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    Default A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    I found this post over on EnWorld the other day, and I found it to be the best written post on 3x vs 4e I have seen yet. Obviously not everyone will agree with it, but give it a chance, its obviously been well thought out. It was originally posted by JDillard, and here is the link to the original thread it if you wish to read that.

    Quote Originally Posted by JDillard
    Got a long one here for you all.

    So I'm a long time lurker here on ENWorld. I decided it's finally time to start a thread. I've been playing 4th for a few months now, as an NDA'd friend of a couple WotC employees. While I can't discuss specifics, I can talk about impressions I've gotten, and I feel like I've got a good grasp of the feel of the game and how it works.

    Anyway... I'll get around to my point now.

    I keep seeing a lot of discussion on many, many threads regarding options. I see a lot of people, both pro and anti 4e, saying that the game is more constrained, you can't do as much with characters, so on and so forth.

    I've seen a lot of people try to argue the opposite. They've discussed "party optimization" instead of "character optimization", or compared a 1st level 3e fighter to a 1st level 4e fighter.

    Furthermore, in a not obviously apparent, related topic I've seen many, many arguments about how 4e is better in play than it looks from just reading the book. My own experiences agree with that one.

    Despite that, I and many others are having an absolute blast playing the game. So, why is that? If the game really is constricting, if there really are less options, then why is it that it's still so much fun? And how does that relate to the recurring theme that it's more fun in play than in read-through?

    Where did my options go? - The New Paradigm!

    3e - What we're familiar with:

    In the previous edition (3.x) which, to put it bluntly, the vast majority of us here are familiar with, the majority of character options were built into the character creation process. It started with the very strong modularity of the system. At any point, at any level, I can take my next level of whatever class I might want (assuming prereq's met). When I want to build a level 20 character, I've got 20 "units" of build, purely based off of class levels. I can take a bit here, a bit there, and go for it. Or I can take all 20 of one class.

    Even further, you've got feats and skills. Spellcasters have spells. Tons and tons and tons of options. Given enough time, with just the PHB, I can create hundreds of level 20 characters, all noticeably different. Admittedly, a lot of them would be poor to unplayable (10 Ftr / 10 Wiz for example). Still, that's a *ton* of options.

    However, once you've gotten your character built and you're actually playing the game, your options drop dramatically. With the exception of the open-ended spellcasters (and what I mean by that are the Wizard and Cleric types, who aren't constrained by a "spells known" maximum), the rest of the character types were still very limited in what sorts of actions they could take. This is definitely true in combat, but even expands into the non-combat arena.

    While your melee fighter type character can choose from many different options to begin with, once he's in combat he's got his one or two things he does over and over again. The heavy armor fighter runs up and stands next to the monster, hitting with his greatsword. The spiked chain fighter does his tripping, or his moving with Opportunity attacks. The rogue gets into flanking position and proceeds to sneak attack. This does not generally vary from combat to combat either, except in situations where the monster is somehow "immune" to whatever your schtick is (undead for the rogue, for example), and then you generally spend the time trying to come up with creative solutions that vary from brilliant to extremely frustrating for the DM.

    This isn't just in combat though. Given the lengthy skills list and the ability to have such variance in skill point allocation, you've got a couple different ways a character can be. You can specialize in a few select skills, maximizing their points for your level, or you can try to spread the points out into multiple skills. The first works throughout, but the second generally only works at lower levels. By the time you hit the double-digits your "ok at lots of things" concept starts to turn into "poor at lots of things", and then "barely able to do lots of things" at the top end.

    So suppose you stick with the familiar specialist concept. Given how lengthy the skill list is (40ish, right?) you really can only be *really really* specialized in a couple things. You take hide/move silent and great, you're fantastic it it. What do you do in game? You try to solve problems by sneaking around. You take Jump and Swim? What do you do? You try to find ways to jump or swim your way past challenges. From level 1 to level 20 you're trying to sneak past things or jump past things.

    So, to conclude and reiterate this point: 3e's paradigm is to provide you with maximal options at character creation. However, this comes at the cost of most characters losing options during actual play. The only exclusion to this is with the open-ended spellcasters, for whom options are maximized nearly throughout. I'll discuss this a bit later.

    4e - The New Game:

    Contrasting the 3e paradigm is the 4e one. And a contrast it definitely is, as the methods of the system seem designed to flip the situation around to its opposite.

    As much as we want to argue that 4e has lots and lots of options, and it does, comparing the sheer number of characters I can create with a 3e PHB and a 4e PHB the 4e one comes out far behind. The system is not modular in the same way. Once I pick my starting class, that's my class throughout. Now, as I level I do have the retraining option, so I can switch things out that I don't like with things that I do. That's nice, but it doesn't mean much when I'm simply creating a new character from scratch.

    There are a lot of feats, but they're largely restricted to a race or class. Multiclass options are there, but they mostly allow small uses of another class's power, not a full gaining of that class's skills. The skill list is significantly smaller and the mechanics of skill training and skill usage makes specialization difficult if not impossible in some cases.

    The arguments that I've seen for the value of these changes from both posters and designers focus on a couple things: Game balance and Fun. Game balance is easy to see. The "economy of actions" concept keeps the length of a combat round down, and keeps each players turn length fairly similar. The redesign of the wizard, in particular, means that all characters have a "chance to shine", rather than the wizard being able to do basically anything, with the right spell. Hit points are standardized, BAB's are standardized, skill values are standardized, all these things prevent a lot of the swingyness and mean that most characters, of any level, are going to be at least useable if not excellent.

    How about the Fun part though? Well, that comes in, in play. 4e's focus is not on Creation Options, but on Play Options. It's a hard concept to explain, but I'll do my best.

    Take something simple. Say there's a rogue power that damages an enemy and slides them three spaces (I'm sure there is, but not having played a rogue I don't know the names off the top of my head). It sounds like a simple thing, in read through. In play, it has amazing versatility. I can slide the enemy into flanking position, so next turn I can get to do Sneak attack. I can slide the enemy around the fighter, so if it wants to attack me next turn it has to deal with the fighter's "stickiness". I can slide it away, trying to protect a squishier wizard or warlock in the back. I can slide it off a cliff, into a trap, into a damage zone cast by a warlock or wizard, into rough terrain, and so on, and so on.

    It's one power with a simple read through, but once you're actually in combat it gives you a ton of options that are all dependant upon the specific combat situation you find yourself in.

    And that's just one of your powers. You've got others. Some deal more damage. Some might blind or immobilize a foe. Others might hit more than one foe at a time. And you can use them in whatever order you want. I can put myself in a position where sliding my foe might be useful, or if it's not, I can merely go for maximum damage. Maybe *now* is a good time to immobilize rather than slide, so I can.

    In 4e combat is constantly shifting. Monsters move around, traps and terrain change your ability to move or your reasons for it. The standard/move/minor action concept means you get just as much attack whether you stay in once place or you move around the field, so often it benefits you to reposition during a fight.

    Skill use is also adjusted in a similar manner. A reduced number of broader skills means that you can do more with any individual skill. Thievery now covers pick pocketing, sleight of hand, trap disarming, forgery, and maybe even disguise in some cases. One skill, lots of usability. Stealth now covers both moving quietly and hiding. Nature now covers handling animals, knowledge local (in the woods), knowledge nature, and even some alchemy in potion brewing (with the right ritual). Arcana covers both knowledge and spellcraft and even detect magic, as well as lots of rituals. When I choose a skill to train in 4e, I'm now choosing to be better at a long list of different, related things. I'm getting blocks of skills for one training, rather than excelling at individual parts of that block at the expense of other parts.

    And even further, rebalancing the way skills work to include the 1/2 level on a roll means that a character doesn't have to be highly trained and specialized to get use out of a skill. A wizard with decent dex can actually succeed at a sneak check now, just not as often as trained rogue. A non-charismatic dwarf might still be able to bluff his way through something. Sure, it'd be a difficult roll, but we're opening up more options during game play here. I wouldn't even try something like that in 3e because the way the system is designed, at mid-high levels your chance of success would be zero.

    So to conclude this part: 4e reduces the number of character creation options in the name of game balance, but vastly makes up for it in the amount of "in play" options available.

    Still reading? Thanks. Last part!

    Finally, to tie up the beginning with the end, here we go. So we keep seeing people saying "it doesn't read well, but when you play it, it's great!" Why? Well, look at what I just said. They took the options we're familiar with, and replaced them with options we're less familiar with. I look at the book and see only a few races, a few classes (both less or equal to what the 3e PHB had), with the removal of a lot of the complexity that character creation used to have. It's more simple to make, easier to "throw something together" and completely lacking in the beloved modularity of the previous game.

    You see powers that say "Do 2(w) and slide the target 3 spaces". Does that give you an excited tingle up your spine? No. It sounds pretty bland on paper.

    How about "Switch places with an ally as a move action", "Close burst 1, do some damage and teleport 5 + Int mod squares", "Gain concealment when you move more than 3 spaces", and "Gain +5 to sealth checks until the end of your next turn". Individually they all sound pretty simple, not very exciting...

    Then I see my buddy's fae-lock use a minor to activate his +5 to stealth checks, do a move to switch places with the fighter who's surrounded and getting beat on, use otherworldy stride to damage everyone around him and uses the teleport it gives to get himself out of being surrounded as a standard action, and then rolls a stealth check at the end because he trained in that skill and has concealment from his other warlock power. He makes a high stealth roll and the enemies can't see him.

    The fighter is saved, the monsters are hurt, confused, and can't retaliate on the guy who just screwed them, the DM is boggled and the warlock can sit back and bask in it. Those were "just encounter powers", he's still got his "powerful" dailies left.

    Bring on the 4e, bring on the in game options. I loved sitting around tinkering with character builds for hours, but I don't think I'll miss it much. I'm having too damn much fun actually playing the game!
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    I pretty much entirely agree with that.

    In playing 4th Edition, I've noticed players have a ton of options all the time, and have all kinds of cool choices to make and tactics to consider, and these things always vary by encounter and situation. You make less choices making a character, but so many more during play.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    This pretty much says what I've been saying, but in an expanded form and with more clarification.

    Excellent read. Thanks, Kabump.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    OK... so THAT's what I was missing! The all-so-fun creation process! I might give 4e yet another go...
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    ... The miniature of her certainly makes her look older, but personally I like young Erandis both on the basis that the purge of the line started before she could grow into her full powers, and also because it lets her and Jaela have a vicious catfight sometime.

    Maybe I'm playing a wrong game.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by JaxGaret View Post
    This pretty much says what I've been saying, but in an expanded form and with more clarification.

    Excellent read. Thanks, Kabump.

    Your welcome, although I did nothing more than bring this piece to attention. Agree or disagree with what it says, you will be hard pressed to deny it is very well written. Jdillard obviously put a lot of thought into that post, and its refreshing to see that after seeing some of the mindless stuff spewed out by both the pro and anti 4e people.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Indeed. I've spent the last week or 2 seeing exactly how far class builds can be stretched, and it isn't very far. Multiclassing feat in order to take another class's paragon path is about the limit of multiclassing.

    However, the powers are more than meets the eye, with regards to their flexibility. sure, most of them can be summarized into short term status effects and movement manipulation, but when and how to use them is the real issue. Utilities are even more unpredictable, and Dailies are the most unpredictable of all (Summoning, Teleportation, Stances, environment altering effects that last till end of encounter).
    Last edited by wodan46; 2008-06-15 at 09:44 PM.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    He has some good points. However I'm still waiting. I'm playing in a 4e game and I'm waiting for my powers to be more than meets the eye or give me this amazing variety of in-combat options that he talks about. Playing as a rogue in 4e I haven't done anything I didn't do in 3.x. My 2 cents.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    It misses the part where 3e is designed to give you a simulation to play out your fantasy/character, and 4e is designed to give you a fun, easy, casual game.


    If you play D&D to play a game with your friends, don't want to have to think about it too much, and want something that will facilitate your attitude, 4e is for you.

    If, on the other hand, you 'play' it to have a robust and modular ruleset to simulate your fantasy world and character in order to enable your roleplaying, 3e is for you.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    It misses the part where 3e is designed to give you a simulation to play out your fantasy/character, and 4e is designed to give you a fun, easy, casual game.


    If you play D&D to play a game with your friends, don't want to have to think about it too much, and want something that will facilitate your attitude, 4e is for you.

    If, on the other hand, you 'play' it to have a robust and modular ruleset to simulate your fantasy world and character in order to enable your roleplaying, 3e is for you.
    I disagree COMPLETELY with this assessment. Its obvious you don't like 4e, Ive seen as much from your posts, but this is just incredibly insulting. Maybe its your limitations, I see nothing in 4e that prevents me from roleplaying. Also, by your own logic, you are stating that 3e is neither: fun, easy, or casual.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    That's a nice review of the DnD minis game he posted there.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Zander View Post
    That's a nice review of the DnD minis game he posted there.
    And how does that contribute ANYTHING to the thread aside from attempting to be antagonistic?

    Anywho, my problem with the article..post..thing presented by the OP is that it concedes that there are two wholly-different design goals yet attempts to claim one set of goals as having more merit, whereas I've largely seen 3.X vs. 4ed as a matter of taste.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Kabump View Post
    I disagree COMPLETELY with this assessment. Its obvious you don't like 4e, Ive seen as much from your posts, but this is just incredibly insulting. Maybe its your limitations, I see nothing in 4e that prevents me from roleplaying. Also, by your own logic, you are stating that 3e is neither: fun, easy, or casual.
    I think you're reading between the lines a little bit too much here. He merely stated that 4th edition caters to a more casual audience, leaving behind the more "hardcore" RPers who were attracted to 3.x. And Kizara never stated roleplaying was impossible in 4th edition, merely that it seems like it's meant to attract people who are not as interested in heavy, in-depth roleplaying. Also, just because 4th Edition was labeled as fun, easy and casual and that 3.x was contrasted with it does not mean they share no properties; 3rd edition was most definitely fun, though perhaps not as casual (easy is subjective; I find it very easy to make a 3.5 edition character, but I pick up new things very easily).


    Also, I enjoyed reading this article. And I wasn't aware you could use multiple powers in conjunction. That's pretty cool, and I already thought the power system was a nice innovation.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Kabump View Post
    I disagree COMPLETELY with this assessment. Its obvious you don't like 4e, Ive seen as much from your posts, but this is just incredibly insulting. Maybe its your limitations, I see nothing in 4e that prevents me from roleplaying. Also, by your own logic, you are stating that 3e is neither: fun, easy, or casual.
    I'm not sure what the guy meant exactly, but I think it's part of "I want a character who can do these things. But the system sticks you so firmly into one role that can't do these things effectively without gimping yourself.

    "I want a Ranger who has dabbled in magic."

    Ok, pick one to be good at, and suck at everything else. Whereas in 3.5, you could play a Ranger and pick up a few levels of Sorcerer or Wizard or whatever and pick up some utility spells which would be useful even if your INT was only 13.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    *Double Pene- er... Post*
    Last edited by Crow; 2008-06-16 at 12:08 AM.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    While one of the better defenses of 4e I've seen I think there is a weakness in his basic point. I don't think that 4e provides all that much in the way of more options in play. Sure the Fighter now has lovely super attacks to use in combat versus just swinging his sword x number of times per round. However looking through the book I find that most of these options really don't amount to much. Many are just different ways to attack, which yeah rah-rah that's still attacking. Others seemed to be ways of moving and attacking.

    In 3.5 a Fighter attacked and moved around, in 4e this is still so. Now understand I don't think there is any real way to avoid this and still have the Fighter be a Fighter. However between 3.5 and 4e its only moderate improvement in options as I see it. Numerically there may be plenty, but redundancy moderates that. And having so many abilties dilutes those abilities from being as special an achievement. Its a lot of fluffy powers to keep track of for the same basic idea.

    Now for the other classes in 3.5... well so help me I think every other class had either skills, spells, or special abilities of some sort. I'm not going to say that all of these abilties were as good as they could/should be, but they were there to be used. If they were too low on the balance, then that can be corrected by tweaking the basic 3.5 system. The very modular design talked about in the first post allows you to correct for imbalances without changing the structure. A mage spell is broken, rewrite that spell's descripton then wash rinse and repeat for others.

    I understand what WotC was trying to do with 4e, but its a case of trying too hard. Or maybe trying to do too many things at once without thought.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    I'm not sure what the guy meant exactly, but I think it's part of "I want a character who can do these things. But the system sticks you so firmly into one role that can't do these things effectively without gimping yourself.

    "I want a Ranger who has dabbled in magic."

    Ok, pick one to be good at, and suck at everything else. Whereas in 3.5, you could play a Ranger and pick up a few levels of Sorcerer or Wizard or whatever and pick up some utility spells which would be useful even if your INT was only 13.
    Well you could totally pick up the Ritual Caster feat... but then you can suddenly raise the dead, which might be a bit further than "Dabbling" ought to bring you... Anyway, it's working out okay for one of our characters who's a Rogue who dabbles in simple rituals to help with his lootery...
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin Sage View Post
    While one of the better defenses of 4e I've seen I think there is a weakness in his basic point. I don't think that 4e provides all that much in the way of more options in play. Sure the Fighter now has lovely super attacks to use in combat versus just swinging his sword x number of times per round. However looking through the book I find that most of these options really don't amount to much. Many are just different ways to attack, which yeah rah-rah that's still attacking. Others seemed to be ways of moving and attacking.

    In 3.5 a Fighter attacked and moved around, in 4e this is still so. Now understand I don't think there is any real way to avoid this and still have the Fighter be a Fighter. However between 3.5 and 4e its only moderate improvement in options as I see it. Numerically there may be plenty, but redundancy moderates that. And having so many abilties dilutes those abilities from being as special an achievement. Its a lot of fluffy powers to keep track of for the same basic idea.

    Now for the other classes in 3.5... well so help me I think every other class had either skills, spells, or special abilities of some sort. I'm not going to say that all of these abilties were as good as they could/should be, but they were there to be used. If they were too low on the balance, then that can be corrected by tweaking the basic 3.5 system. The very modular design talked about in the first post allows you to correct for imbalances without changing the structure. A mage spell is broken, rewrite that spell's descripton then wash rinse and repeat for others.

    I understand what WotC was trying to do with 4e, but its a case of trying too hard. Or maybe trying to do too many things at once without thought.
    You have a point there... by trying to do EVERYTHING it runs the risk of being bland across the board...

    However one thing I'd like to note about 4e's design strategy is, indeed a reduction of overall options... in that in 3.5 it was a little intimidatiing to say "I want to be a WIZARD" and then your DM plops 4 books in front of you and says "Pick some level 0 and 1 spells now." you've now got to sift through 4 books every time you want to pick your spells to put into your spellbook. God help you if you're a Cleric, because then you can choose ANY of them...

    Which means every time you want to prepare a spell list for a unique occasion you need to go through all of these books repeatedly, comparing spells to eachother and figuring out which ones to pick, which can either bog down game time, or fill up your out of game time, and some people have better things to do. Quite a few people find this trait of the game endearing, as there's a sort of Kickass feeling one can get from knowing they made the right choice... However others are just irritated at having to wait a half-hour for the cleric to get his sheet together... An issue that can be solved easily by doing it beforehand, but not everyone has that kind of time...

    4e decided to do away with that complexity and simplify it's ruleset with a very set number of abilities at specific levels. Streamlining the system for speed and more tactical fun than speculative fun. It's now become a matter of taste. Which I am completely okay with.
    Last edited by Skyserpent; 2008-06-16 at 12:47 AM.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyserpent View Post
    However one thing I'd like to note about 4e's design strategy is, indeed a reduction of overall options... in that in 3.5 it was a little intimidatiing to say "I want to be a WIZARD" and then your DM plops 4 books in front of you and says "Pick some level 0 and 1 spells now." you've now got to sift through 4 books every time you want to pick your spells to put into your spellbook. God help you if you're a Cleric, because then you can choose ANY of them...
    Or he might plop one book in front of you, flip to the chapter titled "Spells" and tell you to pick from there.

    3.5's problems with splat books are not 4.0's successes. Likewise, 3.5's successes with splat books are not 4.0's problems.

    People need to compare core with core, on both sides.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Zander View Post
    3.5's problems with splat books are not 4.0's successes. Likewise, 3.5's successes with splat books are not 4.0's problems.
    True, but this ignores the fact that while we have only the core books now, there will be splatbooks released for 4e.

    Quote Originally Posted by JZ
    People need to compare core with core, on both sides.
    Sure.

    And then, when the splatbooks come out, we can compare splats to splats.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    I'd like to clarify my post a bit, and respond to some people's comments on it.
    (the forums died for me for the past like 3 hours)

    1) I don't actually disagree with the OP article's primary points, although I feel some details are off. However, I feel its tone slants towards 4e and is not neutral. Although I will echo the sentiments that the "we have so many more options in play now!" is not really true. I was pointing out a very important aspect of system difference he didn't cover, and attempting to cover it myself very briefly.

    2) What I meant by easy is the following:
    -Less to learn.
    More stripped-down ruleset is easier to learn, because there is less of it. It is also, more-or-less clearly written and with a tone that is easy to understand, although less professional then 3e.

    -You can't make a bad character, only marginally less optimal ones.
    Retraining rules coupled with very limited character build/creation options and having most abilities improve automatically with level (attack bonus, skills, etc) means you can't screw up your character without actively trying to. In 4e, everyone is important and contributes, largely to the same degree, and you can't really change that signifigantly by better design choices. This is intentional.

    -Harder to die.
    Lots of hp and healing ability means its very hard to die if you play remotely intelligently. Coupled with alot less save-or-screwed spells around, and monsters relying on winning via numbers and attrition instead of singular power means that the world in general is a bit less threatening.

    -Less shopping decisions.
    Items matter less, you have less of them, and they are less powerful.
    Thus, it is very easy to decide on what item to get when all you can afford at level 8 is a +1 sword and thats also all that's available. I haven't actually read the DMG, so I don't know what other utility items are still around, but I can assume the list is MUCH smaller then all the rings/rods/wonderous items and such we used to have.

    -Less to figure out and apply properly.
    You only have 4 powers + a few dailies + a couple at-wills even at higher levels. Compare this to 5 1st-level spells, 3 2nd-level spells and 2 3rd-level spells, at a relatively low level. A ToB battle character also has many more options and things going on in comparison to even a higher-level 4e one. That's in addition to special feat options (many possible) or item usage. Obviously, with less options to choose from in general, you have less helmet-fire and its harder to make the wrong choice. Also, what power to use in what situation is often fairly obvious, from what I've heard.


    Ok, a couple other things:

    Quote Originally Posted by crow
    Ok, pick one to be good at, and suck at everything else. Whereas in 3.5, you could play a Ranger and pick up a few levels of Sorcerer or Wizard or whatever and pick up some utility spells which would be useful even if your INT was only 13.
    For one, rangers in 3.5 already dabbled in magic. But yes, you are talking about the moduality of the class system which is a major assest, and was addressed in the OP's article.


    As for what I meant in regard to 3e facilitating my roleplaying is really simple to understand if you look at it from my perspective:

    The entire point of an RPG system is to provide a simulation of a fantasy world and provide a robust system for me to represent and develop my character. Things like optimization are fun extras, but are besides the point.

    Was that clear enough?

    No? Ok, I will elaborate a bit more.


    4E IS AN INFERIOR SYSTEM FOR SIMULATION. The designers themselves have admitted to this, and the evidence within the system itself is so staggering I feel like I'm wasting time by pointing it out.


    Why is simulation important for roleplaying? Honestly, I feel nothing could be more obvious and intuitive, but I will attempt to explain.

    -Everything that works to define my character aids in my roleplaying. Everything that abstracts an aspect of my character takes away from my roleplaying. Yes, this is an absolute statement, and it means things like 3E's HP system detracts from my RPing.

    -When you do something as a character, and you want to know if you succeed, you need to be able to know how the world works. This both enables you to execute better judgement and allows for your DM to run a more consistant and immersive world. This is not just a general statement, it is an absolute statement, and applies to everything from grappling to breaking a weapon to swimming a raging river. Any vagueness or abstraction detracts from this.

    -Everything must flow from logic and all mechanics must be internally consistant. Anything that is illogical, non-sensical or inconsistant with previously establish precedent ruins immersion. Every level of abstraction detracts from immersion, accuracy and consistancy.

    Yes, even 3e breaks these rules, but 4e breaks alot MORE of them and breaks them much further.

    Example: Even 3e's skill system is an abstraction, since Survival encompases many related tasks that you are assumed to be knowledgable in. It also does not take into account differences in environment and so forth. However, this is still better then 4e's Nature Lore that is merely a blanket term for anything related to, well, Nature.
    Last edited by Kizara; 2008-06-16 at 01:52 AM.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Kizara, one question, if you want simulation, why are you playing D&D at all?

    D&D has never been about simulation, and 3.x isn't very good at simulation either. In fact, no class based system will properly do simulation.

    Instead, I'd suggest you look into something like GURPS, which is much better at simulation than any class based system can ever hope to be.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Bleen View Post
    And how does that contribute ANYTHING to the thread aside from attempting to be antagonistic?

    Anywho, my problem with the article..post..thing presented by the OP is that it concedes that there are two wholly-different design goals yet attempts to claim one set of goals as having more merit, whereas I've largely seen 3.X vs. 4ed as a matter of taste.
    To be fair, actually, the point is made: what if you don't like gaming with minis?

    The battle part of 4e is kinda ... limited, then. I grant that some of the powers are pretty cool for taking advantage of this.

    But I don't play with minis.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Gezina View Post
    Kizara, one question, if you want simulation, why are you playing D&D at all?

    D&D has never been about simulation, and 3.x isn't very good at simulation either. In fact, no class based system will properly do simulation.

    Instead, I'd suggest you look into something like GURPS, which is much better at simulation than any class based system can ever hope to be.
    Well, as for why I'm playing 3e, I have only a few things to say about that:

    1) It seemed to do a pretty good job to me. Although it has alot that needs to be fixed. My 46 page, 12pt font, single-spaced Tome of House Rules (that is so far from done it depresses me) attests to that.

    2) I like character archtypes, when done in moderation. I really like 3e's spellcasting, multiclassing, feat and skill systems. I've only made minor tweaks to them. The magic item system and lists are pretty good too, with some bad apples.

    3) I generally like the playstyle, power level and core design of 3e. That said, I point at my Tome again for all the things that need correction. My desire for good simulation does not mean I want to play 'average' characters. Indeed, one of the things that 3e does so well is that it allows you to be better then other people by virtue of more then just being higher-level.

    4) I am hesitant to try new things. Just a personallity trait, and noone I know plays GURPS. Thus, the reason I don't play it is because I've had no exposure to it. Also, I've heard that GURPS, being a generic system by design, has to be worked with alot in order to make it work like a game designed for a certain playstyle.


    That being said, I admit myself that 3e does not really do as good a job of simulation as I would like, just that its a helluva lot closer to it then 4e.
    Last edited by Kizara; 2008-06-16 at 01:48 AM.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    The entire point of an RPG system is to provide a simulation of a fantasy world and provide a robust system for me to represent and develop my character. Things like optimization are fun extras, but are besides the point.
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    Ah, you don't want D&D at all. You'd be happier with Fantasy GURPS, to be honest. I mean, Hit Points? And worse, D&D only simulates a Tolkeenesque Fantasy World well. I mean, that's what its roots are.

    I've seen this sentiment a lot, but truly, 3e is a terrible simulation game, compared to what's in the marketplace. It lacks to robustness of weapon characteristics you see in 2e (and the interactions between different types of armor!), has embarrassingly simplified social encounter rules (Diplomacy allowing you to convert Hostile to Friendly at, what, 3rd level?) and completely leaves out any system to address NPC morale or full-scale warfare.

    Now, to be honest, I'm not looking for a "simulation" and I don't feel the need for Heroes to need to worry about spending "points" for Craft or Profession skills. I agree with the OP here. But if you're really interested in simulation, D&D is not the place to get it. 3e has many gross oversimplifications of its own (made in response to the detailed system of 2e) and the whole game was born out of a tactical wargame (which has never been known for its verisimilitude). If you take simulation seriously, you are doing yourself a disservice by playing D&D - pick up any of the GURPS systems and you'll be far happier.


    EDIT: Just read your post above. Well, then it sounds like you just like using the system you have, which is fine, but it's not because it "simulates" better - it's because you're comfortable with it. Pick up an old 2e PHB and you'll see instantly that it does a better job of simulating a fantasy world; but like GURPS it fell out of favor because the rules were just too darn complicated to have fun with. Most 2e players ignored vast swathes of the system just to keep things running because of this.

    Now, it's fine to keep playing something 'cause you are comfortable with it, but do yourself a favor and don't say you do it because it "simulates" well. Say you do it because you like it, and it's what you know. That's why I never upgraded to 4e Shadowrun, and resisted moving up to 3e D&D.
    Last edited by Oracle_Hunter; 2008-06-16 at 01:46 AM.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    being someone that has played gestalt in over 80% of the games ive been in will not be switching. My melee characters already have the sort of play options cited in the original post just feat up on your secondary class and start with atleast a +2 in int and you can at the least turn a barb into an acrobatic death machine with enough ranks in tumble to pull of crazy stunts.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Oracle:

    I guess I really should check out GURPS fantasy, as apparently I don't know what I'm missing.


    As for you saying
    but do yourself a favor and don't say you do it because it "simulates" well. Say you do it because you like it, and it's what you know.
    Well, I feel both are true. I feel it does a pretty good job of simulation, in the context of what it's trying to simulate (heroic fantasy). The terms heroic and simulation are a bit at-odds with one-another, I'm aware of this. :)
    But, you see, I want to simulate RPing a hero, which requires one's concept of "real" to be redefined a bit.


    Thus, I suppose what I'm saying is "3e seems to do a pretty good job of simulation, and its the demon I know and enjoy".


    Also, as far as 2e goes, the problem there is that its not written very consistantly. Part of a good simulation is that its consistant with itself and clean and easy to understand. 2e fails here. There's no reason rules can't be detailed and complex as well as clean and understandable at the same time. 3e for the most part does a good job here in my opinion.
    Oh, and "set a D% for the check, here's some examples to help you guess" isn't really giving me very useful tools.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by H0L7 View Post
    being someone that has played gestalt in over 80% of the games ive been in will not be switching. My melee characters already have the sort of play options cited in the original post just feat up on your secondary class and start with atleast a +2 in int and you can at the least turn a barb into an acrobatic death machine with enough ranks in tumble to pull of crazy stunts.
    Gestalt is not the best ground for comparing as it basically merges two classes into one. Do this with 4e classes and you will get more versatile classes than base, even though 4e classes aren't exactly best to use gestalt on.

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    Thus, I suppose what I'm saying is "3e seems to do a pretty good job of simulation, and its the demon I know and enjoy".
    And that's fair enough. Gaming is, first and foremost, doing what you enjoy - and if your mountain of House Rules does that for you, then by all means rock on!

    Me, I've always had trouble coming up with house rules that didn't break the game. Why, thinking back to my homebrewed 2e Archery Specialist...
    Last edited by Oracle_Hunter; 2008-06-16 at 02:09 AM.
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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    And that's fair enough. Gaming is, first and foremost, doing what you enjoy - and if your mountain of House Rules does that for you, then by all means rock on!

    Me, I've always had trouble coming up with house rules that didn't break the game. Why, thinking back to my homebrewed 2e Archery Specialist...
    I would be more then happy to share with you my latest copy of my Tome if you are interested. I feel its written with the same tone and consistancy as the core books. It needs to be re-formated a bit now that its gotten so large, but its still well-presented IMO.

    Please PM me if you are interested.


    Oh, and thank you for displaying a shinning example of why GitP is such a great community. Our difference of opinion would more likely result in a flame war then a very pleasant reaching of common ground, that we have attained here, had this been on a different forum. Enjoy 4e with my compliments. :)

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    Default Re: A well written view on 3x vs. 4e

    Kizara, I understand your point, and I agree that 3e is more systemically simulationist than 4e.

    However, I have found that 3e's vast inter-class power imbalance creates situations in which the simulationism of 3e goes right out the window. One simply cannot have a party with disparate power levels without either a) causing some players to contribute far more than others and consequently stealing the spotlight, or b) those same players metagaming their way out of it, by self-nerfing their character's actions to be in line with the power level of the rest of the party, when that is not at all what the character would be doing.

    If everyone in the party is at the same power level in 3e, then yes, I will agree with you, it is inherently better at simulation than 4e. But if there is a significant difference in the power level of party members (and it's quite difficult to avoid that, at least in my experience), that tends to break down, unless everyone roleplays without metagaming, and some party members are left out in the cold in terms of party contribution. But then another question arises: why are the more powerful members traveling with these weak links? Not every party is built where they're all age-old friends or relatives. That in itself is a metagame issue.

    Or do you disagree?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    Oh, and thank you for displaying a shinning example of why GitP is such a great community. Our difference of opinion would more likely result in a flame war then a very pleasant reaching of common ground, that we have attained here, had this been on a different forum. Enjoy 4e with my compliments. :)
    I have found the same. I used to post a lot on the Wizards boards, and the difference in tone between these two forums (especially in recent times, they used to be a lot better) is marked. I actually haven't posted over there in weeks, basically since they destroyed the boards as we all knew them.

    And thank you, I will enjoy 4e
    Last edited by JaxGaret; 2008-06-16 at 02:29 AM.
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