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Trying to get some love for 4th

   
My issue with 4e when it first arrived, and an issue that has endured, is that it felt too stiff. So what do I mean by that?
First of, let me point out that I'm find with playing 4e these days, I just appreciate it for what it is, rather than wishing it would be different in some regards.

4e feels like a tabletop version of an MMORPG. When I play a MMORPG, or any computer-based RPG really, I'm fine with "once per battle" abilities because it's a coded game. Having encounter powers in a tabletop game feels a bit strange, especially outside of structured combat.

I most notably felt this while playing a Storm Sorcerer and trying to use an encounter power to help the townsfolk put out a large fire. I blew a lot of it out with a fierce gust of wind and then... then I couldn't do that for a while. Which is fine. Except it's not based on uses per day, or time spent recharging or anything. As is, it doesn't matter if putting out the fire takes half an hour or five hours, it's still the same scene and encounter so I can only use it once as written. Let's say the character is in a combat situation that lasts a long time. For whatever reason, you're nearing round 20+. Maybe you had to chase 'em for a while, maybe there was a stage 2 boss fight, who knows. Regardless, you've used your encounter power and you're out until next time.
Then after this boss fight, you have two short encounters with a total time of less than the boss fight, yet in that span of time you could use it twice. Feels weird.
Sure, you can have a DM that allows you to take a short rest to refresh the power and then use it again out-of-combat, but it feels clunky and that's technically a houserule since you're not supposed to take a short rest within the same encounter/scene. So the practical issues can be solved, but it still pulls me out of any immersion I've managed to scrounge together and it bluntly reminds me that it's a codified game.

See, practically speaking 1/encounter is convenient, but it feels weird from an in-universe perspective. I'm at heart a Watsonian thinker when it comes to making sure things make sense, more so than a Doylist.

Another thing is that DnD wears its tabletop skirmish ancestry on its sleeve for all to see, but 4e was very blatant about it. I'm not playing DnD to have sophisticated social mechanics, but I felt 4e was closer to a tabletop game than a tabletop RPG at times when reading the books.

Now, there are a few things 4e does better than both 3.5 and 5e IMO.
It's the most balanced as far as different classes remaining relevant. The "Magic Is Best" syndrome is the most mitigated in this edition and I like that. That's its biggest strength compared to 3.5 by far.

It's biggest strength compared to 5e is something completely different, namely that you have stuff to spend your money on. 5e have sloppy magic item rules with generalized costs and honestly it's a bother trying to spend treasure to acquire more or better gear via gold, because the system isn't interested in that. It basically goes "We assume there's no ways to buy items outside of a few basic ones, but if you want to do it differently, here's the bare skeleton of something. You do the work.". Heck, the internet had to reverse-engineer a Wealth-by-level table to give DM's any help in trying to figure out what's appropriate for characters above level 1.
Compared to 4e, where it's very clear how you can spend gold on stuff, given that almost all items come in at least 2 versions, one being better and more expensive.

My first D&D character (my first touch with tabletop roleplaying games actually) was in 4th Edition. My longest running character belongs to an epic 4E campaign. A few years back when I proposed to run a mini-campaign to initiate a a handful of people to RPG, I also used 4E, for simplicity's sake (although to be perfectly honnest I'd probably use 5E now).

So I'm not a 4E hater. I wouldn't describe myself as a 4E lover, though.

I like some aspects of the typical 4E lore (the devas as a player race for instance). And mechanically speaking, as a DM, it's also way simpler and quicker to build an encounter in 4E than in 3.5... and with way more predictable results — while in 3.5, the wizard with the right spell prepared at the right moment may suddenly put a whole campaign at risk, as I experimented again recently

But my main reproach against 4E is that, in it, magic serves only to fight. And really, 4E is all about fighting, and little else. If as a DM, you want your players to do other things, or want to build a world infused with magic, you have to pull it from a vacuum, because nothing in the mechanics —save a handful of rituals maybe (that only a very few classes can perform)— aknowledges the possibility of a world where your time isn't fully employed to punch a monster, loot its possessions, rest, and punch again. Also, the mechanics of those fights themselves tend to make them reeeaaally long... and what is true as a tabletop game becomes way worse on play-by-post for obvious reasons.

I'm still basically a newbie in 5E, and as of yet I don't have the experience from the DM side of it, but all in all, my first impression is that it kept some good ideas from 4E mechanics to keep things simple and accessible, but managed to reflavour it in a way that's not only about fighting and punching. Kudos for that.

Well, I was dragged kicking and screaming into it by a DM who insisted on playing the most recent and up to date products... and I fell in love with it... unlike other editions, (3, 5, PF) martials are not that paltry a threat compared to spellcasters at high level... and they have psionics, although strange and unusual in design.

I mean, by far the biggest reason I do still love 4e, and the major thing it got right over editions previous, is healing surges. There are no main healer classes in 4e, because you heal yourself! Even Leaders, who some players mistakenly think are always healers, almost never actually heal you (outside of a few 1/day powers); they let you heal yourself with a bonus. It's an important distinction, because it means each player needs to keep track of their own healing resources rather than relying on the healer's mana bar or spell slots or something similar. And it gives strong incentives to build your character with defenses and defensive options in mind, instead of just blaming the healer when you get beat down.

I am glad that they ported a similar concept to 5e (i.e. Hit Dice), and "minor" action healing (via Healing Word) as well. Although both seem nerfed somewhat, and I kind of resent that 5e makes Healer a role again, instead of making players manage their own healing resources.

4E is by far my favourite edition of D&D. Mostly because I enjoy all the tactical aspect of it, which no other edition has come close to. You have é so many different ways to affect the battlefield and other characters that I feel everyone always have multiple options. Not to mention it happens regardless of your class, as (almost) all of them are balanced and resourceful.That on top of what the there said make it the most fun to play with friends and actually feel party of a group everyone actually helps.

My take on it:
  • I find that 4E plays and feels like a tabletop port of a video game. If you approach it with a video game concept in mind, 4E just works.
  • Because it feels like a video game, it's not quite suited to wear the mantle of the traditional concept of tabletop RPG. It's a sacrifice for leaning farther toward the side of exciting, rules-heavy combat.
  • We particularly like the concept of the Minion. Even in our 5E games, our GM uses Minions. When at the correct Challenge Rating, they can still threaten the PC's while being rather easy to dispatch, allowing the plot to move along.

To me, 4th edition feels like D&D Minis 2.0. It's fun in its own way but as GreyWulf said, it's more of a tactical wargame and less of a roleplaying game.

Edit: The sameness between the classes definitely contributes to the video-gamey feel. The mechanics may have different names but generally do the same things within each of the archetypes.

Folks, I've just placed ads for two (intertwined) 4e campaigns. They are in the forgotten realms.

The first one, Paragon Tier Traditional PbP , is a traditional Myth-weavers PbP game at 11th level.

The second one, Heroic Tier Live Flashbacks, wil use roll20 for the game table + some (likely VoIP) teleconferencing solution so that we can do periodic multi-hour live sessions. These will be isolated vingettes from the longer story of the characters. PCs will advance after every few sessions so we should be able to climb from level 1 to level 10 in about 1 year.

So those of you who pointed out that you like the tactical aspect of 4e -- that's (of course) what I plan to focus on with the heroic tier campaign.

If you can do both then that is great! My original idea was to mostly the same party in each and have the heroic tier be flashbacks to the back story of the paragon tier adventuring party. But there is no reason that the two parties need to have full overlap. A venn diagram with partial overlap or even two disjoint circles is fine.

I felt like 4e was just a tapletop video game. It lost the sense of true role-playing in the detailed mechanics. I'm loving 5e, as I find it brings back the original nature of tabletop that we had in the 70's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leons1701 View Post
Pretty much. I like and defend 4e, I've spent a good deal of time over the years correcting some of the more common errors people make about it, but ultimately, I know I'm not changing many minds because it's a matter of taste. I had a definite advantage in accepting 4e because I played so many different systems over the years. So even if it "wasn't D&D", I didn't necessarily need it to be. But plenty of others did, and it failed them.
That's probably not the reason, or not the only one. When I tried D&D4e, I'd played more different games than I'd played editions of D&D...and let me make that clear, I've played almost all of them (even though I started near the end of the D&D2e)!
In fact, I'd played more non-D&D games than D&D, and as my user title points out, I'm focusing on non-D&D games now.
But at least I gave it a fair try, unlike the people that chose to condemn it without playing.

Still, my reasons for disliking D&D 4e had, and still have, nothing to do with it "not being D&D". They're much more about said edition basically hand-picking some of the elements of D&D that I like the least, and then putting them to the fore while toning down the ones I like better.

Back to the OP: I'm sure that if you choose to start a 4e game, it would generate lots of interest. Yes, the players pool is smaller, but then those players don't get to play the game they like often, so you're not competing against the 1234567890 PF games out there!
And, despite it not being up my alley, best of luck and have fun!







 

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