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D&D 4th Edition:
Cinematic Combat

By Shamus
on Tuesday Jul 8, 2008
Filed under:
Tabletop Games


I recant on yesterday’s complaints about the combat in 4e. Part of my complaint was based on the misconception that once-a-day powers reset at midnight, which is arbitrary and mechanical. (Part of the problem is that I’m reading both the PHB and DMG at the same time, scattershot, instead of just sitting down and reading them in an organized or responsible manner.) But the main reason I objected to the powers was that I couldn’t see the cinematic / dramatic / possibilities it opened up, because I’m so used to combat being a break in the roleplaying.

The fact that players can try tricks and stunts and improvise with the environment is exactly the sort of thing I’ve always wanted to do, but found the books got in the way. Early in my DM career I tried a few fights with epic scenery (like a rope bridge in a storm, which is right out of the 3.5 DMG) and while they were nice, the setting didn’t really translate into more interesting combat. It was just something cool I described before we began the fight on a stark grid, standing next to each other while we rolled lots of dice. If a player had decided to cut the bridge, or attempt to push their foe over the side, I would have been at a loss. First we’d have to muck about with attacks of opportunity, then I’d have to figure out if this sort of thing was already covered and if there were rules governing it, and then (assuming they didn’t) I’d make up some ad-hoc way of resolving it and the mechanics would feel rudderless. Are we setting precedent here? Am I going to regret doing this? Is this going to imbalance things later?

The page 42 rule – where page 42 of the DMG gives you rough guidelines for all sorts of improvisational situations – is something we could have done in 3.5, but having it in writing gives a certain sanction to this sort of business, and gives players the assurance that while the current action isn’t provided for in the books, the DM is still being governed in some way by the rules and not surrendering to anarchy or capricious whimsy.

I like Rule 42 so much I’m going to drag it along with me – as best as the rules allow – on our Star Wars campaign. (We’re using d20. I understand there is a d6 version as well, but the d20 is the sourcebook I have, so we’re going with that.)

Comments (94)

1 2

  1. Foom says:

    I see many replies here are saying that the rules shouldn’t get in the way of the storytelling. Why play RPGs at all if that’s truly the case? It’s just an exercise in improvised, cooperative story building. Which is fine, but as a player, I would be bothered if the DM threw away the rules every time there was an opportunity to enhance the story.

  2. Derek K says:

    I think Alan makes an excellent point – they chose to sacrifice certain aspects in order to highlight others, and in doing so, may well have killed off the “we can all play it” vibe of 3.X

    Does that mean that I’m part of a dying breed?

    Course, I’m not really a simulationist. I don’t care if my rules can appropriately simulate the physics of a fireball. I only care if they’re the same on either side. Not sure what that makes me. ;)

    My real problem with different rules is this: How do I know the DM is doing it right? I haven’t read any of the DMG, so it may not be as hand-wavy as it sounds, but my reading of this is “DMs build encounters that are right.” How does the DM know he’s doing an appropriate job, if he’s not using the same tools? How can people deconstruct it afterwards if the only rationale is “It seemed right.” I worry that Bob is going to go from game A to game B, and have a big shock at the opponents in B, who are based on GM B’s feel of what’s right.

    Again, I think some of the issue is that it’s DnD 4.0. If this were “Glorarsibar and Oerthitoril” I wouldn’t be bothered that much. But DnD 1-3 taught me that human opponents will be built on par with the group, and 3.X taught me that monsters would be too. Now 4.0 is saying “Yeah, all that? It doesn’t really apply any more.” But of course WotC isn’t going to kill the brand name, or anything crazy like that. So it’s just a matter of shifting out your brain.

    Oh, and Wintermute: I’d suggest 3.75/Pathfinder, rather than 3.5 – the majority of their changes are excellent, ime.

  3. Eldiran says:

    “If a player says they want their next PC to be able to pull off the trick they just saw an NPC use, and your only response is “uh, you can't actually build that, legally”, then I call shenanigans.”

    That actually sounds legit to me. I was referring to both monsters and NPCs when speaking of the new looseness of the system, but I can understand an objection to having an inaccessible martial-arts maneveur used upon you. In such a situation, I’d be tempted to respond either with “you’re too low level for that” or “okay, help me figure out why you would be able to learn it and what level power it’s about equal to, and you can take it later.” But it’s important to note my ramblings have been from the perspective of someone who has never used the literal version of a monster from the MM, because they’d either rather tailor it specifically and just copy the general ideas, or make something new entirely. So I like to screw around with nifty powers. Normal DMs, I expect, will have their ‘NPCs’ much closer to PCs in their abilities. For example, the Human Rogue Vampire Lord in the MM has Deft Strike and Imperiling Strike as powers, identical to a PC rogue. They do not, however, have the 8 or so powers a level whatever rogue would have, only those two. There’s the difference, one which is presumably tolerable as far as realism goes.

    Though admittedly, there are some capabilties only NPCs have access to, such as the fact that ‘Solo’ foes often get an extra standard action per round. (I accidentally said Elite earlier, my bad.) I think this has, as of yet, only been applied to non-humanoid creatures, so there’s no real disparity, but I’m going to feel free to give my humanoid NPCs extra actions if it fits them. If necessary, you could easily play the system having NPCs behave the same as PCs. I’m only praising the fact that it encourages the opposite, since I like it better that way.

    Regardless, I heartily encourage you to try 4e out.

    This is a good discussion. Carry on!

    EDIT: @Derek: I think WotC assumes that DMs who don’t know what they’re doing with monster powers will stick with those given in the MM. Either way… given how much more powerful a 4e level 1 fighter is than a level 1 mob, you really don’t want them to use the PC generation methods. It’s kind of like the PCs automatically have the “Hero” template, which makes them crazy awesome. An NPC built like a PC is really powerful. Even though you might say two level 1 fighters are equal, the fact remains that you’re meant to fight more than one encounter per day. An unharmed fighter NPC is going to obliterate anything but a fresh fighter PC.

    How do these comments get so long…

  4. Graham says:

    @Derek K –

    My real problem with different rules is this: How do I know the DM is doing it right? I haven't read any of the DMG, so it may not be as hand-wavy as it sounds, but my reading of this is “DMs build encounters that are right.” How does the DM know he's doing an appropriate job, if he's not using the same tools? How can people deconstruct it afterwards if the only rationale is “It seemed right.” I worry that Bob is going to go from game A to game B, and have a big shock at the opponents in B, who are based on GM B's feel of what's right.

    The DMG actually includes extensive tools for this. From encounter building to creating new monsters or NPCs, the DMG has lots of guidelines and charts for it.

    So, yes, GM A and GM B will put an encounter together differently, and build a monster differently, but so long as they’re going off the DMG guidelines and charts, they should both get it approximately right.

    My other argument is that in 3.X, when the GM was using the same tools, we still didn’t know that what we created was balanced. A Fighter 5 / Wizard 5 was supposed to be a CR 10 NPC, but was actually considerably less. A level 15 Sorcerer with full spell slot was supposed to be a CR 15, but was actually somewhat more. An Outsider with 18 hit dice was… well, nobody ever knew. Monster hit dice were never defined with respect to CR.

    In 4e, you decide level, role, and ability scores, and you have 90% of your monster/NPC’s stats. From there, you choose a couple cool abilities, give them level-appropriate effects (there are charts and paragraphs of advice for this), and you have a monster.

    I have made 4 4e monsters. Each took under 30 minutes, and the 4th one took 10 minutes. All 4 were done in an hour and a half. My next custom monster will probably also be under 10 minutes.

  5. Rob G says:

    Never commented before, but I DID want to comment on the PC vs. NPC debate.

    Barring MONSTER creation, NPC creation follows the same rules as character creation, only stripped down. They encourage you not to bother with picking NPC skills unless necessary, not to bother picking powers unless it’s necessary, etc. In other words, it’s “speedy one-shot character generation”.
    It also gives a small bonus to NPC characters, which it recommends you use rather than tallying up all their feats, items, etc. So (IIRC) it gives a 1 modifier to all NPC d20 rolls & defenses; this is to assume he’s proficient with his weapon, maybe has taken a feat like Dodge, etc etc. Rather than adding up a huge pile of disparate (and possibly so, possibly not stacking) modifiers, it just gives you a general number to add to all NPCs.

    There is nothing stopping you from “rolling a PC” as an NPC aside from time; this system is simply streamlined. Other than that, they follow the same rules.

    And on another note I saw above: the DMG has excellent encounter building rules & guidelines. Rather than checking monster challenge ratings, adding them up and dividing by pi, calculating the EL, then guessing if it’s a good encounter for the party, there’s simply an Encounter Level with an XP budget. So you could throw five equal level monsters at the PCs to fill the XP budget for a medium difficulty encounter. From there you can easily modify it by making “elite” monsters (for example, the leader of the foes) who is worth more XP and is more difficult. It’s easy to calculate how many monsters sholud be used in a particular encounter.

  6. Mavis says:

    Stepping in I’ll admit that well I’ve read some of the 4ed rules – I’ve certainly not absorbed them and I’ve certainly not actually played it.

    However it seems to be that D&D 4thED is actually much closeer to a game such as Descent then anything else. A slightly freeform version of desecent perhaps still a board game at it’s heart. With the roleplaying being done around the game – even encouraged – rather then a key part of it.

    It also sounds like it’s moved to an ‘abstractionist’ position with rules existing for balance without having to reflect ‘reality’.

    Nothign wrong with any of that – I’ve got a copy of ‘road to legends’ a Descent expanstion that exists to add an ongoing campaign to descent under my desk right now. Equally it sounds like a an excellent way of getting new people into the game and helping a novice GM. Again good. That’s the hardest bar to entry to RPG’s – getting a good GM.

    All that said – having got in RPG years ago – right now the tiny indy improv game ‘in a wicked age’ appeals to me more then D&D.

  7. Scott S. says:

    The DMG in general is an excellent book this time out. It actually contains a lot of material useful for running a game, which, oddly enough, was not really the case in previous editions. Previous versions tended to assume you were familiar with running a game and just needed to know what the specific rules for a given situation in this particular game were.

    In fact, the 4e DMG’s first couple of chapters are about as good an introduction to GMing as I’ve seen in print.

  8. Derek K says:

    The 3.X DMG was an odd beast indeed. I mean, tables for wealth after first level in the DMG?

    Magic items hidden from the players? It spoke of very much a “I’m the DM, I know all the stuff, you get nuttin’ unless I give it to ya” sort of attitude.

    4.0 says “Hey, players, here’s your cool stuff. Hey, DM, here’s how you make it fun.” From what I’ve glanced at so far, at least. ;)

  9. Goodson says:

    The more “cinematic” flavor seems interesting and not too terribly damaging to the system overall, but that’s not my biggest beef. What I don’t like is that we seem to have ditched the entire magic system for something new. I have a problem with that. And before anyone starts to hate on the spell-slot magic system, remember that for good or ill, it’s what everyone has been using for over 20 years! I just don’t see a reason for such a big change.

  10. Derek K says:

    @Godson: Because the only reason we were still using it is *because* it’s what people have used for 20 years – it wasn’t really a great system. In fact, many people reallllllly disliked it.

    Since 4.0 was already ripping things apart, this probably seemed like a good time to do the spell system too.

    That being said, I miss the wide range of options a wizard had in 3.5 vs 4.0

  11. Alan De Smet says:

    Goodson (73): Why change from the Vancian magic system?

    Because the Vancian magic system was a resource management game. A really, really difficult resource management game that encouraged decidedly non-heroic behavior

    The system encouraged casters to blow through all their spells in the first first or two (making the fights much easier, and casters awesome), then demand that everyone else camp at noon.

    Casters were expected to guess at how many encounters and challenges they would face during the day and to spread their spells out evenly. In practice this was very difficult. If a caster was wrong and used their spells too fast, they were punished with having to hide in the back for the rest of the day uselessly firing crossbow bolts at enemies. If they used their spells too slow, they were less effective party members and not achieving their heroic potential.

    The game also demanded that casters try to predict the challenges the caster would face. Guess the wrong utility spell you need? Try to convince the party that you want to camp. A DM couldn’t reliably plan on an challenge either requiring a particular spell without careful planning.

    At high levels casters were drowning in information. My 20th level wizard’s spellbook from last year’s campaign was daunting. The summary version of his spellbooks was 8 pages. I’ve been playing D&D for just about 20 years now, and I fight the thought of playing a high level cleric daunting. The system created a barrier that essentially said, “If you don’t like massive amounts of research, you don’t get to play a high level wizard or cleric.”

    The information overload kills the GM as well. If a GM wants to avoid having the PCs trivially use magic to past a particular problem, at high levels he needs to be familiar with piles of spells and their interactions. (A few years ago I ran the reprint of the Tomb of Horrors. For such a famously deadly module, and one updated to new rules, a particularly clever player ran roughshod over it with clever but entirely legal use of spells. It was neat, but it turned the game into “The Wizard and His Useless Henchmen” and it removed much of the heroism from the game.)

    The idea of the Vancian system is awesome. The idea of a resource management subgame is fun. It was a logical way to try and simulate Jack Vance’s fantasy stories*. Finding clever interactions for spells is a blast. But in practice once you got past level 10 or so, it was a game reserved for accountants and lawyers.

    I’m absolutely with Derek K; I do miss the range of options. But the old solution was broken. I see rituals as an interesting attempt at a middle ground. Sadly I don’t yet have enough experience with rituals to know how well they work, nor how a massive injection of utility spells to recreate the breadth of 3e will impact the game balance.

    * Of course, isn’t it neat that in Vance’s stories a wizard only memorizes five or six spells, and by chance they’re the exact five or six spells he needs in the story? 1e-3e D&D completely fails to simulate that.

  12. Graham says:

    I will say, as well, that there is a reason few non-D&D games use vancian casting.

    Just because something has always been done a certain way, that doesn’t mean that’s the best way. It doesn’t mean that way is bad, either, but tradition does not make something good.

    If it did, no cavemen would ever have sharpened their clubs to make spears, or started a fire to cook their food. “But we’ve always eaten food raw” doesn’t seem like a very good reason to keep doing it, does it?

    But that’s in retrospective. At the time, there were probably a number of cavemen who really hated the idea of cooked meat. Even going to far as to call those who wanted cooked meat “Fire-tards”.

    …okay, this analogy has gone on far enough. :P

  13. Scott S. says:

    Utility spells aren’t exactly missing, for what it’s worth. They’ve just been turned into rituals, instead of class powers. Anyone who spends a feat and has the right skill can learn to cast them. (A couple of classes get the feat for free. Wizards also get to learn free rituals every couple of levels.)

    Rituals now cover all those situational spells — the ones most people only prepared in certain circumstances, or just carried around scrolls of in case they were needed. Magic mouth, scrying, make whole, various divinations, secret page, phantom steed, animal messenger, raise dead, passwall, and a bunch more.

    The main limitation on casting a ritual is the casting time — it takes at least 10 minutes. So a wizard with the Knock ritual can still try to open that lock, but if it needs to be done quickly, you want the rogue with the Thievery skill to do it.

    There’s some flexibility loss; things like arcane lock or passwall can’t be used in combat any more. But on the whole, I like the idea. Need some utility magic, and time isn’t critical? Research the right ritual, take 10 minutes or an hour to cast it, there you are.

    The powers the wizard knows are just those spells he’s mastered sufficiently to “quick-cast” on a moment’s notice; they’re his battle magic. Give him time, and he can still pull out the contact other plane and get some supernatural advice, or shadow walk many miles in a single day. And — and this is the brilliant part — anyone else who commits the resources to leaning the rituals can access the same utility effects. The wizard gets a leg up because arcane research is part of his theme, but the rogue or the fighter who wants to can shadow walk with the best of them.

    The actual ritual selection is a bit light right now, but easy enough to expand.

  14. Derek K says:

    “Dear Fire-tards:

    Have fun smoking up your caves and burning your fingers. I’m going to be over here eating my meat the way I know how. Oh – look. I stabbed a mammoth. I carved out a piece….and I’m done. How’s your dinner? Oh, really? You haven’t even started the fire? So, what, 2 hours before you can eat? Huh. Nice. Hope you remember all the rules to your new ‘fire’ too – don’t touch it, don’t touch the meat too soon, make sure the meat isn’t too close, isn’t too far…. Yeah, seems like a *great* new system you have going there. Real progress. Thanks Prometheus, you money grubber.”

  15. Eric says:

    I hope you enjoy “worms” from raw meat.

  16. Derek K says:

    Worms? Oh, right, you grew up on “vegetables” and can’t handle the stuff we eat. I forgot. Obviously fire dumbs down food for people that are too weak to handle *real* meat. I guess if you want to eat some sissified loser food, you’re welcome to it. Me? I’ll eat something with *substance*.

  17. Eric says:


  18. Gerard says:

    Rule 42: All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

    No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm, and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.The Hunting of the Snark

  19. Kaeltik says:

    I’m a bit confused. When did simulation become mutually exclusive with narrative and “gaming”? I’m not real sure what is meant by the last one, but I suspect it means “action without paperwork.” Is that correct?

    You have to understand that I started with D&D when I was seven or eight years old. My group dabbled in Cyberpunk, Whitewolf, GURPS, and MERP, but AD&D 2e was undisputed king. (Though I remember a couple of players who really liked Cyberpunk, which always devolved into endless dice-fest combat, without context or rationale. Would these be gamists?)

  20. Alan De Smet says:

    @Kaeltik: Simulationist, Gamist, and Narrativist have very specific and regrettably non-obvious meanings. The trio comes from discussions on The Forge (indie-rpgs.com). Since they’re so non-obvious, people frequently mean slightly different things, even people at The Forge. It’s a useful descriptive system, but the terrible names have caused endless confusion and conflict.

    If you’ve got piles of time on your hands, these are probably the most definitive definitions: Narrativism, Gamism, and Simulationism. The bad news is that I read those articles, read the linked forum threads, read other articles, and it still took me a year before it completely sunk in. It’s that badly described. Which is a shame, there is good thinking in there.

    Here’s the embarassing part. I proceeded in my above post to screw it up anyway.

    If you don’t have piles of time, here’s the crude summary:

    Narrativism: The result of game play should be a good story. Not just a story, but a good one. You’ll probably want rising action, a climax, a denouement. You should probably have a theme. (The above article demands a theme.) Worrying about getting a flanking position and managing your inventory are decidedly non-narrativist. Also, your character should probably bend a bit to in favor of a better story. “Make whatever character you want” is highly problematic for narrativist play, as the resulting group of characters may not have a story more interesting than “we hate each other, move away, and never see each other again.” D&D has traditionally been very weak at this style of play. There damn near no rules that explicitly supporting it.

    Gamism: You’re there to be challenged. Combat is typical, but it doesn’t have to be. You can win, if only the current adventure. It’s you versus someone, be it NPCs, other PCs, or potentially the environment. You need rules you can rely on to provide a “fair” competition. D&D has always had a strong element of this. 4e provides lots of crunchy gamist tools in the form of powers. Shadowrun is another game that tends down this route.

    Simulationism: You’re trying to exist within the created world. You think as your character. Typically this might mean lots of rules simulating the world, but that’s not strictly necessary. You do need enough rules that actions and results are reasonably connected. GM fiat is problematic for simulationism, because it becomes hard to think in world. Note that simulationism doesn’t mean “realistic,” you’re trying to simulate the setting in question. If your setting is full of vampire crocodiles doing wire-fu, your simulation better support vampire crocodiles doing wire-fu.

    Now a key idea of GNS theory is that if you try to do them all at once, you end up with a sad pile of mediocrity. By embracing a subset, you can be awesome in some areas at the expense of other areas. (My Life With Master is the best example I know if. Damn near zero gamism and significantly reduced simulationism, but hell if you don’t reliably get surprisingly good narrative stories out of it, relatively trim of dead weight.)

    So, as I said, I screwed up. Upon reflection, 4e remains strong in both Gamism and Simulationism. The gamist play is even stronger, with powers, neat combat options, and the like. The simulationist play changed from a world that was more “realistic” to a more “heroic” world. In 3e improvised weapons are a waste of time compared to real weapons. In 4e, they’re awesome. In 3e you were encouraged to have one fight per day if you possibly could, carefully marshalling your resources. In 4e, you’re encouraged to plow through as many as you possibly can each day. In 3e bad planning or bad luck could leave a wizard useless and hiding in the back of the party. In 4e the wizard should be kicking at least a little ass in every fight. In 3e a clever set of players armed with the magic system could combine spells in internally consistent ways with level unbalanced results. In 4e much of that capability was stripped out (less of a win for the simulation, but a huge win for gamism).

    If you’ve got the time, and perhaps the stomach to handle reading some decidedly arrogant writing, GNS theory and the rest of the Forge discussions can be decidedly enlightening to how to play games.

  21. Graham says:

    Thing is, D&D actually manages to give good G and S, while still allowing for decent Narrativism.

    This is primarily because Narrativism is very rules-independent. There are rulesets that can encourage it, but no ruleset prevents it from being done well, as it is primarily up to the GM to give a good Narrativist game.

    But, as has been said, all game theory breaks down when you add D&D to the mix. (I subscribe to RSP theory, myself.)

  22. Kaeltik says:

    Alan, thank you. I could not have hoped for a better response. That said, Graham‘s first two paragraphs [87] pretty much sum up my opinion.

    In retrospect, it is very likely that my old group failed at other systems because we never had the right GM. For D&D, we did. That supports Graham and Eric’s thesis about 4e (as I interpret it): with a good GM and a group of players that are willing to work with him the rule set is just a common jumping-off point, with every rule set deficient in some way. Does this mean that a poor GM could ruin a gaming experience? Yes, but can anyone to point out an RPG where this isn’t the case?

    In my life I have had 9 GMs (myself included). Of those, only two have been good (I am not one of them :)), but those two made it all worth while.

  23. Anon says:

    Refer: 15

    Now, the thing you have to realize is that those same group inclusions can be done in 3.x

    I hate to be captain obvious, but “skill challenges” is the exact same thing as a skill-based obstacle whether it be trap, ambush, puzzle, or social encounter; your players just need to be creative enough, and the GM vague/open-minded enough to come to the multi-player solutions instead of the cliched single-skill-plus-buffs solution

    on hitpoints, they work exactly the same as 3.x, it’s just described differently. though if you read carefully, it’s described pretty much the same but in different words; words simple enough for the SPEDdie gamers to grasp

    (no offense intended to people with actual mental difficulties)

    on the powers-for-everyone bullcrap that I keep hearing is soooo great because its soooo original and soooo totally changes the face of gaming… really? really?!

    I think WoW and almost every other MMORPG in existence had the ‘powers’ thing down before 4e soiled itself by touching the foul idea, all the gleemax drones did to powers was remove the mana aspect and replace it with a more abstract time-based recharge

    IMO, you can emulate (almost) any ‘power’ with a creative combination of feats and class features (and potentially items, magic or otherwise). Powers are for Superheroes, D&D runs adventurers; learn the freaking difference hack’n’slash gerbils

    And onto the BIGGEST error in the so-called ‘fan-freakin-tastic’ fourth edition, is the detachment of alignment from both game mechanics and roleplaying…

    You don’t wan’t lawful good characters getting clobbered by 5 unholy, axiomatic fullblades of doom, then just knock alignment effects from your universe; easy-shmeazy, no more planar alignments, no alignment-based/effect magical spells, yada freakin’ yada.

    BUT, a character’s alignment means much more than just game mechanics, it’s a written declaration of his/her most basic mental structure: how they view the world around them and react to the other personalities within it.

    Simply, for those of your who think the term ‘roleplaying’ means jumping into a fantasy world for a few hours to grab loot off of random beasties and maybe achieve a PK or three to brag about back on the forums, YOUR ALIGNMENT DOES EFFECT WHAT DESCISIONS YOU CAN MAKE FOR YOUR CHARACTER.

    Yes, you may not be that alignment, and it may be difficult reacting to a fictional world with a radically different mindset (YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT, PLAYING A ROLE IS A BIT OF WORK, POOR YOU), but that’s why there are NINE alignments to choose from, as well as DESCRIPTIONS about them (OH, I FORGOT, YOU GERBILS SKIP PAST THE STORYLINE SECTIONS IN FINAL FREAKING FANTASY. WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? BOOSTING YOUR IQ A FEW POINTS ABOVE FIFTY?!)

    BUT REALLY, roleplaying is optional, you don’t HAVE to do it, but if you take the time to make a character with a theme to its abilities, a lick of personality, and some HINT of a background, you might actually enjoy yourself even more then just moshing through faceless baddies with a handful of named, limited use “powers” (GASP, BLASHPHEMY)

    But seriously, Hack’n’slash gerbils are the largest gamer demographic (CONGRATS, YOU GET THE BIGGEST PIECE OF THE PIE) which is why EVERY SINGLE game that comes out is crafted to your UNIQUE and SIMPLE tastes, which makes more work for the rest of us. Sure with three-point edition, all the H&S gerbils had to do was discard a majority of the rulebooks (THE PARTS WITH MOST OF THE WRITTING IN THEM, YOU CALL IT “FLUFF”), all you need are stats and tables (NOT TO MENTION A CONTRIVED SET OF MECHANICS TO GO THROUGH CONVERSATION WITHOUT ACTUALLY TALKING TO PEOPLE (aka. Bluff, Intimidate, Gather Information, etc. But they are a nice abstraction for when one is at a loss for words, or in addition to the words and such)), but with the gaming industry’s catering to the…

    Eh, rant over, I was starting to lose my point anyways, if it wasn’t lost already… oh yeah, 3.x is just as good, if not supremely better than 4e because it has more versatility, and I like it, even if 3.x takes more work to put together; it’s a better game than 4e and its future progeny can ever be. Period.

  24. Eric says:

    Uuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh………….alignments are still in the game, they just don’t limit the powers you can use. I did a quick 4e game last weekend, and my character’s alignment still made me scrutinize the world according to said alignment. The deity’s still require a specific alignments, just more than one in some cases.

  25. NYhotep says:

    Alignment should be primarilly a role playing experience, not a simulationist chart-fest.

    Incidently, check the errata; all challenges now fail if you roll 3 failures (rather than difficulty based). The number of successes required is still variable. I’m not sure what the rationale for the change is, as players will all know when they have screwed up now.

    The Vancian magic system was an excellent simulation of Vancian stories (apart from the obvious problem Alan mentioned above). Unfortunately, it’s useless for representing any other magic system in literature. Vancian magic is dead. Long live just about any other alternative.

    As to skill challenges, yes, any Gm could have done exactly the same using 3.5 rules. The problem is, most of them didn’t. I suspect many never even thought of it. Now it’s in the rules, there’s no excuse for not using it.

    If you are having trouble making up characters, there is at least one character generator out there (http://www.pathguy.com/cg4.htm). You’ll still need to read up on the powers though. The dude here (http://www.asmor.com/scripts.php) has a monster generator and other stuff.

  26. Doyle says:

    I absolutely hate 4th Edition. You can flame me at my site.

  27. ORLY says:

    Did i just read that a DM would be at a loss had someone tried to push an monster over the edge of a rope bridge? or wouldn't know what to do had a person tried to cut the rope? This is my only quam with 4E. It is written for the novice in D&D. witch is fine, just not a reason to put bumpers on all the sharp edges of the older versions of D&D leaving the more experienced gamers wanting. We all need to start somewhere. But i don't see how it is a worthwhile edition when all it has done is added a few characters and then strung gaming resources out to force you to buy Several books to do a job rather than one of the previous editions. Almost seems like there were to many marketing analysts in the think tank and focus groups. For instance. Magical items, I now have to own the PHB and DMG in order to get the resources i would need in one DMG.
    That in itself isn't so bad as every DM needs a PHB in order to understand character classes, skills, and the like to write a successful adventure ,it just hints at a nice milkjob in the making. My problem kicks in when i read the DMG looking for a structure i can work with and alternatively end up swimming through chapter after chapter of a longwinded speech telling me adventures are more fun if you describe the surroundings or if I don’t bore the players to death. And when it comes to actual resources that you can use they are few and far between. I love fantasy RPG and loved D&D because it gave me a good solid fantasy setting and the resources to make my own. If i have to create my own resources AND my own setting…then what the hell do i need the books for?

  28. Elvenblade says:

    You should check out Tome of Battle: the Book of Nine Swords. It has tons of great material for 3.5, introducing new martial classes and a huge number of cinematic attacks and stunts (think Matrix), while also bringing non-casting classes up to speed with casters.
    It’s also 4e in its infancy, and you can see a lot of what would become 4e being developed in there.
    Great stuff.

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