while you are learning the rules, don't think, "I don't like these changes." Instead, try to think about the benefits that change gives you. For example, I absolutely love skill challenges. Your rogue wants to sneak into the palace and steal the royal jewels? Skill challenge makes it easy. As he succeeds or fails on a check, events happen which causes him to have to use his skills (or abilities/powers) to continue, until he eventually either has overall success or failure. It's wonderful when properly utilized. Need to perform an exorcism? There's a skill challenge for that. Want to try and track somehow in a blizzard? There's a skill challenge for that. Want to try and convince somehow that 3.5/4e is better than 3.5/4e? There's a skill challenge or epic level spell for that (depending on your system, of course). Or just use Diplomacy/Bluff. Whatever. :-P

Basically, going from 3.5 to World of Darkness is similar. Has your group ever tried a new system? If so, you'll know much of what to expect. It's a bit different going from one edition of D&D to another, just because it's easier to learn an entirely new rules set when you go from one name to another, whereas going from D&D to D&D you sort of expect most things to remain the same. It's easier to pretend that it's completely different (and in most ways it is) and go from there.

Good luck. I hope your group really enjoys 4e so that one day I might find myself sitting at your table. :smallbiggrin: I'll bring the 4e equivalent of Pun-Pun so that you guys will immediately convert to 5e while cursing me.

Eric Tolle
2010-12-09, 01:02 PM
OK, I'll give a bit of useful advice. The system works pretty well as written- the only change my current GM made is to make the material component cost for rituals 1/10th what it is in the book, thus encouraging us to use all those highly useful low level rituals. Oddly enough the ritual we've seen the most of has been Animal Messenger, to keep in touch with our home town and the elf village we're allying with.

Beyond that, I dunno; based on what I've heard my group is obviously not playing 4E properly, despite following the rules. It's been a highly exploration-based game with a lot of diplomacy and rarely more than one combat a session- the last session we managed to avert a three-way war between hobgoblins, elves and us by doing desperate diplomacy. The game has also had excellent roleplaying, better than pretty much any 3.X game I've been in, but that's probably due to the group as much as anything; we're all old-time gamers who think we can do good roleplaying with any system. Nor do we feel especially tough or invulnerable, having been severely chewed on during several occasions.

My main advice would be, come up with good scenarios, and go from there. Good luck!

Sipex
2010-12-09, 01:07 PM
Oh yeah, 4e is definitely not a "Combat Only" game nor does it impede roleplaying.

Heck, my players completely ruined a huge encounter with an inn full of kobolds (and kobold traps >.<) with a dragon living underneath. They snuck in, met the dragon, negotiated with it (green dragon, lazy), and got the dragon to agree to have kobolds escort them through the inn safely to get the boy they came for.

It sucked that I didn't get to use my home made INN map but my players absolutely loved it.

Telok
2010-12-09, 01:09 PM
After playing 4e for a bit over a year our group is happily giving it up to return to 3.5

Our return is caused by the 2 to 4 hour combat and the insane rate of character leveling with it's associated paperwork. It usually took about two to three sessions to complete any in-game day that had encounters and the characters were leveling every in-game week. Punk to demi-god in eight months, we just aren't coping with this very well.

However, my observations for a better 4e game.

1) If it isn't AMAZING then don't do it. 4e has been heavily influenced by anime and cartoons, people will jump up to shout out what they are doing while everyone else stands around and waits for them to finish their special move. This is the 4e style and you'll need to fit into it.

2) No square rooms with a monster and a chest in them. Your scenery and terrain need to more than just basic rooms with maybe a section of difficult ground. This will tie into #3.

3) Don't be suckered by a "save ends" or push/pull power that looks cool. Saves are stupidly easy to make and that push/pull won't make much difference unless it's 4+ squares or has some AMAZING terrain to put the target into. Cliffs and ledges don't count, the save is too easy and the effect of actually going over is very unimpressive.

4) Skip the skill challenges. They're just over-hyped sets of skill rolls that WotC keeps having a hard time with. Go ahead and read them, keep the good ideas you find, and just have the players make skill rolls. If you want reasoned arguments about them pull up your spreadsheet program and enter in what classes get what skills, how many, and which stats they have. Then check the spread between the haves and the have-nots.

5) It's got combat stats or it's got nothing. With over 150$ (U.S.) in 4e books we discovered that 4e does not tell you what a hippogriff is. It has combat stats, we can fight it, we can ride it, we can buy them, and that's it. The game will not tell you anything else about a hippogriff, not even a picture. As such, feel free to ignore the names and keywords on the monsters. Just pick something that you like and fits your encounter budget, describe it however you want, and throw it at the players.

6) Houserule everything but combat, and houserule that if it will make things go faster. 4e is a good tactical squad combat system with rollplay bits stuck on the outside. You have a better than 50/50 chance that the "rules" for any non-combat thing are either borked or simply don't exist.

7) Misc notes: Area of effect powers are black holes that suck up time. Complicated powers aren't worth the time it takes. If the ranger uses mostly one at-will for 20 - 50 damage and the monk has trouble breaking 15 damage to two targets with a daily, kill the monk. Someone covering their eyes to benefit from the -5 blind attack penalty to get a "end of next turn" miss effect rather than a "save ends" hit is just being a good controller. Beware of monsters bearing dominate (more than 1/encounter), insubstantial, phasing, weaken, at-will grant temporary hp, and slowing damage auras. If a monster has more than one of those, don't use it because the fight will be a 4 hour slog.

Last tip: If a player shows up with a bard/warlord multiclass who only has interrupt, grant an attack, and re-roll powers... Kill the player. Not the character, the player. That sort of character is designed to slow combat to a crawl during other people's turns.

Saph
2010-12-09, 01:16 PM
The best tip I can give you? Pretend it is an entirely new and different game. Why? Because it is. I'm not saying that 4e is better or that it is somehow "not D&D". It is D&D. I went from 2nd ed. to 3rd ed. and was blown away by the changes. I experienced that culture shock you mention. When I went from 3.5 to 4e, I experienced the same thing. I was hesitant at first. I really loved 3.5, but I wanted to give 4e it's fair chance. I played both at the same time. I had to, really; there were so many characters I still wanted to play in 3.5. And then I joined the last 3.5 game I ever played. It was with new people and one guy sat down with a Druid/Wizard gestalt that he was planning on turning into Pun-Pun vis-a-vis the level 13(?) version. Once he admitted to it, I left that game and never went back to 3.5. In fact, I refuse.

Yeah, I think the balance thing is probably the biggest sticking point. Our group has never had any significant balance issues with 3.5, due to a combination of competent players and competent DMs. If you don't find 3.5's balance to be a problem, there's very little reason to convert to 4e, whereas the people who dislike the huge power gap between a well-built and poorly-built 3.5 character tend to much prefer 4e's more homogeonous approach.

On advice thing, and speaking as a DM: cut down on the price of rituals if you want players to use them. I'd also recommend taking a long hard look at Skill Challenges, and to be willing to heavily alter them or get rid of them completely. While some players like the mechanic, they can quickly turn into a boring slog. It's hard to mess up a 4e combat, but it's VERY easy to mess up a skill challenge.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-12-09, 01:16 PM
...OK. Let's try for some clarity.

To the OP
Do you have any specific concerns?
What bothered you so much about 4E the first time y'all played it?
What kind of game are you planning to run; are there any issues you can foresee?

This sorts of specific questions can provide useful information for a prospective DM and (try to) keep threads like this from being derailed.

@Saph

Rituals
I think, in the end, Ritual Usage is just one of those flavor things. When I play 4E I love using Rituals - I look for opportunities to use them and look to acquire them. But in the game I'm currently running, not a one of my Players has shown any interest in Rituals at all.

If your Players like using magic to solve their problems, they'll use Rituals; if they don't, they'll ignore them.

Skill Challenges
These are definitely the problem child of 4E - they don't run as smoothly as the rest of the system but they can work well if you figure out how to use them.

The easiest Skill Challenge to run is the Diplomatic Skill Challenge: just alter the NPC responses based on whether the Player succeeded or failed on their check. Using the (Errata'd) RAW works fine for these.

The hardest Skill Challenges are the ones which are more open-ended. In general, tasks that need to be solved by the group work best as Skill Challenges - fording a river, climbing a mountain, etc.; the Just frame it as a storytelling exercise and have each roll be tied to a scene within the overall story.

For example:
Your party is hiking through a spooky forest. Success means you get out without being ambushed; Failure means you get ambushed. Start the "story" by asking your Players who is leading people through the forest and ask them to make a Perception or Nature check to spot the path. Then go to the Player to their right and spin a story at them:

"While you're taking a break to find some water, you find yourself face-to-face with a snake of some kind. What do you do?"

The Player can them name an action, and you have them roll against the appropriate DC (Easy/Medium/Hard) with an appropriate Skill. If they choose to use something aside from a Skill, figure out whether it would auto-succeed or not. If they Fail, they lose a Healing Surge and chalk up a Failure in their column; if they Succeed, chalk up a Success and move on to the next Player.
I find that adding some more dice rolling tends to keep the Players excited. Personally, I like d% tables so I have each Player roll a d6 and then a d% to see what kind of challenge they face on their turn. Sometimes I even add in a Monster Tracker so that they might have to face a "random Encounter" if they roll enough 1's before they finish the Challenge.

Again, YMMV but this approach seems to work well with my Players.

Sipex
2010-12-09, 01:26 PM
Other advice for ritual casting which has worked for me, give them ritual components as extra treasure (not part of your standard treasure parcels).

PCs tend to use it if they're given it.

Yakk
2010-12-09, 01:31 PM
3.5e rules that don't apply in 4e:

Shift is similar to a 5' step, but it takes a move action.
Threatened squares and reach are distinct things. Reach is far easier to get than threatened reach.
Standing up does not provoke OAs.
Immediate actions (interrupts and reactions) are one per round (not turn -- round), and cannot be used on your turn. Interrupts, if they prevent the action they interrupt from being possible, make the action wasted. Reactions don't do this, and happen afterwards.
Opportunity actions resolve at interrupt speed (before the triggering action, or mini-action in the case of squares of movement), and are one per turn (not per round -- turns are more common), and cannot be used on your turn.
Space is square, as this makes things faster.
Invisibility does not grant stealth, but it makes it much easier. Stealth refers to "you don't know where something is". If invisible, if you move you get to make a stealth check against every opponents passive perception. If you don't do this, the opponents know where you are (but take a -5 penalty to attack you with non-area/"close" attacks (close refers to area attacks starting in your square)).
Charge is not a full round action. There are no full round actions. Charge is a standard action that also lets you move your speed. It also 'eats up' your leftover actions (so if you had a move/minor left, they go poof). You can still do free actions -- which includes spending an action point to take a standard action after the charge, changing the grip on your weapon, using the barbarian charge-on-drop power, etc.

Other random gotchas:
PHB1/DMG1 stealth rules aren't right -- they are overly awkward in play. They revised them (free errata on website) and reprinted them in MP and PHB2.
Use monsters within 4 levels of the PCs. Going beyond that (upwards) ends up over-rewarding accuracy-chasers, and frustrates anyone who does not charop for accuracy. If you want a "bigger" bad guy, use an elite/solo within 4 levels.
Groups of monsters is default, not a single monster. A boss fight with a level+2 dragon and 6-10 minions (in the technical sense) is more fun than a boss fight with a level+4 dragon.
Skill challenge rules where errattad, the DMG1 version was a late-beta copy that snuck in.
Page 42 skill DCs where errattad, as well. Page 42 of the DMG1 rocks, but the errata'd version is also good.
Monster building was reworked in DMG2, MM2 and MM3. The MM3/Monster Vault monsters are deadlier, elites/solos are easier to hit (but shrug off status effects easier usually). As DMs tend to scale encounters to the player's capabilities, deadlier monsters is the same as monsters with less HP and defences -- so it quickens combat up nicely. There is free errata describing the new system on the wizards site.

Most of the key errata I have mentioned above. If a player goes online and researches Charop builds, then PC-side errata will be needed. Otherwise, it isn't a problem. PC-side errata patches over the more abusive tricks (which look very pedestrian from a 3e perspective) that CharOp piles together to create ridiculous combos.

Note that PCs who use short-of-bleeding-edge charop builds are actually fun to play with. It can help if everyone is similarly optimized. (bleeding edge gets ridiculous, like the no-hit no-miss Ranged Basic Attack exploit on the new wizard magic missile mixed with seeker inevitable shot feats...)

---

Parcels work reasonably well. If you want to use the new essentials-style magic items, that should also work.

Generally, make 50%-75% of the items you hand out be magic weapons, armor and amulets. Try to vaguely make them appropriate (plate armor if a PC can wear it, scale if they can wear that, etc), and bias slightly towards handing out heavy armor if there are both heavy and light armor wearers in the group (heavy armor masterwork bonuses matter more, and they can always use transfer enchantment -- which doesn't work for MW bonuses!).

More advanced tricks include keeping track of PC DPR.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-12-09, 01:36 PM
Once again, Yakk saves the day :smallbiggrin:

OP, if you read nothing else (aside from this eloquent post of course) read Yakk's. It covers Everthing You Wanted To Know About 4E (But Were Afraid To Ask) :smalltongue:

Splodge
2010-12-09, 02:19 PM
Thanks for the info Yakk, you have answered the majority of my questions.

2 years ago, when we did play it, we had a quick ECL 1 campaign vs Kobolds - the standard 3.5 thing you start off which that leads into a plot hook, and we didn't like it. I was DMing and the party was pretty 3.5 standard - Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard. We had assumed that they would simply be the same as 3.5, but with small cue-cards.

Things that I was interested in were ways to run campaigns, how the core classes break down [Tiers, Any Batman Wizards, or CoDzillas, etc], and the major thematic changes, and how non-combat works - we are a pretty well balanced group, having played both social and martial adventures, and our sessions are an even-ish split between some RPing/non-combat and hitting things with sticks until they drop gold.

I have the Core Rulebooks, but just reading through them means you might miss things that would otherwise change how a game works - for example, the first time you saw Grease/Web, most of us didn't realise that horrible combo. Stuff to watch out for. Like Bard/Warlords [Thanks Telok!]

tcrudisi
2010-12-09, 02:36 PM
Things that I was interested in were ways to run campaigns I'm a bit confused here. It's the same storytelling mechanic that any tabletop game encompasses.


how the core classes break down [Tiers, Any Batman Wizards, or CoDzillas, etc] Nope, not really. Everyone is basically the same tier and the "CoDzillas" require such extreme optimization and only start to occur at about level 16+ (and that's with those who really know how to optimize) that you won't have to worry about it. Even then, they still can't solo an encounter like a 3.5 Wizard could, so it's entirely different levels. However, keep an eye out on those roles. Defenders, Strikers, Leaders, and Controllers are the roles and they do play very differently. Want to do damage? Definitely play a striker. Want to make your DM weep because his monsters can't do anything? Play a controller. Want to be able to protect your allies? Play the defender. Want to make your allies into the best that they can be? Play a leader. They all do their jobs very well.


and how non-combat works Same as always. DM comes up with a story, players interact within the story. Sometimes the DM calls for skill checks. 4e introduced the skill challenge mechanic. Some people are claiming how horrible it is, but really, it's almost the same as just saying, "Okay, one bluff check isn't enough to convince him. Give me a diplomacy check as well" from 3.5. They've streamlined it. I enjoy it.


Stuff to watch out for. Like Bard/Warlords. Whoa whoa - what the heck is meant by this? Bards and Warlords are certainly not overpowered by any stretch. They are both good at what they do, but so is every class in 4e. Or did you mean they were underpowered? They aren't that, either. They are strong leaders. The Warlord is amazing at enabling his allies to do wonderful things; the Bard is great at positioning his allies where they need to be and rocking out-of-combat situations. They can both heal well, but that's true for every leader (except the cleric who can be downright amazing at it). So really - I'm confused by this statement. What are you trying to say about Bards and Warlords?

Oracle_Hunter
2010-12-09, 02:39 PM
Things that I was interested in were ways to run campaigns, how the core classes break down [Tiers, Any Batman Wizards, or CoDzillas, etc], and the major thematic changes, and how non-combat works - we are a pretty well balanced group, having played both social and martial adventures, and our sessions are an even-ish split between some RPing/non-combat and hitting things with sticks until they drop gold.

(1) Everything is approximately Tier III. If you keep an eye on the Errata you'll not have to worry.

(2) Non-Combat is as streamlined as combat. You can read about it in the DMG.

I'm not quite sure what you mean about "thematic changes."

As for tips about running a campaign: read the DMG and the Errata for Skill Challenges and you can run a servicable 4E Campaign. Also, try to visualize your story as a series of Encounters (or "scenes" if that helps) - I've found it helps out a lot.

tcrudisi
2010-12-09, 03:07 PM
Our return is caused by the 2 to 4 hour combat and the insane rate of character leveling with it's associated paperwork.

This was how it was for my group when we first started playing 3.5. Then, it's how it was for us when we started playing 4e. In both, we learned how to speed up combats. In my typical group, if we do not complete a level-appropriate combat within 30 minutes, it's because we are distracted. The main culprit for long combats is the same across all tabletop rpg's: players who take a long time deciding their actions, players who are slow to do math, dm's that do not keep the game in focus, dm's who don't do the little things to make the game shorter.

If each player communicates on others turns to know what everyone else will doing, strategizing can be done quickly and efficiently. You know what you should do on your turn, you roll. If you hit and the DM knows you can't kill the monster or can't possibly not kill it, you take your move/minor actions then roll for damage while another player begins his turn. While the second player is taking his turn, you tell the DM your damage. Each turn should take less than 30 seconds, really, with the DM helping things along. As a DM, I know what everyone's +attack and +damage are, usually, so I have already said "hit" or "miss" and marked down the damage before they even tell me. If they say something that's different, I ask them what their +damage was for that attack. Our average combat is about 15 minutes long.


1) If it isn't AMAZING then don't do it. 4e has been heavily influenced by anime and cartoons, people will jump up to shout out what they are doing while everyone else stands around and waits for them to finish their special move. This is the 4e style and you'll need to fit into it. Correction: this was your 4e style. I've certainly created 4e characters like that, but I've also created Swashbucklers in 3.5 who did the exact same thing. In the typical 4e game I've been in, the game is not like that at all.


2) No square rooms with a monster and a chest in them. Your scenery and terrain need to more than just basic rooms with maybe a section of difficult ground. This will tie into #3. Absolutely. Tactics are extremely important in 4e combats. Terrain allows the players and monsters to use/abuse terrain and it's wonderful. I enjoy this aspect of 4e.


3) Don't be suckered by a "save ends" or push/pull power that looks cool. Saves are stupidly easy to make and that push/pull won't make much difference unless it's 4+ squares or has some AMAZING terrain to put the target into. Cliffs and ledges don't count, the save is too easy and the effect of actually going over is very unimpressive. With all due respect, you are incorrect. A typical monster and player has a 55% chance to make a save. This means that the majority of the time, the save ends will be better (due to initiative order). It is further improved by items and feats that increase the saving throw number needed to pass against save ends effects. It's still hilariously easy to make your save ends high enough that no monster can succeed on their first saving throw. Then it's a matter of using items to force them to re-roll should they happen to succeed on the second. Save ends = win for controllers. As for push and pull? It's hilariously good, even at just 1. Combine it with prone to get a "you can do nothing but stand up and move. lawl haha you lose". All with push/slide/pull 1.


4) Skip the skill challenges. They're just over-hyped sets of skill rolls that WotC keeps having a hard time with. Try out a few skill challenges. When done properly, they can be far more memorable than any combat I've participated in. Yes, WotC is having a hard time, but they've figured out skill challenges. What they haven't figured out is skill dc's. The last errata on it was brilliant and works fairly well.


5) It's got combat stats or it's got nothing. With over 150$ (U.S.) in 4e books we discovered that 4e does not tell you what a hippogriff is. It has combat stats, we can fight it, we can ride it, we can buy them, and that's it. The game will not tell you anything else about a hippogriff, not even a picture. As such, feel free to ignore the names and keywords on the monsters. Just pick something that you like and fits your encounter budget, describe it however you want, and throw it at the players. ... And this is a bad thing? Think about it: it is easier than ever to take a monster and reflavor it into something else entirely. I do it all the time. The players never realize that what they thought was a large flesh golem was really a modified frost giant that does necrotic damage instead.


6) Houserule everything but combat, and houserule that if it will make things go faster. 4e is a good tactical squad combat system with rollplay bits stuck on the outside. You have a better than 50/50 chance that the "rules" for any non-combat thing are either borked or simply don't exist. Can you give examples? I can't think of very many non-combat situations that are not covered with skills. That's what they are there for, after all. If you need to roll, it's covered by a skill. If you don't need to roll, well, why say that it needs house-ruling?


7) Misc notes: Area of effect powers are black holes that suck up time. Complicated powers aren't worth the time it takes. If the ranger uses mostly one at-will for 20 - 50 damage and the monk has trouble breaking 15 damage to two targets with a daily, kill the monk. Someone covering their eyes to benefit from the -5 blind attack penalty to get a "end of next turn" miss effect rather than a "save ends" hit is just being a good controller. Beware of monsters bearing dominate (more than 1/encounter), insubstantial, phasing, weaken, at-will grant temporary hp, and slowing damage auras. If a monster has more than one of those, don't use it because the fight will be a 4 hour slog. AoE powers would technically speed up combat by just a tiny bit, due to efficiency. Rather than just targeting one and saying you are done, the player gets to roll damage, then roll to hit against 5 targets. Yes, his turn is a bit longer, but overall the combat goes quicker because there is less dice rolling and fewer player turns. If your monk is only hitting 2 targets with a daily, you should kill the monk because he doesn't know what he's doing. :smallwink: If someone is covering their eyes to get a "EoNT" instead of a "Save ends", they either don't understand the math behind the situation or they understand the math for the situation perfectly and really know how to optimize. Monsters that dominate are mostly non-existent until high levels and insubstantial monsters have half the hp of normal monsters their level, so they don't really slow down combats. Monsters that weaken are extremely annoying and do slow down combats, but they are also a great opportunity to slow down that one character that really out-damages everyone else and allows others to shine. Auras are fine and do not slow down my game. When a player enters an aura, I tell all the players, "5 cold damage and slowed until EoNT if you are in his aura." Then, on their turn, I say, "aura". That's it.


Last tip: If a player shows up with a bard/warlord multiclass who only has interrupt, grant an attack, and re-roll powers... Kill the player. Not the character, the player. That sort of character is designed to slow combat to a crawl during other people's turns.

Oohhh, so this is where you said about the bard/warlord. Right. Well, warlords do tend to give a lot of attacks (hence what I was saying about enabling earlier). Actually, a lot of players do not like warlords because, instead of doing something, they tend to let others do things. As a DM and player, I handle this simply by getting the warlord player and his melee allies together and saying, "Tell the warlord what your +attack and damage are for your basic attacks. This way, on the warlords turn, he can make the attack and damage roll for you." This way, the warlord gets to stay involved and roll dice (and isn't that what we all want in a combat? :smalltongue:). It also speeds up game play.

As for interrupts, that's once again one of those things that has to be streamlined. When you've got players who pay attention, the interrupts only take 15-30 seconds. Unless it's a "do you want to slide" interrupt (which bards are famous for), which those take 5 seconds tops. As for re-rolls, those generally take 10 seconds, too. "You missed? Re-roll that." Or, "Don't forget you get to roll twice".

It sounds like your main problem with 4e was the time spent in combat. That is certainly a problem early on when everyone is learning the system. However, the longer one plays with the same group, the more that problem goes away. It's not unrealistic to average 15 minute combats.

averagejoe
2010-12-09, 03:09 PM
The Mod They Call Me: It's good to see that many posters have voluntarilly dropped the "3rd vs. 4th" line of argument. I'd like to see everyone else follow their example. It is, at best, an off-topic discussion, and it tends to get worse. Just don't go there.

Splodge
2010-12-09, 04:57 PM
The "Thematic Changes" thing I was talking about was how you would have to change a RP/non-combat campaign using the skill challenges and how the CR is a bit different now - nothing too major, just something to keep track of.

Sorry, "Thematic" was a bit vague.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-12-09, 05:02 PM
The "Thematic Changes" thing I was talking about was how you would have to change a RP/non-combat campaign using the skill challenges and how the CR is a bit different now - nothing too major, just something to keep track of.

Sorry, "Thematic" was a bit vague.
"Skill Challenges" are just a mechanic for when you wanted to structure a non-combat Encounter. Things where you plan to have the Players roll a lot of checks and so forth.

Also: There's a lot of difference between a "RP Campaign" and a "Non-Comabt Campaign."

A "RP Campaign" doesn't need mechanics to work and can be done in any system. As I said before, 4E Skill Challenges work well for simulating prolonge social interactions such as banquets and negotiations.

A "Non-Combat Campaign" isn't really suited to any edition of D&D. I'd suggest trying Burning Wheel instead.

EDIT:
Oh yeah, CR.

The DMG gives advice on building Encounters using the concepts of "Encounter Levels" and "XP Budget." Follow what it says and you won't go wrong.

tcrudisi
2010-12-09, 05:04 PM
The "Thematic Changes" thing I was talking about was how you would have to change a RP/non-combat campaign using the skill challenges and how the CR is a bit different now - nothing too major, just something to keep track of.

Sorry, "Thematic" was a bit vague.

Ahh, I see. Yes, there's no CR mechanic any more. Instead, it's a experience point budget where the monsters are worth so much xp and you spend up to your budget to get a level-appropriate encounter.

You don't really have to change RP/non-combat settings just to incorporate skill challenges. In fact, trying to force a skill challenge is the wrong way of going about it. You know those situations that require several successful skill checks to accomplish your goal? Well, that's really what a skill challenge is. All they've done is put a fancy label on it and counted it as an encounter so the PCs will get experience for it. It's simply a way of giving out xp for rp/non-combat encounters. You never have to actually use it. Your players want to find out some obscure information? One streetwise check works fine. Your players want to find out some rare information that only one person in the world knows? It's going to take more than one streetwise check. Perhaps a streetwise check to learn who the guy is, streetwise to find out where he likes to stay, perception to find him once you get there, and bluff/diplomacy/intimidate to convince him to tell you what you need to know. That sounds more like a skill challenge, but it certainly doesn't need to be one. And you can RP it out or just roll it out (depending on your playstyle). Skill challenges really don't change anything except as a great reason to hand out xp outside of combat and as a wonderful idea to turn events outside of combats into events that are very memorable.

Saph
2010-12-09, 05:26 PM
Skill challenges really don't change anything except as a great reason to hand out xp outside of combat and as a wonderful idea to turn events outside of combats into events that are very memorable.

Oh, they're memorable all right - but not necessarily for any positive reasons. :smallwink:

Again, I recommend to anyone planning to run 4e that you take a long hard look at Skill Challenges before deciding to use them. They can very easily become both boring and frustrating.

Personally, I found when I was DMing 4e that the best way to handle Skill Challenges was to ignore the DMG completely. Just call for skill checks as they're required - if the PC needs to jump something, call for an Athletics check, if they need to hide call for a Stealth check, and so on. Then figure out how much XP it was worth after the event.

Tvtyrant
2010-12-09, 05:31 PM
Any chance they are going to update Spelljammer to 4E? They never did to 3.5, and it saddens me.

Urpriest
2010-12-09, 05:36 PM
Any chance they are going to update Spelljammer to 4E? They never did to 3.5, and it saddens me.

Given Dark Sun and Gamma World...I could definitely see it happening. Not something I've heard rumors about though.

tcrudisi
2010-12-09, 05:38 PM
Oh, they're memorable all right - but not necessarily for any positive reasons. :smallwink:

Yes, many are quite boring. But the best ones are truly wonderful. If you were to ask my fiancée her favorite D&D moments, she would mention quite a few skill challenges before anything else. (There are two in particular that I remember as being just flat-out awesome enough to rank as two of my top D&D moments.) They can be amazing.

And they can also be complete garbage. With that, I will agree.

Doug Lampert
2010-12-09, 06:06 PM
Well, perhaps I can only react to my previous GM's implementation of it.

Our campaign ended at 10th level. Our GM used the parcel system (as far as I was aware, at least) until about 8th level, at which point we were pretty much begging him to equip us with something more, as none of us had more than 1000g or any magic items above 5th level.

By the time the campaign was over, all he'd done was dump a level 8 and a level 13 magic item in our laps (each).

The parcels for levels 1-7 add up to:
1 Level 2 item
2 Level 3 items
3 Level 4 items
4 Level 5 items
4 Level 6 items
4 Level 7 items
4 Level 8 items
3 Level 9 items
2 Level 10 items
1 Level 11 item
15,600 GP

Your party should have recieved ALL of this for a party of 5.
That gives EVERYONE three items of level 6 or higher with extras to spare.

If you had no items above level 5 at level 8 then you weren't using parcels. Not even CLOSE.

DougL

The Glyphstone
2010-12-09, 06:33 PM
Whoa whoa - what the heck is meant by this? Bards and Warlords are certainly not overpowered by any stretch. They are both good at what they do, but so is every class in 4e. Or did you mean they were underpowered? They aren't that, either. They are strong leaders. The Warlord is amazing at enabling his allies to do wonderful things; the Bard is great at positioning his allies where they need to be and rocking out-of-combat situations. They can both heal well, but that's true for every leader (except the cleric who can be downright amazing at it). So really - I'm confused by this statement. What are you trying to say about Bards and Warlords?

I think you misread it - I look at "Bard/Warlord", the terminology that would have meant 'multiclass Bard and Warlord' in 3.5, and mentally translate it into 4E's 'hybrid Bard-Warlord', though I think most people render such as Bard|Warlord. If that's the case, it might be that Hybrid Bardlords are underpowered, due to Leader Overlap.

Tvtyrant
2010-12-09, 06:37 PM
Given Dark Sun and Gamma World...I could definitely see it happening. Not something I've heard rumors about though.

Curses I want Spelljammer to be updated! And possibly refluffed to make more sense in a planey-verse.

Loren
2010-12-09, 06:37 PM
with skill challenges the players should know they are doing one. They aren't substitutes for skill checks. Rather they are guidelines for skill based encounters. They give you an appropriate DC level for players of a given level and the difficulty you want the challenge to be. the "Complexity" of the challenge refers to how long it is expected to take.

Anyways, there are plenty of sources about the if you google.

As for CR, all the monsters have an assigned level, but that level doesn't mean its an appropriate encounter for a party of that level. Rather, it's an encouter for a character of that level. But there are exceptions. Minions are each a fourth of a standard monster their level as its expected that they will come in groups of four. Elites are equal to two standard monsters at there level. Solos are equal to 5 standard monsters at their level as they are expected to challenge an entire party.
When building an encounter the simple equation is to put in one monster of appropriate level for each character. The DMG gives guidelines for creating a wider range of encounters (using the xp budget you can do alsorts of amazing things).

WitchSlayer
2010-12-09, 07:30 PM
Make sure, if you have someone who has the ritual casting feat, for them not to switch it for Alchemy, as it is it's kind of bad.

Besides, rituals are AWESOME, they're really the thing that creates the epic wizard-y feel, I mean come on, lifting up AN ENTIRE PIECE OF LAND? Crazy cool.

Edit: Also I DO hope they update Spelljammer, they already added the vehicle itself in the Manual of the Planes, also, 7e Gamma World is extremely fun.

kyoryu
2010-12-09, 07:33 PM
1. Character customization is about powers, not multiclassing. There's far more variation within each class than I recall in 3.x (without multiclassing, that is).

2. As said before, characters are all roughly Tier 3. This may annoy people who like being Tier 1. Not much you can do about that.

3. Combats should be against multiple foes. Pretty much always. Add difficulty by adding foes, not by adding levels.

4. Understand your monsters. Have them work together. 4e provides a good framework for making interesting encounters by allowing lots of unique monster abilities - use it!

5. Most encounters are designed to deplete resources (healing surges, etc.). Understand this and work with it. Especially, realize that...

6. Extended rests can only be taken 12 hours after the last one completed. Don't allow the 15 minute day. If player insist on waiting 11 hours after each combat to get another extended rest, add a time constraint, or interrupt their rest time.

7. Refluffing is your friend. If you need an enemy or a power, see if you can refluff an existing one. If not, see if existing ones can be combined or tweaked for the desired result.

8. Make stuff up. 3.X uses complex mechanics combined in interesting ways to create uniqueness and memorability. 4e uses exceptions to relatively simple rules, refluffing, and new powers. Feel free to make new abilities wholesale if you need to, just compare them against existing abilities to get a feel for appropriate power level. Don't feel constrained by "official" rules or creatures. It's your game, make it memorable!

9. Say yes! If players want to do something, use p. 42 as a guideline. Worst case, say "Yes, but..."

10. Use terrain to your advantage - 4e has a lot of powers that have movement (including forced movement) effects. These are awfully dull on an infinite, featureless plain.

RebelRogue
2010-12-09, 07:37 PM
The guidelines for skill challenges are just that - guidelines. Try running a few as written, but in general, don't be afraid to tweak the concept in whatever way you see fit and/or make sense to you. If you happen to have the DMG2, there's some interesting examples there (though getting the book just for that is a bit overkill, at least at first. It's a good book, though).