4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

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PriamNevhausten
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4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:12 pm

Anyone tried the whole New Red Box thing? Any impressions on that?

I've been reading some things about people's experiences with 4th edition D&D, and it occurs to me that there are a lot more people out there than I'd suspected who have a reasonably strong dislike for the new system. Having played much of it, I can't say I'm really sure why. So I invite and solicit your feelings on that matter, too!
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby BrainWalker » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:31 pm

DIFFERENT IS SCARY!

I don't really know much about it. I've heard they tried to simplify things, which is great, but in doing so they kind of fucked a bunch of shit up, which... I guess is open to argument.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who told me that they changed how healing works as a cleric. Apparently you don't get healing spells, you get "healing charges" from beating the crap out of monsters, which you can then share with your party, allowing them to use at their leisure. The passage explaining this was apparently accompanied by a disclaimer that "you can't get extra healing charges by carrying around a bag of rats to pummel every so often" or some-such thing. Which struck me as amusing, but also kind of fucked up.
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby ChristianC » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:36 pm

I dunno, I played 4th Edition for a while, and I really liked the graphical design, and such, but the system is really combat-focused and I got kind of put off by the simplification and complete overhaul of the general cosmology.

I haven't played the Red Box though, unless you mean D&D 1st Edition, which I own a copy of (Swedish version)

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:31 pm

Hey Christian I heard the Swedish D&D printings don't have kobolds to avoid offending anyone. Confirm?

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby ChristianC » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:34 pm

I think we had them. But they're dogs in the first edition...

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby BrainWalker » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:27 pm

Perhaps I'm just not cosmopolitan enough to catch the joke, but why exactly would kobolds offend Swedish people?
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Besyanteo » Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:58 pm

Having played a bit of 4th Ed, just a tiny bit:

There's two reasons why it doesn't sit as well with me as 3.5 does. The first is that I was only just really getting into D&D when the new version was announced. So, I had spent some money, spent some time collecting some source material, blah. It's my entry point to the D&D series, and having it suddenly dropped just as I got used to it was sort of irritating. That said, I understand that it's had a good long run for most other people. I just found it late. Oh well, tough luck. The second reason is that I really fell in love with all the different routes I could take in 3.5 as I levelled up. I could move in hundreds of directions that let me do hundreds of different things in many many different ways, so long as the DM didn't take issue with the second class or PrC I chose. In 4th Ed, from what I saw in the source books Priam was lending me at the time, multi-classing doesn't work like that any more. As I recall, you pick a class, and you either chose to eventually become a god/paragon/other thing, or to tint your current class with light shades of another one. I forget what those were called, so sorry if that sounds kind of vague.

As for things I hear about it, there are two big ones. The first I often hear is "It's WoW the RPG", referring to the combat system relying heavily on set roles like an MMO does, and the system's focus on combat to near or whole exclusion of other things. Certainly this can be mitigated by a good play group, making up for the lack of mechanics for social situations by actually being social and intelligent on their own. I'm not sure about any crafting related thing because I haven't had a chance to take a hard look at them. :-/ I'm not even sure the social thing is accurate right at the moment. Of note, you probably won't hear these people mention how much faster combat moves under this system. Moving on, the second thing I tend to hear is "It doesn't feel like it's really D&D with the changes made." I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that's the the former mixed with gripes about the change to the alignment system and cosmology. I can appreciate why this would bother people, but without naming names I'd point out that as far as cosmology was concerned in least in one case, that person felt the same way about the switch from 2nd to 3rd, and responded by simply keeping 2nd Ed's cosmology in their 3rd edition games. That one's not a hard fix. I can feel alignment, though. If they wanted to end players bickering over the 9 alignments, it might have helped to make a clean break from them, rather than keeping the titles "Lawful Good" and "Chaotic Evil". A lot of people aren't going to look at that alignment system and see anything new, but rather they'll see the old system with four choices missing. That they way the two systems function are wholly different from one another doesn't really matter because a person's perception of it is tainted going in.

Also, as I just thought of it, I have to say: The Tiefling have always irked me, largely because I learned to roleplay here. The exact phrasing escapes me right now, but the flavor text and favored class information as I recall them read like a beginner's guide to making a Mysterious Cloaked Figure. It's a small thing, but it's going to come to mind every time I read that race description, just as much as the changes to elves is going to make me want to play one of the pointy eared bastards for the first time.

So, TL;DR: I can't say I hate or love 4th ed. I take issue with it here and there, but I do with 2nd, 3rd and 3.5 as well. If someone made a game for it that I could get in on, I would probably play. As an elf that isn't so other worldly or more-enlightened-than-thou to get along with human party members.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:41 am

My limited understanding of Tieflings is that they used to be fairly randomized demon-tainted folk, through curses or lineage or whatever, and pretty much forced into being outcasts or similar. And then 4e made them into a single, unified, homogenized culture, with their own styles of weaponry and languages or whatever. So they went from being 'oh this guy's a mutant' to 'oh this guy is from the Tiefling side of town'.

Which, to me, makes them less interesting, less unique, and more prone to being a more points-of-light friendly word for half-demon, rather than the unfortunate mutants they were meant to be. Likewise, while on one hand giving them a culture to call their own might give them a sense of place in the world, it also might make it easy for a player to just go "welp, of course I wear all black and have spikes on everything I own, I'm a tiefling!"

Edit: Yeah Bes, the Epic Destines are weird, since most of them are differently flavored ways of 'you basically become a god'. Which, personally, saddens me that 'becoming a god' is the supposed proper endgame for a D&D guy. Retiring as a level 10 warrior king or thief master or wizard of the realm just seems a 'cooler' farewell to your beloved characters, to me, than transcending the mortal plane to go fight dudes in another dimension, beyond the cares and whims that were so core to their gaining levels at all. It's a weird thing. As an aside, I think the only MMO equivalent thing like that was in Anarchy Online, reaching the max level involved your character reaching enlightenment, and a message being sent through the server heralding that event.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Idran1701 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:59 am

Capntastic wrote:My limited understanding of Tieflings is that they used to be fairly randomized demon-tainted folk, through curses or lineage or whatever, and pretty much forced into being outcasts or similar. And then 4e made them into a single, unified, homogenized culture, with their own styles of weaponry and languages or whatever. So they went from being 'oh this guy's a mutant' to 'oh this guy is from the Tiefling side of town'.

Which, to me, makes them less interesting, less unique, and more prone to being a more points-of-light friendly word for half-demon, rather than the unfortunate mutants they were meant to be. Likewise, while on one hand giving them a culture to call their own might give them a sense of place in the world, it also might make it easy for a player to just go "welp, of course I wear all black and have spikes on everything I own, I'm a tiefling!"


They didn't change tieflings, exactly. They just used an existing name for a new race. Like what they did with eladrins or devas, basically.

Edit: Yeah Bes, the Epic Destines are weird, since most of them are differently flavored ways of 'you basically become a god'. Which, personally, saddens me that 'becoming a god' is the supposed proper endgame for a D&D guy. Retiring as a level 10 warrior king or thief master or wizard of the realm just seems a 'cooler' farewell to your beloved characters, to me, than transcending the mortal plane to go fight dudes in another dimension, beyond the cares and whims that were so core to their gaining levels at all. It's a weird thing. As an aside, I think the only MMO equivalent thing like that was in Anarchy Online, reaching the max level involved your character reaching enlightenment, and a message being sent through the server heralding that event.


But that's the thing, you don't choose an epic destiny just arbitrarily. You choose one based on the cares and whims that were behind your gaining levels. You choose one that befits your character's personality and the path he's taken through life. They're all different flavored ways of being super-powerful (not a god exactly, more a being that transcends the bounds of mortality and normal physical existence and is a truly epic figure, like Gilgamesh or King Arthur) because at that point you're super-powerful. I mean, think about it this way: King Arthur entering Avalon to always watch over his kingdom and return someday when it would most need him is the Epic Destiny version of retiring to be a king. These people are beyond just being a ruler of a nation or whatever, the Epic Destiny is what they do after being a king.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:04 am

I can kinda get that. I think my main issue is that I'm, by nature, not really down with the linear ascent to demi-goddery D&D offers.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Idran1701 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:06 am

I can understand that. And you can always just stop your campaigns at mid-level or so and you'd get the exact experience you'd want, I imagine. Nothing says your game has to continue on past there. Heck, you could probably just keep playing and have like...an EXP cap or something, where you don't get any more experience, you just keep having neat adventures.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:13 am

I think the one thing 4e has going for it, mechanics-wise, is the Dark Sun career paths. Basically they're 'mundane pre-destinies' you throw onto your character that give a few extra minor abilities. They're things like 'dune trader' or 'escaped gladiator' that let you fine tune things, or compensate for weaknesses or whatever. It lets you make a fighter, for example, that gets minor healing abilities or whatever, without having to cross-class.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby ChristianC » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:26 am

There are social "encounters" in 4th edition that really irked me for some reason. Well, not just social, environmental, trap encounters, etc. All designed to reward players with a systematic amount of XP depending on how you cleared it.

I think the 4th Edition as a whole wasn't very bad. But the premade I played, as well as the one I got a chance to sample, realized all my presumptions about American classic RPG. Keep of the Shadow Fell contained about two-three pages of material about the ONLY town in the game, the rest was basically 35 monster encounters. Fun times!

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby ChristianC » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:39 am

And while I meant no offense to anyone, the D&D kind of gaming, i.e. the dungeon-crawling, has always stricken a bad chord with me. Again, it's up to the group, but I think the distinction rollplaying versus roleplaying is a very real concept.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:36 pm

Documentation!

In 4th edition D&D, multiclassing works like so:
- Once you're of a certain level and/or stat prerequisite, you can take a Multiclass Feat, which grants you access to the skills and feats of another class. You also take one Feature of that class that would be an Encounter power and can instead only use it as a Daily (or as an Encounter if it were an At-Will power); this Feature is predetermined and you cannot choose which Feature to pick.
- Later levels, you can take Feats to swap out some of your powers from your main class in exchange for powers of the same level or lower from your second class. (Psionic classes have some special conditions for this, but the principle remains similar.)
- Your defenses, HP, armor proficiency, and class features from your first class remain completely intact. In essence, you are still fully a member of that first class, but have a couple little extra bits and bobs from class #2.
- You can't take a Multiclass feat for more than one different class.
- You can Retrain out of Multiclassing. Just drop the Multiclass feats in favor of something else. (I have a character in a currently-running 4E game who is a Warlord, who second-classed into Paladin, changed his mind and retrained to second-class Psion, and now changed his path and retrained the Multiclass feat to become secondarily an Ardent.)

In the Player's Handbook 3, they introduced Hybrid characters, which work like so:
- At character creation, you decide you want a Hybrid character. You choose two classes, and take part of each's HP, defenses, Features, skills, and powers.
- You must always, always, have at least one power of each type (at-will/encounter/daily) from each of your classes (unless you only have one of that type, in which case you have one from the class of your choosing until you gain enough levels to have a second, at which point you must choose one from the other class).
- Because you don't get all the Features or abilities of either of your classes, your Cleric/Warlock (for example) will never be quite as good at Clericking as your party's Cleric, nor as good at Warlocking as your Warlock. On the other hand, you have much greater ease of access to both classes' powers than a Multiclassed character would. You sacrifice viability for versatility.
- You can never switch which classes you Hybridize. (I don't believe you can Multiclass either, but this is my guess rather than remembering having read it.)

And while I'm here...
The New Red Box, what bits I've read:

- You don't pick your stats. It's based on your class (notwithstanding racial modifiers), and you have what you have. Your equipment has only slight choice involved--you generally choose between only two options for any given question (such that your set of possible answers to the "what weapon do you use?" question is entirely comprised of "Longsword" and "Battle Axe," if you are playing a fighter.)
- The mechanics of each class remain similar to 4E in the base way--each turn consists of a Move, Minor, and Standard action--but each class has a unique set of mechanics specific to them. For instance, Fighters no longer have powers, but they get a selection of Stances (a known keyword in 4E) that they can switch between freely with a Minor action.
- The whole Box is very clearly geared towards accessibility--not knowing anything about the game, I can be ready to play in five minutes (given a DM), using the choose-your-own-adventure styled character creation system and vastly simplified character record.

Clearly I mostly just read about the Fighter part, because I was worried that it would go back to the problem of fighters only having one answer to the question, "what do you do this combat round?" I was pleasantly surprised.


I've also seen the D&D Essentials book released the other day, but I have not seen its contents. This weekend promises to be busy, but if I manage to glean an understanding of it, I will report back.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Kai » Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:11 am

I like 4th Edition because it solves two problems that I had with 3.5:

Low-level casters were boring, because you cast acid arrow twice and then get out your crossbow.
High-level fighters were pointless, because you hit it with your sword and hit it with your sword and never have any choices or resource management because you know next round you're just gonna hit it with your sword. Even the ones that deal lots of damage (like rogues) often do so by running around with Use Magic Device pretending that they're wizards (which calls into question whether it's their class that's interesting, or their ability to escape their class and imitate one of the "good" ones).

The idea of having casters have a certain number of "at-will" powers made low-level casters interesting to play again (for me) because I didn't create a wizard to be playing a crossbow sniper. The idea of having powers at all for non-magic users made them more fun for me as well, because it actually means that from round to round, there are tactical choices to make that just weren't available in 3.5.

It was different, yeah, but it didn't feel nearly as repetitive to me. I've created the same characters in multiple editions of D&D by now, and I have to say that 4e gave the characters a good balance of having interesting choices to make, and still being useful at the end of the first encounter.

A note on the "WoW the RPG" point that I've heard a lot (though not as much here, so the "you" here is a general second-person):

I hate MMOs about as much as anybody who's ever touched one. I can't even play the old SNES Final Fantasy games because the grinding gets to be too much for me, so for the people who don't want to play D&D-flavored WoW, understand that I say this as a friend: You were already playing a game whose classes came with expectations, and if you don't realize that by now, then you clearly weren't paying attention.

I actually like the fact that there are explicitly-stated party roles in 4e. I like this because they were there in 3.5, too. They just didn't tell you in the books that they were there because they didn't care if you accidentally created a Monk/Sorcerer combo that accomplished nothing because it actually had nothing to contribute but nobody told you that different classes were better-suited to different things. I always sensed that there were party roles in 3.5, and I think everybody else knows it, too. The difference is that 4e comes out and articulates some of the unspoken expectations that go into what rudimentary power-balancing WotC actually bothered to do in 3.5.

If there are gonna be things that certain classes are good for, it's not pidgeonholing people to come out and say, "You know, you may want to have your fighter tank for the wizard. Just saying. Maybe also have the cleric buff the fighter so that the fighter doesn't die protecting the wizard while the wizard blasts the enemies before they gun down the rogue." You knew you had to do this stuff before, if you knew anything. They're just saying it for the benefit of the people who don't want to (or aren't quick enough with the crunch to) learn it by trial and error.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Archmage » Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:30 am

My biggest mixed objection to 4e at this point is the fact that so much errata has come out since the release that my printed books are in many cases extremely inaccurate relative to the "official" versions of tables, powers, et cetera. Yes, you can use the character builder and the other online tools (if you want to pay for a DDI subscription), but why should a monthly fee be required to make proper use of books I already paid for? I realize you can play without errata, but the whole thing is kind of a mess, especially if some members of your group use the character builder and others don't.

Overall, I don't think 4e is a terrible system, but I enjoy GMing it more than I enjoy playing it. It requires a different approach to the game than some of the previous editions, which isn't a huge problem, but I think some of the design goals are a bit wonky and I'm not entirely happy with the end result. (3.5e is full of screwed up crap, too, but that's neither here nor there--both systems require a good bit of tweaking to play a functional game, depending on your definition of "functional.")

I don't really intend to purchase any of the Essentials products on account of the fact that I'm not really playing or running D&D right now (I've mostly switched over to playing Shadowrun), but either way, it doesn't look like the new stuff is going to fix any of the problems I had with 4e in the first place. I am watching to see if and how the new character classes and options will integrate with existing material. Feel free to share information on that subject if you actually pick up the book, Priam.
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:43 am

The main problem I have with refining the ethos of a class into the striker/leader/defender/controller roles is that those roles only apply to combat. It'd be cool if there were other archetype lists for the social and exploration axis of things.

So your wizard would be an arcane controller/researcher and your rogue would be a martial striker/gossiper, or something. It'd be rad.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby ChristianC » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:12 am

Indeed, I agree with Kai, the system, if played according to pre-mades and what-nots, definitely favor a party-composition that complement each other well. In that regard, D&D is the kind of game I have a difficult time with. Mainly because I feel that if you're still going to play a game with lots of intense, realistic storytelling and dangers (note HUGE letters on realistic) there are plenty of systems out there that handle things like damage, skill-checks and what nots much better.

Still, if you get together with your friends to have some fun RPing while killing monsters and stuff, D&D is not a bad game. It just doesn't appeal to my view of a good system.

I'm probably biased, but I find the rather simple and intuitive Storyteller system used in White Wolf's WoD games much more capable, especially since the 1-5 dot system gives you a really, really nice overview of what things can do.

Anyway, I also like the idea of social/puzzle roles as well, it sounds neat.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:24 am

White Wolf systems are good on paper, but the instant they even think about becoming practical the whole thing disintegrates. Exalted, the very most charitable of their systems, has a 50% failure rate on every die you roll. Yes, you're rolling 20 dice on some of your better stuff, but it's highly subject to the idea of diminishing returns. What good is an expensive eighth or ninth die in something if you're still only going to get an average of three to five successes? Sure, the skill description SAYS that at 5 dots in Drive you can move your Ferrari like it was your left hand, but in practical application you mostly just end up being able to not flip it when driving down a rainy street....usually.

Social roles in D&D classes sound interesting, too, but a problem immediately crops up: As soon as you define what class can do what in a social situation, you define what a class can't do in a social situation...which as far as I am concerned, is anathema to actual roleplaying. Ironically, social roles work best with people who don't want to roleplay, because it lets the system do it for them. I, on the other hand, can do that part myself; let me spend my character points, or feats, or whathaveyou, on combat stuff because I can't actor my way out of being stabbed through the kidney once the sword is in.
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby ChristianC » Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:32 am

Well, I did talk about WoD, as I personally don't have much love for the Exalted, but what I meant with the dot-system is that it's a simple way of playing it freestyle. Basically, you can wing just about any roll, as a GM, by checking out how many dots anyone's got in it. Then there's the addition of willpower points, to get a free success (at least, in the oWoD you got that), and generally I think it's a more subtle system than D&D...

Again though, I might be preaching something I'm not doing, as you could just as well do it that way on D&D and just ignore the rules for the most part... I just think Storyteller, the WoD system, is better for that.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:24 am

Exalted's system is almost exactly the same as the system used in the World of Darkness settings. And to stray ever so slightly further from the topic, you would probably very much like the system in Legend of the Five Rings. It's like the WoD system without most of the bad. (And I'm still not entirely sure what you're saying the ST system has that D&D4 doesn't, to any degree of specificity.)
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"Anything that might be of interest to Slitscan. Which is to say, anything that might be of interest to Slitscan's audience. Which is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections."
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Archmage » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:03 pm

Capntastic wrote:So your wizard would be an arcane controller/researcher and your rogue would be a martial striker/gossiper, or something. It'd be rad.

I was actually working on a system a while ago that integrated something like that until I essentially abandoned the project (too much work for ultimately too little return), but I really think it should be emphasized that this kind of thing only works if you assign everyone a "social role" in addition to a "combat role," because you want everyone to be able to participate in everything. You don't want to give half the table a reason to whip out their handheld game systems or surf the internet because they're playing characters that are specialized for combat or non-combat and are therefore unable to contribute to whatever it is that's going on at the time.

Unapologetically only sort-of on topic:

ChristianC wrote:Well, I did talk about WoD, as I personally don't have much love for the Exalted, but what I meant with the dot-system is that it's a simple way of playing it freestyle.

At this point in my gamer career, I'm not really interested in paying real money for a set of rulebooks when I'm going to ignore 90% of their crunch content and use the incredibly innovative "rank all your skills on a 1 to 5 scale and the GM will arbitrarily decide how good you are at stuff" system. I've been playing two WW games lately (oWoD Vampire and Scion) and I feel pretty qualified to say that they are mechanically absolutely terrible games. If I want to sit around a table with my friends and pretend to be immortal vampires, that's all well and good, but White Wolf's games don't actually give me the tools I need to do that any better than reading a bunch of novels and taking 15 minutes to compile my favorite ideas from those novels into a rough setting would.

The fact is that White Wolf's Storyteller system and its minor evolutions (Exalted, Scion) are extremely rules-heavy systems and that 95% of those rules are poorly-written and don't work at all. So while you can certainly have fun playing Vampire/Werewolf/Mage/Exalted/Scion/whatever, I'm of the opinion that you're really doing it in spite of the fact that the base games are bad--they contain some good ideas, but if you get the best roleplaying results from ignoring the vast majority of the printed book's content I'd argue that the books aren't really doing you much good.
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:27 pm

PriamNevhausten wrote:but a problem immediately crops up: As soon as you define what class can do what in a social situation, you define what a class can't do in a social situation...


Absolutely true, but it's basically what the roles do for combat situations, though, which D&D4e seems to expect the game to focus on more. The point I'm trying to make is that defining a character's class- a culmination of their skills, lifestyle, and profession- via the manner in which they kill goblins, is inherently flawed. If you're going to hold the player's hand and give them choices like "if you want to hit people and absorb massive damage, be this class. If you want to sneak from the shadows, be this class!", then I feel, having similar ones such as "if you want to research ancient writings, be a wizard, if you want to tap the local tavern for rumors, be a rogue", would be nothing but beneficial. And putting the value of non-combat operations right up there would do nothing but breed a better generation of roleplayers.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Archmage » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:38 pm

Capntastic wrote:having similar ones such as "if you want to research ancient writings, be a wizard, if you want to tap the local tavern for rumors, be a rogue", would be nothing but beneficial.

Or it would lead people to believe that rogues couldn't research ancient writings and wizards couldn't ever be stealthy. Your "role" really ought to straitjacket you into a specific archetype as little as possible.

And character classes aren't a "culmination of a character's lifestyle, skills, and profession," they're packages of abilities--the idea of classes-as-professions limits roleplaying.
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:54 pm

I'm not too up on 4e (or any e) mechanically, but aren't both combat and non-combat abilities chosen by your class? Can you realistically make a fighter who can decipher ancient texts?

Regardless, my theoretical social-role wouldn't change anything mechanically, and is simply extending the 'this is what the class does' aspect of roles, which it already does for combat stuff, to noncombat stuff. It's simply putting a name to some vague ideas about what the class is good at outside of combat. It also puts the player in a better situation to decide "man, we might really need a dude who is good at languages, I should go bard".

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:57 pm

Yes. Your fighter can actually become incredibly good at Arcana skills, by means of a mere two feats. Skill Training (Arcana) or a Multiclass feat to a class that has Arcana as an available skill, and to top it off you can take a Skill Power feat to be able to do, without rolling in some cases, some really sweet things with it that not even Wizards or Sorcerers could do otherwise.

{edit}
What I'm getting at is that most people who role-play know how to talk, and can reasonably figure out some basic investigative measures, and have some sense of politeness and propriety. We don't need rules and rolls for that. They're there if you suck at the skill set that Streetwise represents, for instance, but if you know that stuff already then the rules will do you much less good than your actual player skills. It's written as a just-in-case for the players who find themselves in the King's court in the middle of the kick-down-the-door game they were used to.

Combat, on the other hand, is not something that a player is commonly good at, and in fact even if they ARE good at it, that knowledge does not transfer to their character in any sort of practical way 95% of the time. Combat does need rules and rolls.

I can see social character classes working, but for them to work for people who have ever role-played before, the absolutely, positively must be divorced from combat classes, or else you do get into pigeonholing. Why in the world should my fighter be shit at streetwise, or my rogue naturally have knowledge of forgery, or my cleric have etiquette? I ought to be able to choose what social skill set my character has, rather than having it be constrained by my choice to have Cure Light Wounds at my fingertips.

Putting this together with my previous point, social character classes become too crunchy for inexperienced role-players, and pointless for experienced role-players--and unnecessary in a game where skill sets are prepackaged and defined already, like D&D4.
"You haven't told me what I'm looking for."
"Anything that might be of interest to Slitscan. Which is to say, anything that might be of interest to Slitscan's audience. Which is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections."
--Colin Laney and Kathy Torrance, William Gibson's Idoru

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Capntastic » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:05 pm

That's pretty cool, then.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Archmage » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:28 pm

PriamNevhausten wrote:What I'm getting at is that most people who role-play know how to talk, and can reasonably figure out some basic investigative measures, and have some sense of politeness and propriety. We don't need rules and rolls for that.

Man, I can say with absolute certainty that there are lots of people I have RPed with who don't fit this at all--and I have run into situations myself where I was really glad my character was supposed to be more articulate than I was, because I simply couldn't think of anything suitable to say even though I knew my character ought to be able to do so.

"Social combat" and skill systems in TTRPGs could seriously be its own thread, though, because there's a hell of a lot to discuss there if you're so inclined.
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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Ganonfro » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:54 pm

Priam: I believe you can still multiclass if you're a hybrid. What the real question is, is if you can multiclass EVERYthing with a hybrid bard. :D

So, back to the main topic for a second. Essentials looks cool, sounds simple play wise and has the errata'd rules of 4e built in. Since the monsters and dm side are the same as 4e (minus monsters getting slightly easier to hit and doing a little more damage), I think it's funny that people are claiming this as the new 4.5e. Fighters play more like fighters from previous editions, wizards have their insta-hit magic missile again, and that's cool. What's interesting is that they're also laying out classes in a level by level breakdown of what you get, which makes it look very much like 3.x character breakdown, and it is claimed they'll be doing this for all future books, when it comes to classes. Other than that, I don't know much about the red box/essentials. I bought it for a friend, so I didn't get to look at it too much. Hopefully essentials doesn't create a schism between core 4e and essentials, as if it were a new edition, as that'd suck.

Side topic: I actually have demanded my players think up a trade for their character too, to make them think of things to do OUTSIDE of combat. I think it's healthy to encourage them being tradesmen as well as adventurers, but I think it'd bog things down to give people POWERS based on said trade. The Dark Sun Dunetrader and Athasian Minstrel are great ideas, but I wish they weren't completely defined by their attack powers and more defined by their societal role in the culture. Seriously, the Minstrel is pretty much "I POISON YOU, LAWL", instead of being an informant/musician/political sabateur.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Kelne » Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:01 am

What with having three outdated editions of Warhammer 40K on my bookshelves, I'm inherently suspicious of new editions. It comes of seeing Games Workshop pump out a new edition every four years like clockwork. Granted, WotC themselves have only produced two of D&D's four editions, so such suspicions may well be uncharitable, but they're trying to sell me an awful lot more books than GW were with this new edition too.

I never have gotten around to reading the rules all the way through, so I can't really comment based on any kind of practical experience. By all accounts, it's quicker to run and infinitely more balanced than 3.5, but it does strike me as extremely tightly restricted. Each character is fundamentally a variant or combination of four combat roles, with the character classes being distinguished mostly through flavour text. Based on Priam's comment on multi-classing, there may be a fair bit more flexibility than I've been assuming.

The earlier game does have its own issues, and it's difficult to argue with the assertion that the same party roles exist as in 4e, but go unstated. I just don't necessarily agree with the fixes. I'd rather see a common pool of attack options rather than umpteen-thousand at-will/encounter/daily powers individually listed for each class. I'd rather see some of those party roles questioned instead of set in stone. Does every party need a healer? What happens when the cleric goes on vacation? Or the rogue is turned into a shivering, claustrophobic wreck by one too many elaborate death-traps? Surely not every NPC party cleaves to the approved breakdown, and why should the players?

I suspect my attitudes are informed by my early days here, when players and characters would vary between one session and another, rather than remaining fixed as they would in a tabletop game, and all sorts of misfits might be thrown together. Using a system other than D&D probably helped there, in that if you did choose to be a healer or fighter, you wouldn't necessarily be restricted in your role, throwing in whatever supplemental abilities might be needed to round out the character.

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Re: 4th edition D&D, and the Red Box

Unread postby Ganonfro » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:49 pm

I'll tell you what happens when the cleric goes on vacation, the party continues on! Seriously, healing in 4e isn't a problem, as you can heal yourself, during a short rest and during an extended rest. I dm'd a game where the party didn't have a healer class. We're still going strong after 2 years, I stepped down as DM so I could play. Paragon play has started as of yesterday, and I'm couldn't be happier.

Healing Surges are the new way to heal yourself, only to the breaking point of your class/race lets you. You have x+con mod number per day, each one heals you 1/4th your max hp. Some powers let you use them willy nilly, but without any additional healer/potions, each player can only use theirs once per encounter. To me, it's pretty well thought out, in that people aren't USELESS without a healer. Out of the three iterations of this game I've played, I think this one is the most forgiving in that you can have any party, consisting of any combination of characters. You could totally roll 4 Rogues and a Fighter, and the game would likely go swimmingly.

Edit: I forgot why I came back to talk! I bought the Rules Compendium (Really awesome rewriting of the rules with errata, now with FLAVOR!) and Heroes of the Fallen Lands (Truncated Players handbook). After taking a week or three before reading through them, I have to say that I absolutely love some of the changes they made to the character classes. Fighters feel MUCH more like fighters from 3.x and back, with fewer choices for powers, no dailies (Not really my favorite, but it harkens to olden times), Rogues are amazingly different, but they kinda sound like "Hey! Did I tell you I backstab now AND sneak attack? At lvl 7 I can do an extra 5d6 damage on ANY attack! By lvl 27 I can do something like 12d6! EXTRA!" Clerics and Wizards are similar in their changes to harken to previous editions, with Wizards having TONS more out of combat specific spells, and can STILL use rituals. Clerics are clerics. I didn't notice that much in it's changes, but I glazed over it. For the races, they have alternate ability score increases. Like Dwarves have +2 Con, +2 Wis OR +2 Str. Each race has a new OR added to them, making them fit more into certain classic classes. Humans have a racial ability, at the cost of the third at will, since the at wills are a bit different. Now, once per encounter, you get a +4 to a saving throw or attack. Immediate Reaction. Kinda cool, as you can go from miss to hit, or dying to alive with one ability. Anyways. I have to say I'm kinda impressed by Essentials. Especially since I can play Essentials with my regular 4e PHBs.


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