Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ElfWarriorGuy

    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    United States
    Gender
    Male

    Default First Time Running 4th Edition

    I'm looking for some starting pointers for DMing 4th Edition. I played a session or two back when it was still current, decided it wasn't really my thing. But my girlfriend has recently said that she prefers it to most other editions of the game, and would really like to play some again. I said I'd try to organize a mini-campaign (2-4 sessions) with some of our friends.

    I have a decent amount of experience in D&D 3.5, AD&D, and some other systems, but the vast majority of my experience as a DM is in 5th edition. For anyone who is familiar with both editions, what do I need to change about the way I approach running the game, going from 5e back to 4e? Do I need to structure adventures differently? What rules should I focus on learning for my first time?
    Le désir de paraître habile empêche souvent de le devenir.
    The desire to appear clever often impedes actually being so.

    Ce qui nous rend la vanité des autres insupportable, c'est qu'elle blesse la nôtre.
    What makes the vanity of others offensive is the fact that it wounds our own.

    Les querelles ne dureraient pas longtemps, si le tort n'était que d'un côté.
    Arguments don't last long if the fault is only on one side.

    -Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Christopher K.'s Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Mythical Land of Nebraska
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Catullus64 View Post
    I'm looking for some starting pointers for DMing 4th Edition. I played a session or two back when it was still current, decided it wasn't really my thing. But my girlfriend has recently said that she prefers it to most other editions of the game, and would really like to play some again. I said I'd try to organize a mini-campaign (2-4 sessions) with some of our friends.

    I have a decent amount of experience in D&D 3.5, AD&D, and some other systems, but the vast majority of my experience as a DM is in 5th edition. For anyone who is familiar with both editions, what do I need to change about the way I approach running the game, going from 5e back to 4e? Do I need to structure adventures differently? What rules should I focus on learning for my first time?
    I think the biggest thing to focus on is that you're going to want a variety of monster roles to make a combat encounter feel interesting. Each monster has in its stat block an advertisement on how it's supposed to behave, and checking that and Chapter 4 of the DMG will help you immensely. And to remember that "Solo" monsters really shouldn't ever be by themselves - sprinkle a few minions or traps into the fight as well at the very least.
    The not-so-secret identity of Nat1Advice.
    I also write more serious 5e content on my blog, TBM Games.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2016

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    I heartily recommend setting aside much of what you probably know considering simulationist play in other editions of D&D in favor of player-facing, narrativist play. The game is designed around scenes (ie, the encounter, be it combat, social, and so on): skip to the action. There are many player-facing elements to the game, from APs to themes to interrupt powers that allow for significant protagonist play as opposed to playing through a GM's preconceived notion of "the adventure," so frame scenes around PC's dramatic needs. Don't try to overprepare; the game's easy and well-designed monsters (including roles and EL math) and terrain elements make it easy to improv cool and interesting components that engage PC-driven play rather than sit around in static preplanned encounters waiting to be discovered by the PCs. Skill challenges should be dynamic and never preplanned mechanically (beyond needed successes before 3 failures); each resolved check should snowball the action by changing the fiction in some significant way and presenting a new decision point (and opportunity for action declaration and skill roll) of pressing exigency to the PCs.
    Through a series of unfortunate events, my handle on the WotC boards was darkwarlock.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Borris's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Montreal QC, Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    Try to favor monsters from Monster Manual III, Monster Vault, Threat to the Nentir Vale, and other later books. Earlier sources had monsters with too many hp and not enough damage-dealing powers, making for fights that dragged on unnecessarily. A typical fight shouldn't last more than 4 or 5 rounds.

    In doubt, look for "MM3 on a business card" to see what numbers should look like with the updated balance.
    Last edited by Borris; 2021-04-16 at 05:49 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    Learn to say yes to your players.

    Not "yes, but it won't actually do anything".
    Not "yes, but you'll have to make an attack roll and a skill check, and then the other guy gets a save against it".
    Not "yes, but just use one of your default powers and refluff it to what you just said".
    (since all of those actually mean "no")

    But actually yes.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
    Crystal Shard Studios - Freeware games designed by Kurald and others!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    As far as rules go, the one I’d make a point to remember is the action economy. Everyone gets a Standard, Move, and Minor, and they can be freely downgraded on a 1:1 basis. If someone has three minor actions they want to use, they can go for it (barring any “once per turn” stuff that would be listed in the ability.)

    Beyond that, 4e has relatively few rules that aren’t explicitly stated in an ability. Look over what abilities your players have, get a feel for bursts vs blasts, and look up any conditions as needed before a particular encounter.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfPirate

    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Seattle, WA

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    4E's greatest strength (IMHO) is the fun tactical combat. Forced movement, varied areas for AOEs, and the importance of positioning all make the combat arena's features far more important than in other editions, even for the most standard of fights. Include things like fireplaces, ditches, cliffs, rough terrain, trees, etc. to take full advantage of this and let your players (and monsters) maneuver around them while manipulating their foes.

    I'm not sure whether this was a house rule or not, but my group played that if forced movement pushed someone into an obstacle, both they and the obstacle took 1d6 damage for each square left in the forced move. Endlessly entertaining, especially slamming minions together to KO both.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darths & Droids
    When you combine the two most devious, sneaky, manipulative, underhanded, cunning, and diabolical forces in the known universe, the consequences can be world-shattering. Those forces are, of course, players and GMs.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Realism, the natural predator of D&D mechanics.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Keledrath's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    GMT -5
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticallyPsyco View Post
    I'm not sure whether this was a house rule or not, but my group played that if forced movement pushed someone into an obstacle, both they and the obstacle took 1d6 damage for each square left in the forced move. Endlessly entertaining, especially slamming minions together to KO both.
    Absolutely a houserule, and one to be very careful with. it's not hard to get very large instances of forced movement even at low levels if you try.
    I follow a general rule: better to ask and be told no than not to ask at all.

    Shadeblight by KennyPyro

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    As far as structuring your adventures, I would consider prepping fewer, but bigger, fights. A lot of the talk about combat length in 4e is overblown, but it certainly lends itself to occasional big set piece encounters over multiple little fights relative to 5e. Lean into that.

    Skill challenges take some time to wrap your head around, but here’s what they address. 1. Some problems are narratively important enough that they should require more than one skill check to resolve. Slay the Dragon takes more than one die roll, Convince the Duke should as well. 2. Such an encounter carries an element of risk and should grant XP just like a combat encounter. Once you’ve got that mindset, then they start to come together. Yes, you should still narrate the effects of the successes and failures and telegraph important mechanical information to the players without breaking immersion, just like you would in any other game.

    Another thing I’ve found running 4e compared to other versions is that I spend less time adjudicating results and more time explaining results.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    d6 Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    It's still just D&D, once you get some facility with the system you can more or less make it feel like you want it to feel. I think the above advice that relates primarily to playstyle cant be pretty much ignored. You are also not stuck with the way the books or the modules suggest that the game should be played, there is rarely anything in the mechanics that requires it. I generally use it to play something like late 70's/early 80's Basic or AD&D, and it can be done with very little modification.

    Hit points are even more abstracted than in other editions because of how healing surges and short rests work. I find it conceptually helpful to think of HP as more a measure of fatigue.

    One thing to keep in mind is that low-level humanoids are often weaker in relation to the power of (for instance) a first level character than they would be in AD&D. So an AD&D hobgoblin is about the equivalent of a level 5 or 6 standard monster in 4e, whereas most of the 4e hobgoblins are around level 3. An AD&D gnoll is like a level 6 or 7 standard monster, a bugbear or an ogre is like a level 6 elite monster. So for the same challenge, you need to either make the monsters more powerful or throw more of them at the PCs.

    Also, the level progression is a bit different than you would expect in terms of when certain types of utility spells kick in. It is a really rough guide, but in general the sorts of resources you expect players to have at level 1 don't kick in until level 2, the sorts of spells available at level 3 (i.e. second level spells) don't start showing up as spells or rituals until around level 6, and the sorts of spells you expect at level 5 start to show up around level 10. So level 1-5 in AD&D or 3e more or less corresponds to be level 1-10 in 4e, although the difference slows down after that. My rule of thumb in converting modules from other editions is to double the AD&D target level if it is level 1-5, or add 5 to it if it is level 6-17 (I don't have a good rule for after that).

    The advice above about using the more recently published monster books (like Monster Vault) is absolutely accurate and will provide a much better play experience. Also, you need the errata for the DMG to get the right math for skill checks and improvised damage expressions.

    Combat can slow down if you or your players have trouble making decisions. This can be mitigated if your players use martial characters from the "Essentials" line; it also helps if you don't let them have too many out-of-turn powers (free actions, reactions, interrupts).

    It is okay to hate skill challenges. You do not have to use them.

    For one edition, and one edition only, scale armor is more protective than chain.

    Until and unless your players learn to optimize, it is really hard to break the game. Especially in Heroic tier. Until that happens, contrary to much of the advice you will see, you don't have to fuss too much about game balance. Don't worry about too much treasure or too little (although if you are really stingy on armor, weapons, implements and/or magic items you should use the "inherent bonus" rules), just run the game the way you want.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Catullus64 View Post
    I'm looking for some starting pointers for DMing 4th Edition. I played a session or two back when it was still current, decided it wasn't really my thing. But my girlfriend has recently said that she prefers it to most other editions of the game, and would really like to play some again. I said I'd try to organize a mini-campaign (2-4 sessions) with some of our friends.

    I have a decent amount of experience in D&D 3.5, AD&D, and some other systems, but the vast majority of my experience as a DM is in 5th edition. For anyone who is familiar with both editions, what do I need to change about the way I approach running the game, going from 5e back to 4e? Do I need to structure adventures differently? What rules should I focus on learning for my first time?
    OK. 4e for beginning DMs. 4e is an excellent game that was released as an early beta and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And apparently your players know what they are doing. So for DMs.

    1: The out of combat experience is similar
    4e is presented bare bones with the expectation that the DM and the players cover the mechanics slightly (encounter powers are simply abilities that recover after a short rest; the 4e approach is more succinct but because it doesn't directly reference the short rest people find the 5e presentation more inspiring rather than 4e's bare bones making you do the work).
    • In 4e a short rest is five minutes and for this reason players expect to get them; it's the time spent bandaging wounds, cleaning weapons, looting bodies, taking a swig of water etc. They may occasionally be interfered with - the 5e hour long short rests are a lot harder to justify.
    • 4e scales more strongly than 5e (not that this matters in a short campaign). Instead of proficiency bonuses only ticking up occasionally the PCs gain +1 to all defences, +1 to attacks, and +1 to saves every two levels. This is commonly agreed to be a design mistake.
    • Because of this the 4e target numbers scale with the expected level of the PC doing the thing.
    • 4e characters have effectively about twice the recovery in their "healing surge" reserve as 5e ones do in their "hit dice" (same basic idea). But some of the 4e abilities that some see as healing are allowing people to spend their own healing surges in combat. Warlords shouting at people "Stop lying down on the job you wimp. My old granny could do better" like a marine drill sergeant are fun and can cover the lack of a cleric.
    • No one will care if you use Advantage from 5e rather than situational modifiers out of combat.

    But ultimately out of combat 5e and 4e are probably more alike than any other two editions other than 3.0 and 3.5. Rituals came straight out of 4e - as did the ability for non-casters to go above and beyond.

    2: Ignore the stuff released undercooked.
    1a: Ignore the Skill Challenge rules - they are an excellent tool for new DMs to be able to handle ridiculous PC plans, but if you're an already experienced DM then I expect you don't need the help and the writing round the tool is confusing so you're better off not using them.
    1b: They tightened up the 4e monster design over the course of the edition. The monster books you want are Monster Vault and Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale. (The MM3 and Dark Sun Creature Catalogue are usable using the updated math, but the solos/boss monsters aren't normally good enough). If you're experienced 4e monsters are really easy to make (all you need is the below) but the published ones are good.


    3: Combat in 4e is its own focus

    4e combat is a huge thing. It's slower than in 5e and don't even try to do "incidental fights" where the PCs have obviously overwhelming power - or theatre of the mind. On the other hand it's more tactical (even if more complex) than 5e, more visceral, and it makes combat in most other RPGs feel like acting against a green screen.

    For that last the key thing is forced movement. When half the PCs and about a quarter of the NPCs have abilities that push their enemies around. This means that any interesting terrain isn't just drawn on the map for people to side-step. It means that if there's a pit trap there will be a genuine and sincere attempt to throw someone in it because you can do this without giving up all your damage with a bull rush. (A couple of 5e classes can do this such as one of the Battlemaster options and the Open Hand Monk but it's very common in 4e). A fight by a camp fire? Someone's going in it. The docks? Someone's going for a swim as they are in drainage ditches or open sewers. And throwing sorcerers through their own summoning portals in the middle of combat is awesome. This means that if the GM is putting some interactive terrain feature (or something like setting the ground on fire as the kobolds throw oil and set it alight) into every fight then every fight will be its own separate tactical challenge. And if they aren't it's going to be relatively static and nowhere near as memorable as people square up. You don't need big complex maps full of bridges or to be fighting in truly exotic locations - but if you are then the way you use terrain in 4e is going to make it more interesting and memorable - and as mentioned because the interesting parts of the terrain are all in play with people throwing each other around it makes other games feel like green screen acting.

    Combat in 4e is complex and tactical with too many abilities having modifiers. For the modifiers get a collection of things like coloured paperclips and put them on the affected models to represent things, Also to play up the tactics you need to use a mix of monster types - some melee and some ranged at a minimum. (The monster roles really help here). It's a lot less interesting to fight five nearly equal monsters than three sword and board and two archers. On a tangent one of the places where I think 5e made a really poor decision was finesse weapons for NPCs; if the orc gets their feet glued to the floor they draw and throw a javelin and lose almost no damage - while the archer switches from longbow to shortsword and all that happens is their damage dice drops from d8 to d6. In 4e the archer is likely to be artillery and do 25% above baseline damage at range and 25% below in melee - while the orc brute with the greataxe is the other way round. Oh, and prone is a much bigger thing in 4e than 5e.

    And combat in 4e is more visceral. The PCs are tougher than either you or they think - and it will look often as if you're winning and they pull things back in a tough fight - this is deliberate design and part of the reason 4e characters have so much endurance. But you can more or less trust the CR system in 4e the way you can in few games - and just going shopping out of Monster Vault will let you throw together an improvised fight in seconds.
    Currently in playtesting, now with optional rules for a cover based sci-fi shooter.
    Games for Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and Silver Age Marvel. Skins for The Gorgon, the Deep One, the Kitsune, the Banshee, and the Mad Scientist

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfPirate

    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Seattle, WA

    Default Re: First Time Running 4th Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by neonchameleon View Post
    For the modifiers get a collection of things like coloured paperclips and put them on the affected models to represent things.
    Oh yeah. The whole post is full of good advice, but this in particular is a real aid. My group used tiny colored rubber-bands/hair-ties that could be hung directly on the minis, color-coded so you could tell at a glance who had the Ranger's Hunter Mark, who was being Challenged by the Avenger, what characters were bloodied, etc..
    Quote Originally Posted by Darths & Droids
    When you combine the two most devious, sneaky, manipulative, underhanded, cunning, and diabolical forces in the known universe, the consequences can be world-shattering. Those forces are, of course, players and GMs.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Realism, the natural predator of D&D mechanics.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •