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#1 popper

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 09:22 PM

I remember when the 4th era was announce how there were so many different views out there against the very idea of a new edition. There still are in various quarters though admittedly they have quieted considerably considered to the prerelease. Among the various criticisms that I remember was one that attached a Magic the Gathering influence on the product. This influence was rather kitschy-esque in that there would be a collectable requirement to play the game mainly centered around the mini line if I remember correctly.

Anyway: I believe that they were correct in the assertion that there was a Magic the Gathering influence on the product; but wrong on the kitschy-esque connection. In Magic the Gathering there are various deck builds that provide "unbeatable" combinations if played in the proper sequence. Each new iteration of the game provides new combinations while slowly phasing out the oldest. That's a very simplistic view on an extremely esoteric subject but it's important for the corollary. In 4th era product we are beginning to see iterations of the line that follow that same theme - to a certain point. I don't believe that we'll be seeing the phasing out of PHB1 material; however, I do believe that the chain of products linking with their "unbeatable" combinations is designed around the same concept as the progressive deck build system present in Magic the Gathering. To put it simply: we will eventually see the denigration for one book built characters just as you see people shaking their heads at that poor fool who built his deck only using Guildpact.

"Yeah, you can do it; but why?"

As for the kitschy: you can play the game with tokens, stones, paper cutouts and leftover debris kids. You really don't need to throw money into that figurine sinkhole. I promise you, you don't.
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#2 Nicholas

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 10:07 PM

There's power creep in game with expansions or additions. Either by unpredicted combinations or simply overlooked, overpowered options things gradually become more potent.

My group deals with it the same way we do in Magic. We acknowledge that massive disparities in power are not fun. In Magic or D&D the players try to keep a roughly equal ability level, which really opens us up to trying new and uncertain strategies. There is no fear of being too far behind.

As a Dungeon Master I try to balance encounters against the true power of the group rather than just the level. If my players want to spend feats and skills on character flavor then they will fight enemies just hard enough to challenge them. If they mechanically optimize they will still fight enemies just hard enough to challenge them.
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#3 Telemergion

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 10:40 PM

See PHB1 Battle Cleric vs PHB3 Runepriest
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#4 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 10:54 AM

I agree with power creep in Nocholas's description. This is common in almost any type of game with 'expansions'

As far as Magic goes, the design team know certain combination are powerful, but not unstoppable. True 'instant win' decks aren't common, or require quite a bit of luck to pull off. Certain themes of decks to become more powerful within a given season, and everyone collects cards to make that uber 'net deck, but I think that is a different issue.

Sometimes balance even within a 'season' can be an issue. 3rd edition D&D, with all it's talk of balance, still has a very powerful cleric compared to other classes, and (insert comments about RIFTS here).

As an example, Pathfinder took that into consideration when making the base classes. They knew they had to make a standard fighter at least close to as cool as that multiclass fighter/barbarian/prestige class of doom that became available with splat book X.

My concern about 4e is not miniatures or anything else. It's the fact that the different books are all considered 'core.' Now that the monk is out, and I might want to play, I can't just buy PHB3. It doesn't have all the rules. I need PHB1, and maybe PHB2 for some of the feats and powers I'd be interested in. And unlike MTG, PHB1 won't be phased out or replaced with PHB1X or what have you.

Okay, /rant
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#5 Telemergion

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 03:42 PM

Actually, unless you're a GM, you need not by any of the 4th edition books. If you're willing to invest $10 and have some means of paying things online, you can just get the DDI subscription long enough to download the full character builder, much of the compendium, and whatever else strikes your fancy. I don't even use my books for character gen any more. The $10 is for one month. You could subscribe for a longer term, or just renew every 6 months or year, after the big books drop.

As much as I hate that Wizards is cranking out splat books and new and crazy new content like crazynuts- and believe me, I really do hate it - I actually enjoy the system and with that builder it's so much more tolerable.

...kind of a sidetrack there. Go on with the powercreep discussion.
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#6 PeterFdH

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 08:23 AM

Not entirely convinced about the issue of power creep. I admit that you'll get some from the fact that more options gives you more scope to find killer combinations but they are no less effective than some of the things core classes from PHB 1 can do (with the possible exception of Fighters).

The power creep in 4e is minimal compared to what we had in 3e where I and other GM's regularly had to ban things to preserve game balance or regretted not doing so in the first place (psionics and Erudites in my case). Balance is not really an issue for DM's in 4e as Wizards have actually spent time to consider the implications of new abilities/ powers. That leaves DM's free to focus on the game.

Of course that doesn't stop Wizards from churning out endless supplements but you kinda knew that was always gonna happen - well for as long as people buy them - and besides as mentioned above you can just subscribe to the character generator instead anyway.
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#7 Snappyapple

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 09:14 AM

Psionics and Erudites as opposed to... wizards? I suppose it'll be much harder to ban wizards, but psionics had less broken gameplay than wizards potentially could. This would be mainly on the count of the volumes of spells and alternate abilities pumped out in the dozens of accessories.

Edit: Okay, I would stand corrected if you happened to be referring to the early Dragon magazine version of the Erudite, which is way overpowered compared to the finalized version in Complete Psionic.

I will say that, despite 4th edition publications being more mechanics-heavy than previous editions of D&D, its more specific wording of rules without the reliance of adjudication based on descriptive text has minimized the amount and extremity of loopholes within the rules caused by interaction between new options. Although to save my behind from later replies, I think the way this has come through has its drawbacks as well.
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#8 Cuchulain

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:50 PM

Hmm. Whereas I could nut out the correlation to MTG - to which I was a devoted fan, until realising just how much of a money-grab it was - I think the essential point to consider is the cost/fun equation. There are some obvious ways in which the design of the game was influenced by profit seeking rather than the quality of the end product, and it shows. There are so many flavourful, interesting RPGs out there, we really don't have to be addicted to the tag line "D&D." Some people might say "It was the first! We should play it for that reason alone." Well, no, the current version is nothing like the first, it's a completely different game, it just bears the same title. And it is obviously written with the purpose to screw gamers out of their money. Not that there's anything wrong with games companies making money - but do so with an honest product that has been crafted with love and excitement, not with one eye on the money box at all times. This awareness creeps into the game and poisons it for me. Same reason I gave up MTG: I looked behind the facade and saw the leering face and grasping hands, slavering after my pocketbook.

(/rant.)

(just noticed the horrendously constructed metaphor - hands don't slaver! Oh, wait, we're talking D&D, with such wonderful monsters as the animated ceiling - As you were.)
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#9 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:15 AM

I could start my own thread on this, but it seems appropriate to put it here.

I talked to another gamer freind recently about 4e, because he bought the PHB when it first came out. I also talked with someone on DDO out of the blue who asked about 4e.

He said that 4e isn't D&D. It has the name, but some of the conventions that made D&D what it is were gone. Magic Missile was quoted as an example. In every iteration except the current one, magic missile always did poor damage, but always hit.

On DDO, the question was "What about 4e? Is it worth it?" I said, well, I hadn't tried it, but from I listened to, I didn't care for it. And then I said that monks were recently released in PHB III.

"It took three handbooks to finally get around to a core class?" was her response. Regardless if you call monk 'core' or not, it does seem that it did take a long time to get around to it.

Just wanted to share those observations from outside of our community here.
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#10 popper

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 09:27 PM

. . . I talked to another gamer freind recently about 4e, because he bought the PHB when it first came out. I also talked with someone on DDO out of the blue who asked about 4e . . .


Sorry if this is a bit slow here, but what is DDO? I'm unfamiliar with the acronym.

. . . He said that 4e isn't D&D. It has the name, but some of the conventions that made D&D what it is were gone. Magic Missile was quoted as an example. In every iteration except the current one, magic missile always did poor damage, but always hit . . .


Well, to be honest magic missile could only hit what you could see; so enemies attacking from behind couldn't be hit, nor could they if they were behind cover, or invisible, or in a crowd where you couldn't discern who you wanted to attack . . .

Anyway: it's struck me as odd how many people are claiming that the new edition of dungeons and dragons isn't dungeons and dragons. The arguments tend to vary from the extremes of you can't role play in the new edition to it doesn't have the same game mechanics as version x which I identify as the legitimate version of the game. I'm not getting into the initial argument, but the later argument should really be reclassified as "I don't like change, and I'm not gonna." Because in all honesty that's all it comes down to. When 3rd era came about it wasn't dungeons and dragons because it didn't have THACO. Then we got used to the 3rd era of products and that argument disappeared to be replaced by 3rd era is D&D for dummies (honestly, the game mechanics are far more difficult to work with in the 3rd era than in any of the previous iterations). Now we're just seeing the same argument only on different grounds but all it comes down to I don't like change.
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#11 Pheonix

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 10:01 PM

. . . I talked to another gamer freind recently about 4e, because he bought the PHB when it first came out. I also talked with someone on DDO out of the blue who asked about 4e . . .


Sorry if this is a bit slow here, but what is DDO? I'm unfamiliar with the acronym.


D&D Online. An MMO based on d&D Third ed I believe. It recently went free to play, and some of my friends rave about it.
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#12 gdewalt

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 10:41 PM

Just from my own experience:

My gaming group took on 4e a few months ago. It was made up of a veteran of many editions of D&D, a devoted 3.5er, a total newbie, and me, who played Red Box D&D in the 80's, some Palladium stuff in the 90's and nothing until last year.

We made it through Keep on the Shadowfell and part of Thunderspire Mountain before things fell apart. I'm not saying it's 4e necessarily, but the WOTC modules were grueling (and I think it showed in the Texans' game as well).

Every combat seemed to take hours, and there didn't seem like a whole lot of room to roleplay in the published module. The "powers" system seemed interesting at first, but after blowing all the good skills in combat, saying "I cleave at the kobold" was for some reason even less satisfying than the old "I hit it with my axe." The skill challenge mechanic especially seemed strange. It turned something that could have been good for roleplaying ("Convince this ghost to let you pass") to (Roll persuasion or history 6 times).

I'm not saying 4e is bad or prevents roleplaying, but the published modules really didn't do it for us.
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#13 Mordion

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:03 PM

but all it comes down to I don't like change.


I think that's an issue, but I really don't think it's the issue. I like change a lot, in the last couple of weeks I've played or done character/campaign creation work for 1st edition AD&D, D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu and Dark Heresy. I like switching systems, and I like learning new rule sets.

Saying "4th edition D&D isn't D&D" is sort of a bizarre statement, of course, but I sympathize with the feelings of people who say it. The almost total elimination of the Vancian magic system, the changing of a lot of iconic D&D spells into long term rituals, and giving all classes the same sorts of rechargeable powers has given 4e a very different feel than any other edition.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with 4e, I'm not even saying I dislike it, I'm just saying that I think the editions prior to 4e all feel like different versions of the same game, and 4e feels like...something else.
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#14 Cuchulain

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:56 PM

...all it comes down to I don't like change.


Au contrair, my friend. I embrace change. So when I didn't like the newest version, I changed to CoC. Much better system.

(edited to be less snarky...)

I was very excited by 4E. I bought the boxed set, had it shipped over specially from the US because I couldn't wait for the Australian stockists to get up to speed.

And having played it for 6 months, I can quite honestly say that it is one of the dullest, most annoying systems I have ever had the displeasure to play, and it has obviously been crafted to cost the gamer more for a given value of game than any other RP system I know. With a wealth of RPGs out there, we don't have to settle for such rubbish simply because its name evokes treasured memories. I agree - fear of change is a bad thing. So change to a better system.

Let me construct an illustration. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." So if you'd taken D&D 3.5 and called it "Snotblowers Inc.", it would still have been a fantastic system, fun to play despite the stupid name.

Now consider this. A rose seller finds that he can buy tulips much, much cheaper than roses. But they don't sell as well. So he buys in a whole swathe of tulips, and puts up a sign saying "Roses for sale!", selling the "tulips" at the "rose" price. Are they roses? Well, yes... If you call something a name, then it is what you call it. But do they smell as sweet?
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#15 Telemergion

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 03:19 AM

Sorry if this is a bit slow here, but what is DDO? I'm unfamiliar with the acronym.

As mentioned above, it's the Online MMO. It's based (mostly sorta) off the 3.5 rules and set in Eberron. I find it's a lot closer to what I want from that kind of game, as opposed to WoW, but it's still distinctly an MMO. And, while it is free to play, there are some pretty harsh limitations until you start shilling out at least a little money. I like it, I play it, I recommend checking it out.

"It took three handbooks to finally get around to a core class?" was her response. Regardless if you call monk 'core' or not, it does seem that it did take a long time to get around to it.


As I see it, there were three likely reasons - and most likely it's a combination of them all - for taking so long to release the monk. The first is that Wizards wanted to find a way to make the Monk stand out from other agile melee Strikers so it may have been a struggle to figure out the mechanics. The second is that given the Power Source fluff every clas has they simply weren't satisfied with putting a monk in the existing ones and had to wait for the appropriate book to drop when they could release the whole Power Set (and we can argue over whether Monks should be Psionic or not). The third and most likely - in my opinion - is they counted on people like your friend who think Monks are a core class (which they actually aren't even in DDO unless you subscribe or buy them) and were hoping that by keeping them in the back for a while they'd sell at least one more book.

I'm not saying 4e is bad or prevents roleplaying, but the published modules really didn't do it for us.

The published adventures are shite. I think H3 of the series is the one I really liked the concept of, and will be stealing, but I'd never run one of those monstrosities as written. The ultimate culmination of the adventure chain is also very stupid and pointless with no RP potential. From the brief glance it seemed like a loose ripoff of Chrono Trigger with less RP potential than a JRPG.

edited to be less snarky...

That was less snarky? Now I'm curious what the first one was. :P

It's totally a money grab, I agree - and I actually like the system though I'll admit it has some flaws and issues. Your analogy isn't quite accurate, though, so I'm gonna help fix it!

The rose seller is the latest in a family run game. Grand Dad sold plain roses for a while that he grew in his back yard, then decided he needed white roses too and eventually pink ones so he got the seeds from some suppliers and continued growing them in his garden. Then he retired and his son took over. His son thought plain roses were kind of boring, and also thought that maybe they should take the thorns off before selling them. He started making complicated rose bouquets and charging huge fees, but because the products were pretty he made a killing. The roses still came from the back yard, but they had to buy the property next door and expand it, hiring groundskeepers and floral experts to meet the high demand. Finally, Junior takes over the business. He knows Dad made lots of cash with his bouquets, but rose sales have been on the decline. So he cuts back on rose production and starts shipping in tulips. Into each bouquet of tulips and other stuff he puts a single rose and, when questioned why it doesn't smell exactly like a rose bouquet he shrugs his shoulders and shouts "What, you can't smell the rose? It's right there! But it's been enhanced by all this other stuff. You don't want the other stuff, fine, but I'm the only guy who sells my Grand Dad's roses and this is the only way you can get them!"

Of course, crazy Uncle Steve opened up a tiny shop on the other side of town and is selling rose-hybrids cultivated from Grand Dad's garden, but he mostly gets ignored by everybody because they're purple. (ie: Pathfinder).

There. I think that's way more clear now.

But, in answer to your question. No, it doesn't smell like roses. It smells like tulips, and while many people like tulips and if you're just looking for pretty flowers they'll do in a pinch, but they're not roses.
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#16 Cuchulain

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 05:15 AM

:lol:

Excellent.
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#17 popper

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 08:06 AM

. . . Every combat seemed to take hours . . .


Yeah, I've notice that about 4th era. Though there are some great house rules out there that mollify that problem to a great extent. Some of my favorites are: when the main guy falls so too do all minions; use of hit and run tactics; player actions should be ready as soon as their turn comes up - so too the referee; and average damage for everything but critical successes which do maximum. There are loads of house rules out there that are working to speed up combat and make the game better. It's a lot like the original edition where nearly everyone seems to have had their own version of the game going.

One of the better things about the game, I think, is that people appear to feel more at ease with messing with it again. Maybe it's just my perception of the situation?

. . . The skill challenge mechanic especially seemed strange. It turned something that could have been good for roleplaying ("Convince this ghost to let you pass") to (Roll persuasion or history 6 times) . . .


Back when the Sons of Kryos were still producing their podcasts they had an interview with one of the indie developers who was talking about his favorite aspects of the new edition and his own house rules and the dynamics that they added to the game. He eschewed rolls where you should role play and only used them in situations where they would add to the game. The example I remember, and I apologize if I butcher this, was that the group was investigating the activities of a thieves ring in town. The initial player made his role; then as each individual who aided him in this made their roles he would narrate certain activities that might happen such as the discovery of some key piece of evidence. When failures would occur the players would nearly get caught by the thieves guild or have some other close call which then would allow the player more opportunities to role play his way out. He used this system to really build the narrative tension of the game and it was really cool in how it all worked.

. . . I'm not saying 4e is bad or prevents roleplaying, but the published modules really didn't do it for us.


Yeah, I've yet to hear anyone who really liked them and thought they were the shit. That's really odd when you consider that they were supposed to help with the launch of the system.
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#18 popper

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 08:26 AM

. . . Saying "4th edition D&D isn't D&D" is sort of a bizarre statement, of course, but I sympathize with the feelings of people who say it. The almost total elimination of the Vancian magic system, the changing of a lot of iconic D&D spells into long term rituals, and giving all classes the same sorts of rechargeable powers has given 4e a very different feel than any other edition.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with 4e, I'm not even saying I dislike it, I'm just saying that I think the editions prior to 4e all feel like different versions of the same game, and 4e feels like...something else.


You know, I can see where you're coming from; though it's always seemed to me that the 3rd era was something else from the previous three editions of the game. Original, Advanced, and Second always seemed like they were moving down the same line of thought with an increasingly annoying array of rules that threatened to overwhelm you if you let them. Third era was something else: more structured in some way; easier to break without the flexibility of Original and Advanced. Still the same game, but different nonetheless.

But yeah, I think that fourth is definitely something else too, though still the same game in the end.
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#19 popper

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 08:42 AM

. . . I changed to CoC. Much better system . . .


I don't like it but I can see it's appeal.

I have a thing against d10s. You know, some people don't like whiskey sort of thing.

. . . I can quite honestly say that it is one of the dullest, most annoying systems I have ever had the displeasure to play, and it has obviously been crafted to cost the gamer more for a given value of game than any other RP system I know . . .


When I first bought the Player's Handbook I felt pretty much the same way. Though listening to the 4th era podcast on here slightly changed my mind; it wasn't until I started listening to the Key Our Cars podcast that I really starting rethinking my position. They were having just as much fun as I had ever had with any 3rd era game and playing in the new system. Their house rulings were inventive - and actually made the game more enjoyable.

Now I haven't run a 4th era game yet, but I do plan to soon. Once I have I'll have a better understanding of my feelings on the game then I do now. Until then I plan on standing neutral on the product, while arguing against patently false statements about the game.


. . . I agree - fear of change is a bad thing. So change to a better system . . .


Man that was a genuinely good turn there. I bet if we were having this conversation in person, rather than on the internet, that it would be nearly impossible for me to walk away from this discussion as you'd be way too much fun to talk to. And I am not kidding or being skunky in any way here.

That was neat.
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#20 popper

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 08:47 AM

. . . It's totally a money grab, I agree - and I actually like the system though I'll admit it has some flaws and issues. Your analogy isn't quite accurate, though, so I'm gonna help fix it . . .


Your analogy was better but I don't like roses or tulips. Could our next analogy clarifying involve liquor or chocolate?

I like those.
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