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Orsen
2011-09-22, 12:28 PM
Hello everyone!
My friends and I are all busy university students who don't find ourselves with much time to play any DnD, let alone deal with leveling and other homework that normally occurs outside of a session. Two of us have experience with pathfinder (and 3.5) and the other 3 have minor experience with 3.5.
With this in mind, is 4e any easier then pathfinder for leveling and out of session work? I have not actually played it yet but I'm inclined to think it is from what I've read.
I'm don't want to start an argument over which system is better overall, I'd just like to know people's experience and opinion on the ease of character management for either game.
Thanks!

Sipex
2011-09-22, 12:39 PM
4e is slightly easier in the idea that it's really really hard to create a bad character, take a useless feat, etc. So if you're low on time you guys don't need to spend as much time optimising because you'll still have functional party members who can contribute.

Otherwise...no not really. Takes about the same amount of time.

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 12:47 PM
You have more experience with Pathfinder, so my inclination would be to recommend you stick with that if you're unsure.

With regards to leveling up, 4e generally just has you pick a power and/or a feat, and the stat-ups at levels ending in 1, 4, and 8. Very few totally dead levels in that regard. Pathfinder's difficulty in level-up work is entirely dependent on your class. Spellcasters have a longer list of things to work with than most anyone else does, though guys with lots of extra feats will need to take time to figure those out.

JackShandy
2011-09-22, 01:00 PM
If your DM is also busy, I would recommend 4E as encounter design is generally considered to be a lot easier than in d20 systems.

Seerow
2011-09-22, 01:07 PM
If your DM is also busy, I would recommend 4E as encounter design is generally considered to be a lot easier than in d20 systems.

This.


You really can't stress how much easier it is to build a balanced encounter in 4e. It's literally "Look at your party's level. See how many people they have? Grab one monster of their level for each PC. You now have an equal level encounter". If you want fewer big monsters, or more weak monsters, you have elites/solos/minions that handle that, and the rules work reasonably well for using higher and lower level monsters (within a 2-3 level range, past that it gets kind of hard just because of the much higher defenses and attack bonuses).

As opposed to in 3.5, and presumably pathfinder as well, CR is crap. It is an absolutely worthless measurement of the actual challenge it poses to a party, because this is a system that assumes a 20th level human fighter with 1/5th normal WBL is an equivalent challenge to a party as a Balor or a Tarrasque. You could pick a creature with a CR lower than the party and accidentally TPK them, or a creature far above the party and have it get massacred, so rather than going straight by the system (which 4e allows) in 3.P you need to intimately know what each of your PCs is capable of and judge each encounter against that. That requires a much higher level of system mastery and more time.

Sebastrd
2011-09-22, 01:58 PM
4E requires significantly less prep time on both sides of the DM screen, but especially for the DM. I highly recommend it if time is a factor.

Blisstake
2011-09-22, 02:08 PM
As opposed to in 3.5, and presumably pathfinder as well, CR is crap. It is an absolutely worthless measurement of the actual challenge it poses to a party, because this is a system that assumes a 20th level human fighter with 1/5th normal WBL is an equivalent challenge to a party as a Balor or a Tarrasque. You could pick a creature with a CR lower than the party and accidentally TPK them, or a creature far above the party and have it get massacred, so rather than going straight by the system (which 4e allows) in 3.P you need to intimately know what each of your PCs is capable of and judge each encounter against that. That requires a much higher level of system mastery and more time.

They actually did a remake of the CR system in PF, and balanced the CRs of a lot unusually high or low CR enemies. I believe NPCs have closer to PC WBL, and are counted as a CR lower than they are in 3.5 (A level 20 fighter is CR 19, for example). It is, of course, not a perfect system still (especially with optimized groups where the power differences between casters and non-casters becomes far more evident), but it's a lot less worthless than I felt it was in 3.5.

The problem with 4th edition's encounter levels is that recent enemies they've been creating are much more powerful than their original monsters. This is mostly because the original enemies in the MM weren't nearly strong enough to challenge a group of PCs of the same level, although there will still the weird math differences, which made it so enemies were really hard to hit, but didn't really do much damage. Overall, if you stick to the newer enemies, 4th edition probably has a better system for measuring encounter difficulty.

It's also important to consider that 4th edition is balanced along the idea that you will be having multiple encounters per day. If PCs know that they only have one encounter left, or one in the whole day, they'll blow all their powers on that one, and go through completely unscathed. While still a concern in PF, not every class there are limited by daily abilities. In both versions, at high levels, you will spend a lot of time calculating all your bonuses per turn from various abilities. I'm not sure which system this is worse in.

Overall, I'd recommend 4e if you're doing a custom campaign, or Pathfinder if you're doing pre-generated campaigns (less GM work). Ideally you should try both out, but I think 4e is a safer bet.

Hiro Protagonest
2011-09-22, 04:14 PM
4E requires significantly less prep time on both sides of the DM screen, but especially for the DM. I highly recommend it if time is a factor.

I don't buy it.

And the combats last forever (seriously, do you know how long it takes each week to get through the SINGLE ENCOUNTER for D&D Encounters?).

Also, Pathfinder is free!
Official PRD (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/)
Third-party SRD with more stuff (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/)

Orsen
2011-09-22, 04:32 PM
Thanks for the advice everyone! I'm gonna be giving 4e a try and seeing how I like the system overall before I make a decision but I appreciate the insight!
I'm also glad I got real information from people. I've been running into edition wars too much lately when I'm just looking for some non-bias (or non-bias enough) experiences and information.

WitchSlayer
2011-09-22, 05:08 PM
I don't buy it.

And the combats last forever (seriously, do you know how long it takes each week to get through the SINGLE ENCOUNTER for D&D Encounters?).

Also, Pathfinder is free!
Official PRD (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/)
Third-party SRD with more stuff (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/)

About an hour or less in my experience with it. Although this is only when you have a party who is familiar with their powers and decent with tactics and the like.

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 05:12 PM
And the combats last forever (seriously, do you know how long it takes each week to get through the SINGLE ENCOUNTER for D&D Encounters?).

Combat lasts as long as it will need to: if you've got players who are fairly on top of things, you'll only take a few minutes per turn, adding up to maybe an hour or two for the encounter. In my experience, that's actually a fairly good pace for an even-ish fight. Ever play BattleTech? Now there's a game that will take you a while to play through one fight.

On the other hand, you could make all of the players in 3.5 or Pathfinder play Psionics, Martial Adepts, or Spellcasters. If they're on top of things, they'll take only a bit to figure out what would work best in their situation. If not, then they'll be flipping through the books, trying to see what each of their things do, then figure out which one will work best... mostly the same as in 4e, though the numbers will be different.

Kaun
2011-09-22, 05:44 PM
I don't buy it.

And the combats last forever (seriously, do you know how long it takes each week to get through the SINGLE ENCOUNTER for D&D Encounters?).


I think he meant the out of session prep time is a lot quicker for 4e, which after running both games i would have to agree.

EDIT: Based on having equal or similar base of knowledge for each system.

But you are all so right in the fact that fights can take longer in 4e, much longer in fact but that all comes down to;

4e Encounter.
DM: Ow no monsters appear!
Players: We fight them!
2hrs later
DM: Yay you won!
Players: Yay loot!

3.5 Encounter
DM: Ow no monsters appear!
Players: We Magic them!
5 mins later
DM: Yay you won!
Players: Yay 8hr rest!
:smallbiggrin:

Seriously tho bets on time till all out edition war in thread?

To early to vote strawberry?

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 05:55 PM
3.5 Encounter
DM: Ow no monsters appear!
Players: We Magic them!
5 mins later
DM: Yay you won!
Players: Yay 8hr rest!
:smallbiggrin:
Unless he whips out magic immunity or something, where the fight will get dragged out because he just nixed the #1 source of rocket tag.

To early to vote strawberry?
Yes. Chocolate Cookies & Cream already won. :smalltongue:

Kaun
2011-09-22, 06:05 PM
Unless he whips out magic immunity or something, where the fight will get dragged out because he just nixed the #1 source of rocket tag.

True that,

At the end of the day the system isn't key to a good game. Both systems have good and bad points but as the OP asked which system requires less prep time out of game 4e win's unless your DM has a very good or higher knowledge of the PF system.


Yes. Chocolate Cookies & Cream already won. :smalltongue:

Think of the calories!

WitchSlayer
2011-09-22, 06:05 PM
Yeah. The thread seems to already be done. Should probably be locked before it breaks out into an edition war.

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 07:35 PM
Think of the calories!

Probably not much more than the others, honestly. I could go check. (But that would be effort)

Aasimar
2011-09-22, 09:56 PM
One thing that I think distinguishes the two.

In 3.5/pathfinder, so long as you come prepared with your character, and the GM is pretty well on top of the rules and confident in his ability to handwave things away where he isn't sure, you can run a session that is mostly exploration and interaction.

In 4e, combat takes forever, especially at higher levels. My group basically stopped playing because we didn't want to play a tactical wargame with an RPG-skin.

It all depends on what sort of experience your group is after. In my view, 3.X does adventuring and storytelling better.

stainboy
2011-09-22, 09:58 PM
I don't buy it.

And the combats last forever (seriously, do you know how long it takes each week to get through the SINGLE ENCOUNTER for D&D Encounters?).


Me neither. You'll have to homebrew more of your monsters in 4e, and homebrewing in 4e is more work.

Regardless it probably doesn't matter. Which one is easier is probably less important than which one supports your approach to D&D. PF and 4e don't support the same playstyles or the same kinds of stories.




As opposed to in 3.5, and presumably pathfinder as well, CR is crap. It is an absolutely worthless measurement of the actual challenge it poses to a party, because this is a system that assumes a 20th level human fighter with 1/5th normal WBL is an equivalent challenge to a party as a Balor or a Tarrasque.

I agree with you, but it probably doesn't matter for the OP's needs. CR is busted and needs to be fixed, but it won't influence an experienced DM's choice of system because they already know it's busted and don't rely on it. For this thread the comparison should go like this:

4e Pro: You can usually rely on the XP budget system for published monsters.
Con: XP budget is no help for homebrewing, and if you make an encounter too hard there's not much the PCs can do about it.

3e/PF Pro: PCs have a lot more ways out if you accidentally make an encounter too hard.
Con: You have to eyeball everything rather than trusting CR. Published monsters are more likely to be blatant TPK bait. (Read SLA lists carefully.)

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 10:12 PM
In 3.5/pathfinder, so long as you come prepared with your character, and the GM is pretty well on top of the rules and confident in his ability to handwave things away where he isn't sure, you can run a session that is mostly exploration and interaction.
...That has nothing to do with the system. Seriously. Exploration/interaction sessions feel the same to me whether it's 4e, 3.5, BESM, or Mekton. Biggest differences are in player and DM style and setting.

In 4e, combat takes forever, especially at higher levels.
Only if you're not prepared for it. If you know what you're doing and the DM avoids sending out too many MM1 Solo Soldiers, you should be fine. Also, you can follow the guidelines suggested by the developers in answer 3 of this Rule-Of-Three article. (http://wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ro3/20110912)

Me neither. You'll have to homebrew more of your monsters in 4e, and homebrewing in 4e is more work.
Not for monsters... basically, you plug in the numbers for the challenge level and role you want, eyeball any odd abilities with other monsters of a similar level and role, and you're done. It's even easier if you have access to one of WotC's monster creator toolsets, since it'll not only automatically fill out the numbers but also give you easy reference to look up and modify existing monsters for comparison.

Seerow
2011-09-22, 10:19 PM
Not for monsters... basically, you plug in the numbers for the challenge level and role you want, eyeball any odd abilities with other monsters of a similar level and role, and you're done. It's even easier if you have access to one of WotC's monster creator toolsets, since it'll not only automatically fill out the numbers but also give you easy reference to look up and modify existing monsters for comparison.


Yeah, I don't get where 4e is worse for homebrewing monsters. Homebrewing classes in 4e is something I wouldn't want to do, but homebrewing a monster is litterally a 5-10 minute process. During my stint of DMing 4e about half of my monsters were homebrew to some degree or another, and I never had any trouble with encounters being too wild and hard to predict. After all, the majority of the numbers of the same, you're just plugging in some power you think is appropriate in place of the normal powers.

On the other hand, in 3.5 I enjoy homebrewing classes, but wouldn't touch 3.5 monsters with a 10 ft pole.

stainboy
2011-09-22, 10:27 PM
Not for monsters... basically, you plug in the numbers for the challenge level and role you want, eyeball any odd abilities with other monsters of a similar level and role, and you're done. It's even easier if you have access to one of WotC's monster creator toolsets, since it'll not only automatically fill out the numbers but also give you easy reference to look up and modify existing monsters for comparison.

Unless I'm misunderstanding something you said, you just made a monster with no powers.

The process for generating the numbers is more or less the same. In 4e you're making a Brute 9 instead of a Giant 9 but it's still just plugging a level and class/role into a bunch of functions. But then in 3e you pick feats and SLAs out of the PHB, and in 4e you write powers from scratch. That's more work.

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 10:43 PM
Unless I'm misunderstanding something you said, you just made a monster with no powers.

The process for generating the numbers is more or less the same. In 4e you're making a Brute 9 instead of a Giant 9 but it's still just plugging a level and class/role into a bunch of functions. But then in 3e you pick feats and SLAs out of the PHB, and in 4e you write powers from scratch. That's more work.
Nope. Basic melee attack: standard melee attack/damage. If appropriate for role/level, add effect. If ranged (usually Controllers and Skirmishers, always Artillery), add a ranged basic attack. If Controller, give it a multi-target power, targeted debuff, or forced movement. If it's a Soldier, make sure it has some kind of melee control (mark or movement). If it's a Leader, give it an ally-buffing power. If it's a Skirmisher, let it move in and out swiftly. If it's a Lurker (Lurkers are harder than the others), give it a way to ambush and/or get away. Unless it's the most simplistic of monsters or a minion, add in an encounter power that deals more damage and/or has extra effects.

If it's Elite or Solo, make sure the extra powers include at least one at-will that targets multiple opponents, and make an encounter power recharge. If you're stuck, crack open your Monster Manual and crib off of another monster of the same role.

So long as you keep within those guidelines, not only have you just quickly created a monster, you've quickly created a monster that should be roughly equivalent to others of its level and role.

Seerow
2011-09-22, 11:01 PM
Unless I'm misunderstanding something you said, you just made a monster with no powers.

The process for generating the numbers is more or less the same. In 4e you're making a Brute 9 instead of a Giant 9 but it's still just plugging a level and class/role into a bunch of functions. But then in 3e you pick feats and SLAs out of the PHB, and in 4e you write powers from scratch. That's more work.


Creating a power from scratch isn't hard if you already know what you want the monster to do. If not, there's plenty of monsters you can look to as a reference, and could even steal/modify their powers for your job. Coming up with one or two powers is FAR easier than first having to determine the HD, extrapolate all the stats from that, then go find a bunch of feats, then pick spells and/or SLAs. And god forbid you want to use class levels.

Mando Knight
2011-09-22, 11:06 PM
And god forbid you want to use class levels.

Or calculate a reasonable CL...

MeeposFire
2011-09-23, 01:00 AM
Yeah, I don't get where 4e is worse for homebrewing monsters. Homebrewing classes in 4e is something I wouldn't want to do, but homebrewing a monster is litterally a 5-10 minute process. During my stint of DMing 4e about half of my monsters were homebrew to some degree or another, and I never had any trouble with encounters being too wild and hard to predict. After all, the majority of the numbers of the same, you're just plugging in some power you think is appropriate in place of the normal powers.

On the other hand, in 3.5 I enjoy homebrewing classes, but wouldn't touch 3.5 monsters with a 10 ft pole.

Funny I feel the same way. Creating classes such as what is found in the 4e PHB is exceedingly time consuming. Creating new powers or class feature. Monsters are much the same. Heck take a standard monster and change the powers to what you need boom new monster. You don't have to look up what kind of HD, BAB, and saves a particular monster type will have give it effective feats, spells, or treasure. Also trying to predict the challenge an encounter in 3e will be is very difficult especially with classes of very different "tiers". The DM's job is much easier in 4e due to increased abstraction and more consistent rules in creature creation.

As a player I find 3e fun and interesting (as I do for AD&D and 4e for that matter though for different reasons) but as a DM I no longer wish to do it (and this is after I simplified the process such as replacing treasure on enemies with modified VoP to avoid giving out too much treasure while having tougher enemies). I am still willing to play AD&D both ways as is true with 4e but 3e would take begging for me to DM again.

stainboy
2011-09-23, 01:14 AM
Coming up with one or two powers is FAR easier than first having to determine the HD, extrapolate all the stats from that, then go find a bunch of feats, then pick spells and/or SLAs. And god forbid you want to use class levels.

I seriously don't know what you're talking about here. In both systems you need class/role and HD to calculate derived stats. The differences are:

-PF usually gives you one correct number, 4e has you pick from a small range of numbers.
-PF monsters get their "class" from either racial type or actual class levels, 4e monsters get their "class" from role.

Until you get to feats/SLAs or powers you do more or less the same number of operations.

E: I can't say that you or MeeposFire didn't find 4e monster building easier, I'll take your word for it. I'm just saying I didn't, even back when 4e was new and I really wanted to like it. I've also seen other people say they didn't.

Mando Knight
2011-09-23, 02:11 AM
Look, here's how easy it is to make a basic monster in 4e. Let's go with your average Fightan Man with sword & board. I'll follow the steps in the DMG, page 184, using the errata's tables where they differ.

1.) Level. Let's make him a level 8.

2.) Role. Sword & Board means he's probably a Soldier.

3.) Ability Scores: This is a little iffy, but you can use your idea for the monster to guide it. Strength is the most important to him, followed by Dexterity and Constitution. Maybe a bit of Wisdom and average-ish Intelligence and Charisma. Average for (a monster's) primary stat is ~16 + level, and average for secondary stats is ~13 + level. Let's give him 20 Str, 17 Con and Dex, 15 Wis, and 10 each for Int and Cha. Noting that we gave him a lower Wis and his Str is the highest stat, we'll knock a point off his Will later, but boost his Fortitude.

4.) HP: For a Soldier, the book's value is 8 + Con + 8*level. So with 17 Con and level 8, he'll have 25 + 64 = 89 HP.

5.) AC: Again, he's a Soldier. Since he has average Dexterity, he probably has the listed AC for his role. Since that's 16 + level, he'll have 24 AC.

6.) NADs: The other defenses fall into place... his Fortitude should be about 22, Reflex about 20, and Will about 19. Maybe bump his Reflex up to 21 or 22 to remind ourselves he's got a shield.

7.) Powers: The hardest bit. Let's give him three: a basic attack, a mark retribution attack, and a heavy hitting strike to try to knock out a PC.

8.) Attack Bonuses: The attack bonus against AC is about 5 + level, so the attacks will be +13 vs AC.

9.) Set Damage: The basic damage for his level is 2d8+7, so we don't need to alter the dice for a longsword. His heavy attack will be stronger by 25-50%, so let's tack on an extra d8 for that one. The mark retribution attack will follow the pattern of the Fighter, so it'll just let him use his Basic attack again.

10.) Additional Details: Just write up a description or something. Initiative is roughly level + role bonus, and add a couple skills.

In the end, we get this:

Fightan Man
Init: +10
HP: 89
AC: 24 Fort: 22 Ref: 22 Will: 19
Senses: normal, Perception +11
Speed: 5

Standard Actions:

Sword Attack (Melee Basic, At-Will): One target, +13 vs AC. Hit: 2d8+7 damage and the target is marked until the end of Fightan Man's next turn.
Heavy Strike (Melee, Encounter): One target, +13 vs AC. Hit: 3d8+7 damage and the target is marked until the end of Fightan Man's next turn.

Immediate Actions:

Painful Reprimand (At-Will, Immediate Interrupt): Trigger: an adjacent enemy marked by Fightan Man shifts or makes an attack that does not include Fightan Man. Effect: Fightan Man uses Sword Attack against the triggering enemy.

Stats
Str 20, Con 17, Dex 17, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 10
Trained Skills: Perception +11, Intimidate +9, Athletics +14
Alignment: Who cares?
Equipment: Longsword, Heavy Shield, Scale Armor

Most of the time it took me was in writing the post, not figuring out the guy. Even though I made him up on the spot. Yeah, a more complex character would take more time, but with Pathfinder even a simple warrior needs to note his feats and so forth, and he might not be a proper challenge for his opposing players. This guy I can almost guarantee you could just drop into a level 8 encounter and the players probably won't notice that I made him up with just the one page of the DMG and a couple updated tables. He might be a little bare-bones compared to other monsters, but he's equipped to do the job I gave him.

Kurald Galain
2011-09-23, 05:31 AM
And the combats last forever (seriously, do you know how long it takes each week to get through the SINGLE ENCOUNTER for D&D Encounters?).
That is a point. I find that often, 4E combats become tedious after a few rounds (which is to say, more than an hour of playtime). You can tell by the players' reactions that they're getting tired, bored, or disinterested. Of course, this is a good moment to call off the combat, but the outcome may not necessarily be clear at this point. Predictably, the issue is aggravated by higher levels, inexperienced or unprepared players, and large groups.

While I agree that 4E has a reasonably short preparation time, I don't agree that preparing 3E needs to take a long time. It seems to me that "oh noes 3E takes forever to prep" is one of those memetic statements that message boards exaggerate out of proportion and run with. I can probably prep a decent 3E session in 20 minutes.

Hiro Protagonest
2011-09-23, 12:04 PM
And god forbid you want to use class levels.

Yeah. If I ever DM 4e, I'm ignoring those rules and making it the same as a PC.

Mando Knight
2011-09-23, 01:39 PM
Yeah. If I ever DM 4e, I'm ignoring those rules and making it the same as a PC.

More work and too swingy, especially since a monster has no reason not to nova. Trust me, you're better off building an opponent as a monster.

Nero24200
2011-09-24, 08:51 AM
I would say 4e favors tactics within a fight whilst Pathfinder (like 3.5 before) seems to favor preparation instead. It's ironic that the game set-up seems to have a similer feel in that game preparation for 4e is pretty quick with the fight's acting a little longer while in Pathfinder game preparation can take a lot longer.

One thing to note is that if you're making an NPC fight for 4e be careful. PC classes are made under the assumption that the PC's will have a whole day of questing, so if the NPC's are only in one fight they have no reason not to Nova. Not to mention that many monsters deal slightly less damage and have more HP than PC's of the same level, so combat could be pretty lethal.

GungHo
2011-09-26, 03:00 PM
One thing to note is that if you're making an NPC fight for 4e be careful. PC classes are made under the assumption that the PC's will have a whole day of questing, so if the NPC's are only in one fight they have no reason not to Nova.
You could counter this with "but the NPCs don't know they're only in one fight", but yeah... if I was sitting there, minding my business, and some circus comes to town trying to work up a Number 6 on the village, even if it's an Evil Village, I'm darn sure using all my dailies.