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Thread: Miss 4e D&D

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Miss 4e D&D

    I miss this version of D&D. Iím really hoping that with what is going on with the franchise that they would come back to this version of the game, make some tweaks to it and rebrand it as Dungeons and Dragons Tactics. Because what Iím seeing on these forms are people actually do want 4e they just donít want it to look like 4e.

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    I feel that last sentence. Keep seeing people describe what they want and what they want to get away from and it sure sounds a hell of a lot like 4e a lot of the time.

    EDIT: Not to say I don't miss this game, too. It's just my situation is more no games than other games, but if I did play it's likely to be 4e.
    Last edited by Waddacku; 2024-01-11 at 10:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfunion View Post
    I miss this version of D&D. Iím really hoping that with what is going on with the franchise that they would come back to this version of the game, make some tweaks to it and rebrand it as Dungeons and Dragons Tactics. Because what Iím seeing on these forms are people actually do want 4e they just donít want it to look like 4e.
    Quote Originally Posted by Waddacku View Post
    I feel that last sentence. Keep seeing people describe what they want and what they want to get away from and it sure sounds a hell of a lot like 4e a lot of the time.

    EDIT: Not to say I don't miss this game, too. It's just my situation is more no games than other games, but if I did play it's likely to be 4e.
    Funny thing (to me) is that PF2e, which gets widely touted by people leaving 5e at least, is IMO 4.75e. Ok, some changes, but the basic philosophies and a lot of the balancing mechanics are basically 4e's design in different clothes. Shows how much presentation and hype (or anti-hype) matters for popular acceptance.

    Personally, I think that 4e had a lot of really good ideas. And then, as with most WotC things, they implemented them haphazardly and half-baked. A 4e, but this time polished, might actually be quite interesting. I'm not as much a fan of super-crunchy and tactical play these days, but I'd gladly play it as a side-game.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    From what I've read, 4e was developed with the intent of making D&D work much more like a video game. At a given level, all characters had much the same capabilities, just in different wrapping.

    If I want a video game, I'll play a video game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Funny thing (to me) is that PF2e, which gets widely touted by people leaving 5e at least, is IMO 4.75e. Ok, some changes, but the basic philosophies and a lot of the balancing mechanics are basically 4e's design in different clothes. Shows how much presentation and hype (or anti-hype) matters for popular acceptance.
    And the funny thing about that is that as far as I can tell, every common criticism of why 4e is bad is more true for PF2, but it's still preferred by people who say they can't stand 4e... I haven't looked at it in depth, though, but that's also in part because when I look at it that's what it comes across as. I don't have the experience to claim this to be more than an impression, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinn View Post
    From what I've read, 4e was developed with the intent of making D&D work much more like a video game. At a given level, all characters had much the same capabilities, just in different wrapping.
    I don't have any interest in starting a fight and dragging the thread down the edition war path, so I'm just going to say that I don't think either of those things are true. It is designed to work well with a virtual tabletop, it took encounter design lessons from games like World of Warcraft, and (most) characters have similar numbers of active abilities at a given level.

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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    4e had its problems, but I don't think it deserved to die the way that it did.

    Quote Originally Posted by paladinn View Post
    From what I've read, 4e was developed with the intent of making D&D work much more like a video game.
    I'm not sure exactly what you've read, but while 4e was more 'gamey' in approach than 3e, and probably harder to play without a VTT or miniatures, it was always unmistakably a tabletop game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Funny thing (to me) is that PF2e, which gets widely touted by people leaving 5e at least, is IMO 4.75e. Ok, some changes, but the basic philosophies and a lot of the balancing mechanics are basically 4e's design in different clothes. Shows how much presentation and hype (or anti-hype) matters for popular acceptance.
    Quote Originally Posted by Waddacku View Post
    And the funny thing about that is that as far as I can tell, every common criticism of why 4e is bad is more true for PF2, but it's still preferred by people who say they can't stand 4e... I haven't looked at it in depth, though, but that's also in part because when I look at it that's what it comes across as. I don't have the experience to claim this to be more than an impression, though..
    It's because PF2e presents itself in a non-4e way and keeps a few trappings from 3.5/PF1. Spell slots are still a thing, narratively opposed classes don't have any similar abilities, "roles" are enforced quietly instead of openly (the rules don't tell you there are actual roles, but there most definitely are), etc. In case of comparisons to 4e, it is very much a matter of presentation...

    It's a case of every single major D&D-like post 4e release trying to redo 3e corebook and somehow getting rich off it. PF1 did that and forgot half the parts that actually made 3.5 good. 5e did that and forgot even more about 3.5 that was worth keeping and implementing into the game as a baseline. PF2 did that and forgot that 3.5 was more than it's lowest common denominator gameplay type.

    The desire to make "3e CRB, but done right this time" seems evident to me, as is the success of that scheme. And I will never understand why, because the 3e/3.5e CRB is by far the worst book of that edition, and emulating its' worst parts somehow gets one a successful TTRPG.
    Last edited by Ignimortis; 2024-01-12 at 05:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddacku View Post
    I don't have any interest in starting a fight and dragging the thread down the edition war path, so I'm just going to say that I don't think either of those things are true. It is designed to work well with a virtual tabletop, it took encounter design lessons from games like World of Warcraft, and (most) characters have similar numbers of active abilities at a given level.
    I'll echo and second this, but the only similarity is that some things have cooldowns... except a lot of things in 3.5 already worked like that. You had SLAs attached to so many martial-friendly PrCs that only worked 1/day (a daily ability) or that had multiple uses per day but durations greater than 1 minute (encounter powers). And there were already abilities usable all day, every day. Consider the Primeval: it worked similarly to Barbarian (an ability that you'd only use once per encounter but lasted most of the encounter), but also had multiple uses per day.

    The biggest sin of 4e imo is that they simplified and streamlined all rules text such that it didn't read like a fantasy ability (unless you read the flavor text). If all you did was read an ability mechanics-block, all you'd see is mechanical information (keywords and effect descriptions).

    Obviously WoW was a big deal, even early on (released Nov 2004). But consider the fact that the bones of 4e (and really the earliest builds) were being written in late 2005 to mid 2006. A lot of it was scrapped for work on Tome of Battle, which released in August 2006. The South Park WoW episode came out in October 2006. Obviously, it was a big thing, even when Tome of Battle was being written. But also, 4e was being developed when WoW was still rising in popularity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ignimortis View Post
    It's because PF2e presents itself in a non-4e way and keeps a few trappings from 3.5/PF1. Spell slots are still a thing, narratively opposed classes don't have any similar abilities, "roles" are enforced quietly instead of openly (the rules don't tell you there are actual roles, but there most definitely are), etc. In case of comparisons to 4e, it is very much a matter of presentation...
    Agreed. Many people don't look far below the surface, so if the trappings are familiar, they don't get peeved even though the underlying reality is different. 4e didn't preserve the trappings, hence the pained shrieks. Cheese got moved.

    Which isn't totally invalid of a complaint, but the complaints about 4e got way out of proportion to the actual underlying issues. Which there were--4e was half-baked in a lot of ways to be sure.
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    Hmm I havenít looked at PF2 yet, guess it is something to look into.

    I think 4e was just trying to be a fun game where all the players had something cool to do each turn.

    It also simplified combat on the DMs side. The DM could select a player level and look for monsters of the same level instead of calculating challenge ratings.
    4 minions(Xlvl) can fight 1 player(Xlvl)
    1 normal monster(Xlvl) can fight 1 player(Xlvl)
    1 elite monster(Xlvl) can fight 2 players(Xlvl)
    1 boss monster(Xlvl) can fight 4 players(Xlvl)

    With the introduction to the Monster Manual on a business card, it made encounters even easier.

    The changes I would make would be to simplify/reduce the d20 number and implant the bounded accessory system. This would make many powers obsolete or require changes. But this could mean that they could just squish 30 levels down to 10-15 levels.

    Another thing to bring up in my ramblings is that skill proficiencies didnít become obsolete with higher levels. For example, in 5e, the Knock spell completely opens the lock while in 4e, the Knock power allows the wizard to use their intelligence modifier for the open locks roll. This is but one example out of dozens or so skill challenges.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Funny thing (to me) is that PF2e, which gets widely touted by people leaving 5e at least, is IMO 4.75e. Ok, some changes, but the basic philosophies and a lot of the balancing mechanics are basically 4e's design in different clothes. Shows how much presentation and hype (or anti-hype) matters for popular acceptance.
    I think it also shows how important it is for your marketing to line up with your gameplay. Both PF2 and 4e were advertised as mathematically tight with a strong focus on encounter balance, but PF2 delivered on that a hell of a lot better. No 2-month emergency errata, no forgetting to account for weapon expertise, no "we got the monster math right this time for real please buy MM3".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfunion View Post
    I miss this version of D&D. Iím really hoping that with what is going on with the franchise that they would come back to this version of the game, make some tweaks to it and rebrand it as Dungeons and Dragons Tactics.
    I do miss the tactical combats of 3E, 4E, and PF, but I don't seem to have players in my area that also want that. 5E is by design not tactical at all, and I find PF2 full of fiddly little things that sound like they make a difference but that in practice don't. $.02

    I'm still amazed by how quickly 4E vanished overnight. At least in my area, there was no gradual decline with hangers-on; in about a month's time, almost simultaneously, all home campaigns and convention games switched to other systems.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    It's the edition I cut my D&D teeth on, and it's the only edition where I feel comfortable when I open the books back up, even after years. It all comes back.

    I've been getting some of the same feel from Icon, which feels like it took a lot from 4th. It's been nice!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I'm still amazed by how quickly 4E vanished overnight. At least in my area, there was no gradual decline with hangers-on; in about a month's time, almost simultaneously, all home campaigns and convention games switched to other systems.
    I mean, heck, look at the Playground. Right now, 4e has 3 posts, counting the stickied ones. The 3.5 board has four pages of posts. Now, some of that is Pathfinder, but even if it's 80-90% Pathfinder, 3.5 still has way more adherents than 4e.

    As I've said before, I am not a huge 4e fan... towards the end of my group's time with it, I would just say "Hey, make me a character and I'll play them." I didn't want to deal with it. But there's a good amount of stuff in there, and some good design ideas, even if I was not enthused overall with the system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I'm still amazed by how quickly 4E vanished overnight.
    If they kept their online support tools for 4e, than Iím sure there would still be a lot more players for the edition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfunion View Post
    I miss this version of D&D. Iím really hoping that with what is going on with the franchise that they would come back to this version of the game, make some tweaks to it and rebrand it as Dungeons and Dragons Tactics. Because what Iím seeing on these forms are people actually do want 4e they just donít want it to look like 4e.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Agreed. Many people don't look far below the surface, so if the trappings are familiar, they don't get peeved even though the underlying reality is different. 4e didn't preserve the trappings, hence the pained shrieks. Cheese got moved.
    I've recently been getting into Lancer, which borrows a surprising amount from 4e--particularly when it comes to presentation. And I have to say, even with ~15 years of gaming obsession experience, there was something kind of jarring about running into "range: 5 spaces" and "size 2 obstacle" and suchlike again. I wouldn't go so far as to call it video-game-y, but it was kind of board-game-y. My friend Sam tried to run a game, and despite being one of the best and most-experienced GMs I know, the way she ran combat encounters turned into exactly the sort of rule-bound tactical wargaming that you generally don't want out of an ttRPG.

    Which is a roundabout way of saying that I think presentation alone was a significant reason the game got so much backlash. How much better received would it have been if powers were written out like traditional spells?

    Healing Word
    Conjuration
    Level: Cleric 1
    Tags: Divine, Healing
    Casting Time: 1 minor action
    Range: 25ft
    Target: You or one ally
    Duration: Instant
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: None

    You whisper a brief prayer as divine light washes over your target, helping to mend its wounds. The subject can spend a healing surge "point of Stamina" to regain hit points; when doing so, they regain an additional 1d6 hit points. This ability can only be used once per round. Once you've used it a second time, you cannot use it again for one encounter five minutes.

    At Cleric level 6, 11, 16, 21, and 26, increase this bonus healing by 1d6, to a maximum of 6d6 at level 26. In addition, beginning at Cleric level 16, you can use this ability three times per encounter before needing to rest.
    -------------

    All of which is an excessively long-winded way of saying: I completely agree. If the brain squirrels ever compel me to write a true fantasy heartbreaker, 4e is a much better starting point than 3e or 5e. Heck, my d20 Exalted hack wound up looking more like 4e than either of its component systems (Exalted 3e and Mutants and Masterminds).
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2024-01-14 at 08:25 PM.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    I, too, miss 4e D&D. So dang much. I tried 5e when it came out and only lasted a few sessions. My group just stopped playing TTRPG's altogether and just made the switch over to board games. I didn't play any RPG's at all until I got back into WoD (Werewolf 5e specifically) when that came out. That was refreshing, and it is a fantastic system that quickly jumped up to my #2 of all-time... but I still have that 4e itch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I've recently been getting into Lancer, which borrows a surprising amount from 4e--particularly when it comes to presentation. And I have to say, even with ~15 years of gaming obsession experience, there was something kind of jarring about running into "range: 5 spaces" and "size 2 obstacle" and suchlike again. I wouldn't go so far as to call it video-game-y, but it was kind of board-game-y. My friend Sam tried to run a game, and despite being one of the best and most-experienced GMs I know, the way she ran combat encounters turned into exactly the sort of rule-bound tactical wargaming that you generally don't want out of an ttRPG.
    I think that's part of the sell for Lancer. As someone I know put it:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eitan
    Lancer is ultimately a mecha wargame that understands its core audience wants to tell stories about why these fights matter rather than just play BattleTech
    In my experience, this mentality shows up in 4e communities as well. Lancer, PF2, 4e, the Gloomhaven RPG, the MCDM RPG, they all have this same grounding design philosophy: They are tactical wargames with rules-heavy combat, paired with a simple system that bridges between those combats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    I think that's part of the sell for Lancer. As someone I know put it:



    In my experience, this mentality shows up in 4e communities as well. Lancer, PF2, 4e, the Gloomhaven RPG, the MCDM RPG, they all have this same grounding design philosophy: They are tactical wargames with rules-heavy combat, paired with a simple system that bridges between those combats.
    I agree with this. One data point--I actually own a 4e-era board game that's basically just a dungeon generator with pregen characters with enough tooling to make it runnable without a DM (even solo). The actual rules are pretty much 4e, just slightly stripped down to avoid the mass of extra content. Actually works quite well.
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    lol I think I have one of those too, mine is Driz'zt themed.

    A lot of games with these philosophies lend well to board games or video games. 4e had its board games and arguably the Neverwinter MMO, the Gloomhaven RPG started as a board game, PF2 is small but has Quest for the Golden Candelabra, Lancer has the in-development Lancer Tactics. The recent playtest of MCDM's RPG shows strong influences from Colville's video game background as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    lol I think I have one of those too, mine is Driz'zt themed.

    A lot of games with these philosophies lend well to board games or video games. 4e had its board games and arguably the Neverwinter MMO, the Gloomhaven RPG started as a board game, PF2 is small but has Quest for the Golden Candelabra, Lancer has the in-development Lancer Tactics. The recent playtest of MCDM's RPG shows strong influences from Colville's video game background as well.
    Mine's the Ashardalon one. Mainly bought it for the minis--turns out they're kinda...well...not the best quality for painting and reuse. So most of them aren't painted or are half-painted. And I'm not sure I still have all the original pieces to the game. Kept the interlocking tiles, because that makes a fairly cromulent battle map that's easy to piece together as needed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    They also couldn't do things that the fluff might suggest but that the power description would not allow, which felt constricting, and gave the impression that inventive play wasn't allowed. And WotC's rulings were based strictly on text, and AFAIK they never told a DM how he could adjudicate actions that attempted the fluff rather than following the crunch. Some guidance on adapting (or really, express permission to adapt) DMG p. 42 to already existing powers would have been helpful.
    That's a good point. It's one reason I really like when systems have a metagame resource of some sort-- it gives the GM wiggle room when deciding if an off-book action should work. "That's not quite what the power does by RAW, but if you give me a hero point I'll let it work this time."
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    On "Powers don't do that", I think some of it can also come down to DMs. I recall one encounter against torturers with heated brands, where my wizard used Ray of Frost to turn them into metal clubs. BTB, probably wouldn't work, but a good DM will be able to say "Yeah, that's cool!"

    But, again, "Can be fixed by a good DM" isn't the same as "not a problem."
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by LibraryOgre View Post
    On "Powers don't do that", I think some of it can also come down to DMs. I recall one encounter against torturers with heated brands, where my wizard used Ray of Frost to turn them into metal clubs. BTB, probably wouldn't work, but a good DM will be able to say "Yeah, that's cool!"

    But, again, "Can be fixed by a good DM" isn't the same as "not a problem."
    But on the other hand, "not everything that was 'fixed' was a problem in the first place." What I mean is that just because one DM/table decided that they needed to 'fix' something (ie change something, make a ruling in a particular way, etc), that does not mean that the system has a problem. I "fix" things about every system I play on a regular basis, because I want to make the system more suited to me and my tables. I don't pretend that those things constitute actual problems with the system, only mismatches between what I want and what the system provides.

    If I want to use a pitchfork as a shovel, I'm going to have to make alterations. That doesn't make the pitchfork flawed.

    In this case, I'd say that a DM saying "yeah, that makes senes in this context" OR "nah, that doesn't make sense in this context" are both totally valid options. What isn't, IMO, a valid option is "the book doesn't say the DM can do this, so the DM can't." The text is not a binding contract, nor is any particular interpretation of the text (aka so-called "RAW"). TTRPGs are always "some assembly required"/"batteries not included." Maybe 4e should have included a piece of text somewhere (if they didn't, which they probably did, the 4e DMG was pretty good about this) that said "hey DMs, if a player asks to do something the power doesn't explicitly say it can do, decide if it makes sense in context of the fiction. If you're not sure, have them roll <some kind of appropriate check> to see if it works."
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by LibraryOgre View Post
    On "Powers don't do that", I think some of it can also come down to DMs. I recall one encounter against torturers with heated brands, where my wizard used Ray of Frost to turn them into metal clubs. BTB, probably wouldn't work, but a good DM will be able to say "Yeah, that's cool!"

    But, again, "Can be fixed by a good DM" isn't the same as "not a problem."
    Sure. I've had DMs run the full gamut from "yes, you can do anything you want with a Religion check just by praying for it", to "no, you cannot use combat powers because you're not currently in combat". Needless to say, neither of the extremes is all that much fun, and actual good DM'ing is somewhere in the middle.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by LibraryOgre View Post
    On "Powers don't do that", I think some of it can also come down to DMs. I recall one encounter against torturers with heated brands, where my wizard used Ray of Frost to turn them into metal clubs. BTB, probably wouldn't work, but a good DM will be able to say "Yeah, that's cool!"

    But, again, "Can be fixed by a good DM" isn't the same as "not a problem."
    I would also question whether the folks who like 4e actually want stuff like this. To quote someone from a 4e community I'm in, "I play 4e specifically because it is a cool cooperative skirmish wargame with extra bells and whistles and more character option combinations than there are atoms in the universe."

    You might get support from new players by doing this, but what will happen to the core folks who are currently engaged? What happens if EndlesNights / Scrivener doesn't pick the game up because of the new emphasis on "inventive play"?
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    I would also question whether the folks who like 4e actually want stuff like this. To quote someone from a 4e community I'm in, "I play 4e specifically because it is a cool cooperative skirmish wargame with extra bells and whistles and more character option combinations than there are atoms in the universe."

    You might get support from new players by doing this, but what will happen to the core folks who are currently engaged? What happens if EndlesNights / Scrivener doesn't pick the game up because of the new emphasis on "inventive play"?
    It seems to me that there are two different paths you could take if you wanted to develop 4e. You could--and let's be honest, probably should--lean into its identity as a small-scale wargame, and focus on streamlining and balance and such. But there's also a temptation to say "I like the AEDU power structure and healing surges and tight math, but the existing powers are too narrowly focused" and try to create something more like "classic" D&D. Which would be an interesting exercise in game design, but wouldn't have much appeal to existing 4e fans.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    It seems to me that there are two different paths you could take if you wanted to develop 4e. You could--and let's be honest, probably should--lean into its identity as a small-scale wargame, and focus on streamlining and balance and such.
    That's basically PF2 (which is also largely by the same designers), except that PF2 is much less tactical, and where 4E has a whole role dedicated to crowd control, PF2 doesn't have CC abilities. I'd say that PF2 is more balanced but less streamlined than 4E.

    But there's also a temptation to say "I like the AEDU power structure and healing surges and tight math, but the existing powers are too narrowly focused" and try to create something more like "classic" D&D. Which would be an interesting exercise in game design, but wouldn't have much appeal to existing 4e fans.
    And to be fair, that wouldn't have much appeal either to non-4E fans.
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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    I concur that leaning into the identity as a skirmish would be the way to go for a 4+1e. I've only read, not played, both Lancer and PF2e, but I can definitely see where each brought stuff from 4e.

    4e did have a problem with disociation between the fluff and the mechanics. Lancer fixes it by changing to a setting where the mechanics work better with the fluff (having limited ammunition or reload times fits into AEDU better). I think there are ways to reassociate 4+1e like making sure the fluff and effects of powers match better or having different power sources get AEDU-like effects in different ways (like having Martial heroes spend stamina like a 5e Battlemaster instead of literally having encounter powers).

    Spending bennies might be a good way to allow for things that probably should be allowed by the fluff but strictly speaking aren't by the rules (like the earlier example of extinguishing a firebrand with a frost spell).

    On the Orcus development thread, someone had linked a build-a-power wizard (I think) variant as an idea that didn't get used. This might also help with the dissociation (since players could build the power to work like they envision the power working) and would also cut down on the number of powers you have to print (since you'd only need a couple examples and then things that would be outside of what could be built).

    I am currently running 4e and my players are having fun. It probably helps that it's the edition that I'm most comfortable improving in and that only one of my players (my wife) has much experience with either 4e or 5e (and one of them hadn't played at all).

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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I'd say that PF2 is more balanced but less streamlined than 4E.
    Less streamlined than 4E...now there's a damning statement. That was a low bar to clear and they failed it (or maybe didn't even try?). 4E pretends to be streamlined, but it's actually got tons of nitty-gritty moving pieces that have to be carefully managed or the whole thing goes sideways. At character creation, adventure design, and at playtime. Plus just the absurd number of options and detailed jargon, which means learning what you're doing imposes a huge amount of mental overhead.
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