D&D 4th Edition Impressions

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Justice Augustus
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D&D 4th Edition Impressions

Unread postby Justice Augustus » Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:17 am

One of the playtesters for D&D 4th edition has put up his impressions of how the new version plays. It's almost entirely positive material, with the only negatives being the few missing classes/races/monsters from the core rulebooks (but they'll surely appear in suppliments quickly).

First impressions of changes.
What it's like to run a game in 4th edition.
Changes to classes, levels, monsters, and playstyle.

They're long articles, but if you already like D&D or are interested in starting playing it, they're definitely worth a read. Some interesting stuff coming there!

(PS: Thanks go to http://nodwick.humor.gamespy.com/ for the links.)

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Unread postby Spleen » Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:37 pm

Graaagh. Now I really wish I'd been able to go to D&D Experience; I could have given an RPGWWer's take on the new system. Fuck.
"Tell you what, Leto, I won't fight with you. Zeus' wives are pretty tough customers. You have my permission to boast openly that you have beaten the daylights out of me."
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Unread postby Capntastic » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:56 am

When is this out and how much will it cost me, the consumer?

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Unread postby Jak Snide » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:16 am

I must say that I'm liking the sound of this. My main concern is over the thematic shifts and how it affects existing settings. For a fresh setting and game, though, it sounds solid.

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Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:51 am

Hm! I may have to snap this up as an occasional switchup to the current standard of PARANOIA nights.
"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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Unread postby Jak Snide » Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:07 pm

Tangent: How many clones down are your players, Priam?

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Unread postby Justice Augustus » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:07 pm

That is my one sigh about this new edition. It will probably mean leaving behind a lot of past adventures and characters and starting over. A few months ago I wouldn't have minded, but now my group is really getting in to their characters and having fun with the setting. I guess we'll see, it's still several months to go, and I'll probably wait a while to make sure I don't suffer another 3.5 rebuying of books.

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:16 pm

I doubt I'm going to play it any time soon after it's released for sale. I got into 3.5 late and it's still shiney and new for me. I have all these PDFs for 3.5 that I haven't even opened yet, let alone read through them.

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Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:44 pm

Jak Snide wrote:Tangent: How many clones down are your players, Priam?


Group 1: One person is on clone 4, everybody else is on 3, due to two mass-kills. This is after two sessions.
Group 2: One person is on clone 3, one is still on their Prime(!), and everyone else is clone 2. This is after one session.

Good times.
"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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Unread postby Spleen » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:55 pm

I've been meaning to get ahold of Paranoia, myself. Do you recommend it?
"Tell you what, Leto, I won't fight with you. Zeus' wives are pretty tough customers. You have my permission to boast openly that you have beaten the daylights out of me."
-Hermes, the Iliad (Stanley Lombardo, translator) Book 21

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Unread postby Capntastic » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:57 pm

I do and that should be enough.

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Unread postby Kelne » Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:35 pm

I tend to be a bit leery of edition changes myself, having gone through a couple for Warhammer 40K. If a change is necessary and an improvement, then yes, by all means, hail the new edition.

Change for the sake of change is another matter. When the change invalidates all my old stuff (including fluff), and the company proceeds to redo the same books they did last time around, I become deeply cynical.

As of yet, I think it's still a bit early for me to tell what the course of the new edition will be, but I'm leaning towards cynical.

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Unread postby PriamNevhausten » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:17 am

Spleen wrote:I've been meaning to get ahold of Paranoia, myself. Do you recommend it?


In light of this comment, I have made a new post in this forum. By reading this message, you have been granted RED clearance to view the aforementioned thread, and reply.
"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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Unread postby Jak Snide » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:50 am

So, I found what appears to be a 4th Edition Playtest pdf, or a "Player's Handbook Lite Edition" as it calls itself. Dunno if this is a leak or a general release, but I'm sticking it up here for all to see. Not read it properly myself yet, so I can't comment on it.

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Unread postby NamagomiMk0 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:10 am

Obviously, as would probably be estimated, upon seeing a majority of the flavor, I'm throwing that half out. As for the system, I'm waiting to see how it turns out; especially since Fighters look to eventually no longer resemble Fire Emblem characters in their lack of variety whatsoever.

And no, claiming "omg a fighter's supposed to be abstract wah wah ToB is too animoo im a random anonytard" won't sway my opinion. No class should play like a Fire Emblem character. Ever.


[EDIT] Also, it turns out that, systemwise, there is more awesome. Trapfinding is now a feat. Which means that people other than rogues can find traps. Also, clerics are no longer expected by the developers to be a giant box of band-aids and other forms of healing. You'd have thought that the developers would have thought of these around the same time they determined that people other than Rangers can track, or something. Dear god.

Also, if I read correctly, they're taking Polymorph out, if not radically altering it so it is nowhere near as broken. It's about bloody time.

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Unread postby Jak Snide » Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:42 pm

Not had a chance to read the pdf yet, but I've half-read two others, linked below.

Races and Classes - Now de-Holmsed
Worlds and Monsters - Also on my webspace now.

Neither are big on specific rules, or talk about them at all, but talk more of the themes of each topic, the titles being pretty self explanatory. A few things I picked up from them, and other places.

-Party composition doesn't matter anywhere near as much due to no one class having a monopoly on one thing. Trapfinding was one, and the changes to HP are another. That, and there seem to be 4 general "roles" established, which many classes can fill. Both rogues and warlocks are "strikers," for example.
-Every class can regain their own HP in the form of a "Second Wind" type ability. Fighters, apparently, get better and more use out of this than other classes. This leads me to think that HP represents superficial damage, where being dropped into the negatives represents The Big Hit.
-The new lore/fluff/background isn't bad, but warping the existing D&D settings and cosmology to fit it is. The Blood War is also lame since, apparently, it doesn't affect the players at all. Demons are also now the Int 4 brand of Chaotic Evil. As a totally new setting the background stuff doesn't seem bad. Well, not all of it.
-And about alignments: they're mostly gone. Good and Evil exist as polar opposites, but mortal creatures and, at least initially, PCs lie between in the big realm of neutral. Other alignment mix ups include dragons not being Good or Evil depending on colour.
-The whole "points of light" philosophy is generally emphasised, PCs being heroes striking out into the vast, unknown places of the world. The exception to this is drow who, despite being the evil gits they've always been, are apparently going to be a standard(ish) player race, right along with all the "good" races. Woop.
-Race counts for something beyond 1st level. Apparently a 10th level dwarf fighter will be different from a 10th level elf fighter. What this means exactly I've yet to see.

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Unread postby Capntastic » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:15 pm

Goddamnit, Jak, I'd never thought you of all people whould Holmesroll me!

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Unread postby Idran1701 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:34 pm

What Zero means is apparently the first link is not the file one would expect given the file name, but instead the complete collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

While not bad reading material exactly, it would certainly be unexpected for anyone desiring to learn of both Races and Classes within 4E.

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Unread postby Jak Snide » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:26 pm

Confound it all. This teaches me not to check my download links. Uploading both of the latter two links to my own webspace, and shall replace them shortly.

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Unread postby Justice Augustus » Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:19 am

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuump! But with a reason!

A couple of days ago I checked a link from some webpage or other which brought to my attention that there was going to be a special preview night for 4th edition right here in London last night. As a small bonus it was going to be held at the London Dungeon, which is a pretty awful tourist attraction not too far from where I work. So I decided "what the hell, I had no plans for tonight beyond eating and rock band, I'll go check it out." I tried to rope Jak into coming with me, but he was having none of it, having heard the combined siren call of our couches and the land of nod.

So I turn up and there's about 40 odd people queuing up outside the door. Mostly guys in their late 20s to early 40s, and mostly they look pretty out of shape and wearing a mixture of far-too-big coats, black t-shirts, and jeans, so I figure I'm in the right place, even if I'm wearing a pinstripe suit and tie (I look fantastic in suits, just for your information). Even though I haven't pre-registered they let me in, and even give me one of the t-shirts (sweet! loot!) so I head into the dungeon.

There were about 10-15 tables (more people had shown up) with 6 people around them. They were running a sample hack-and-slash adventure with a basic premise (you're looking for a villager's lost children after having met up at a tavern and decided to go adventuring) and location (mausoleum). Characters were pre-made to save time (dwarf fighter, human fighter, eladrin wizard, human cleric, and a half-elf rogue who I was controlling).

Now they should have been pretty clear about this adventure having been designed for completely new players, as the mostly experienced group I was in wasted a lot of time looking for traps, searching, etc. It was really a kick-in-the-door style game with a few puzzle elements. There were only 2 combat encounters, but they did a good job of demonstrating the potential of 4th ed.

The hardest thing was getting used to having a LOT of high numbers. Remember these are all first level characters. The fighter, for example, had a base +5 to hit on every swing, so when you roll a 14 and have +5 vs a monster designed for a level 1 party, you assume you're going to hit, right? Wrong. A lot of the creatures had AC of 19+, which is where the abilities came in. For example, we were fighting some skeletons, and I had two at will attacks. One did 3 more damage, and was +4 vs AC, the other was +4 vs Reflex. Reflex, Fortitude, and Will are now static numbers, so it's not an opposed check anymore. As skeletons had an AC of 19 (I had to roll 15 or higher) but a reflex of 12 (I have to roll 8 or higher) I was glad to sacrifice 3 damage to ensure much more often hits. But then the high numbers come into play again. Things have a lot of hit points. It might make it less realistic (what kind of mage can take a dozen crossbow bolts before dropping?) but it does make the game a bit more intense. We found the best way to play was to gank. Everyone would target the same enemy, and unload a bunch of different abilities to make sure that they couldn't heal up or just to eliminate a potential source of damage. Because not only do the players do more damage, but monsters do too. I had about 27hp, and they could do a good 8-12 per hit on me.

So how was it to play? Well, it was fun. The powers make sure that each turn everyone had a few choices (which does slow it down a little) and so nobody feels useless, like the level 1 fighter - who used to have a choice between "I hit it" and "I hit it" - now can selected each turn whether to do an attack that, if successful, also swipes the other enemy standing next to him OR can do a slightly more powerful concentrated attack on a single target that will do a few points of damage even if he misses.

As for specifics, everything that was ULTRA IMBA POWERFUL has been toned down. Low level mages no longer have to worry about saving up their spells for that one special moment in the day when they will be most needed, but the flip-side of that is that those spells are less powerful. I think the result will be much more balance between the classes ie: no more will fighters feel useless when it gets to higher levels and no more will players feel they have to dual/multi/prestige class in order to contribute. Here's a quick runthrough of the classes that I saw:

Cleric: This guy was amazing. Ranged aggressive attacks that then aid an ally, attacks that cause an ally to be healed, and not bad damage. The cleric player said that he had never had so much fun playing a cleric before.

Fighter: On their own in a 1v1 they can hold it, but this class REALLY shines when used tactically with teamwork. Either shoving enemies around to position them right or unleashing some nasty combos, the fighter was like a dependable pillar. Nothing incredibly flashy, but you know it would fall apart without them. Plus his base damage was the highest out of anyone.

Rogue: The rogue was a lot of fun to play. Like the fighter, the rogue shines in teamwork, but couldn't do what the fighter does in a 1v1. The fighter sets them up, the rogue knocks them down with some nice flashy stuff (although by far the weakest in terms of saves and only beats the wizard on hitpoints).

Wizard: The first thing that the wizard did was cast magic missile...and miss. It's an end of an era! However, the constant use of abilities makes wizards much more confident. No more hoarding of spells or cursing yourself for having unleashed a spell too early, so wizards can really go to town on the damage.

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Unread postby Christian » Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:02 am

4th Edition is Grim. And also Dark.

That is all I have to say on the matter.

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Unread postby Justice Augustus » Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:12 am

So, following up from the playtesting session I attended, I ran a short one-off adventure with pre-made characters for 3 of my players (they took 2 characters each). Despite initial reservations from most of the people (going off the rumours from the internet) the overall impression was incredibly positive. Everyone had a very good time, and the classes (Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Paladin, Warlock, and Wizard) each had its own advantages and were all incredibly fun. Now they've started rolling up two characters each for a 4th edition game (for when the 4th player in our troop can't make it).

My only dislike is what has been removed in terms of races and classes. Then I opened the monster manual and found that not only were gnomes and orcs (which is a good enough template for half-orcs) there, but a whole range of others allowing for about 25 choices when put together with the player's handbook. Sure I'll miss Bard (though Warlord goes a long way to remedying that), Barbarian (although Fighter allows for the damage output of that class), Druid, and Monk, but other than that it mostly seems to be a slightly simpler and more streamlined version of the game I know and love.


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