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  #1  
Unread 12th of June, 2008, 00:53
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That new fangled edition of D&D's general discussion

Well it's out. It's been out since Friday, ideally that is when we would have locked the anticipation thread to keep things coherent but I didn't have the books back then and I forget.

So welcome to the all singing, all dancing thread for the discussion of the fourth edition of everybody's favourite RPG: Dungeons and Dragons. I figure that enough people will have small questions and want to give their own impressions as they lovingly caress the books (or possibly read them if they swing that way).

But what are those books I hear you ask?

Well, they are these:







These are the basic three which you need to run a game (With players only needing the information contained within the Player's Handbook). And I keep them under my desk (for now, soon I'll go home and take them with me). More will arrive with extra power sources/classes/magic items/airships/dragons/dungeons/races/etc. but that is the distant future. There's also a module out at the moment: Keep On The Shadowfell



Theoretically it's complete so that you can play without the other three books if you really just want to dive in. Which is nice.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 03:52
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“ My real disappointment consists of the lack of... description, in the Monster Manual. Besides a line or two or text, the rest is only stat blocks... No history on certain creatures or demons, no reason to their existence... ”
Picking up on a comment in the previous thread, I'd just like to say that I think this development is an improvement in the core books. I want my core books to be as slim and as rules heavy as possible. Backstory, descriptions, and all other forms of fluff should be relegated to Campaign setting specific resources as it can (and often does) change dramatically from setting to setting. I understand that there generally needs to be some fluff in the rulebooks to show how the rules and the fluff can be made to work together, but such examples should be kept to a minimum.

My books haven't arrived yet (I'll be getting them Friday) so I don't know how well 4e has struck the balance, but 3.x had too much fluff in the core rules for my liking.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 04:05
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I can see where you are coming from but 3e had the concept of a default setting, and so it attempted to provide sufficient flavor to support that default setting. Not a bad idea, as I'm sure there are some people who would be put off by having to buy or create a setting after having sunk a $60 investment in the core books.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 04:10
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I think this one actually attaches itself more firmly to a specific setting while providing much less detail. I'm not sure how that floats your boat, BP.

Still, to me, both this approach of an implied setting in 4e and the default setting for 3e are much better than the AD&D approach which really threw you straight in at the deep end (not even giving you a pantheon, just telling you that different deities should give access in differing amounts to different spheres of cleric spells).

So far I'm still in the chargen section of the PHB and my thoughts are these
1) I wish WotC would justify their text.
2) The pictures are pretty
3) It's very streamlined which I find quite refreshing. It's good to see that they were willing to question some very basic concepts that existed in 3e
4) Having one "controller" and three "strikers" in the PHB seems silly. They could have removed the warlock and put something else in quite easily.
4) Alignment is still there but it's a feeble and crippled beast that now seems much easier to ignore. It'll be gone whenever 5th edition rolls around.

My thumb remains pointing up.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 07:43
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I like 4E. It looks nice.

My big complaint is that they cost too much.

It feels very obvious that the PHB is incomplete. It as if we are being given half of a very large sandwich, and not necessarily the nice half. It's not actually "incomplete" - you can play a game of D&D just fine with it, obviously.
However, druids, barbarians, psions, various magic effects, lots of things appear to be coming, and from the way they're referred to when they do show up in the PHB, it's obvious that while those elements will be "optional" when released, they will still be very much "core," on an equal level of complexity and wholeness with such things as fighters or wizards.
When I think of the 3e PHB II, I think of an optional resource with a bunch of nifty things operating under unique rules.
When the 4E PHB II (and PHB III, and PHB IV) come out, they are likely going to be just like the "main" PHB, only without the combat rules and skills and the simple feats (+4 init and such) and the other really "basic" stuff, but still otherwise just a collection of classes, powers, feats and items that could effectively replace the PHB classes without being too odd.
There's even a psion in one of the pictures in the PHB.

I sense I'm not explaining myself very well.
It's like... the PHB II won't be a "sequel" to a stand-alone book, but instead merely another "volume," of an encyclopedia.
New stuff, same level of complexity and importance.
This is all well and good - they're not done with all that stuff, they want to split it into some more books down the road.

More than half of the DMG is simplified stuff from the 3.5 DMG II, and the book as a whole is oddly thin.
The MM devotes a lot of pages to permutations of certain "basic" monsters while leaving out a bunch of members of groups (the 4E DMG has two types of golems, taking up one page, while there are something like five pages of goblins), which are obviously going to show up in the MM II (and MM III, and MM IV, and so on), probably just sprinkled around.

All this is fine - I'm fine having a good handful of books that comprise the basic set, and it's nice to have them really well-integrated. The feeling of just more volumes of an encyclopedia gives everything a certain homogenous quality, which is really nice, compared to the older books, which tended to add whole new systems (Incarnum, Book of the Nine Swords, the trick and luck systems in Complete Scoundrel).

However, the problem is that the PHB costs $35.
For something that feels like a volume, incomplete, not a whole system but instead merely a small, initial part of it, that feels like a lot.
And the DMG, with little substance, also costs $35.
And the MM, which is the most obvious in being a volume, also costs $35.

And, in the past, the extraneous books, the Completes and the Incarnum and so on, costed more than the "core" books.
If this continues, the next PHB, or the "Martial Omnibus" costing even more, or even if they're the same, and if subscription to the D&DI service is assumed in the writing of these new books, I'm going to be... pretty miffed.

Yes, yes, they need to make money, but they apparently made money before, and this seems to be going from "a good price for a good product" to "you're going to buy it anyway, let's charge twice as much for half the stuff."


Again, my complaints are not on the "improvements."
The game is fine. 4E is great.

I'm just annoyed at the cost - not only are the books starting to cost more, it's becoming a lot less easy to play with just the "core" books, unless you're willing to sink a lot of time into writing your own content.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 12:01
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I pretty much agree with most of zachols points...

The fourth edition is a very much simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons, compared to older editions. I believe that Fourth Edition was created around the ideal of simplicity. As others said, less preparation time, less complication, more fun, hopefully. The system is pretty straightforward, but it loses all of the fun part about creating a unique individual, but going for more generic characters.

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition could make a great video game! That is the feeling I get, once having read through most of the books. Quite frankly, classes now, whatever you choose, are more focused on combat, and enounters.

“ Originally Posted by "PHB, page 260 Your DM might evocatively describe the terrain you pass over, but the ENCOUNTERS along the way are the focus of your adventures. ”

It's different, I can assure you that, though it's not bad. I like many elements of the new edition!

/Scythe

Last edited by Scythe; 12th of June, 2008 at 12:03.
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  #7  
Unread 12th of June, 2008, 21:52
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“ Originally Posted by Scythe # The fourth edition is a very much simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons, compared to older editions. ”
Compared to what older editions? 3E? Certainly. 2E? Only if you mean because THAC0 and some of the tables are gone. AD&D? Not really. AD&D was pretty simple.


“ Originally Posted by zachol Yes, yes, they need to make money, but they apparently made money before, and this seems to be going from "a good price for a good product" to "you're going to buy it anyway, let's charge twice as much for half the stuff." ”
You forget that everything costs more now. Gas costs have tripled since 3E. Milk has doubled. The core books I have say $29.95 on them. I don't think a $5 increase is all that bad. That said, I would much rather pay less than that.

Side note - There are only 40 less pages in the PHB. The MM and DMG, however, have 100 less pages. For that, I definitely see a pricing issue. The MM and DMG should be less cost than the PHB.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 23:35
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Or maybe just combine the MM and DMG, so you have a player book and a GM book.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 01:06
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I wish they would combine the MM and DMG, because currently the DMG is only for new DMs. There are only a few things that I would need the manual for (treasure charts, etc.) and those could easily be extracted. For those of us with previous DMing experience the book boils down to referencing a chart every so often, which could easily be in another book.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 01:13
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You have to have the DMG talk about DMing for new players. You'd be stupid to not do so.

The combination idea would be interesting. For me, I'd rather just have more monsters in the MM.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 03:12
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“ Originally Posted by Mercutio # Compared to what older editions? 3E? Certainly. 2E? Only if you mean because THAC0 and some of the tables are gone. AD&D? Not really. AD&D was pretty simple. ”
My bad, I meant compared to third edition. I don't have much experience with 2e (z0mg, THACO!) and especially none with the oldest editions of them all.

The MM has less pages compared to the PHB, because you only have stat blocks, and nifty images (not saying that they didn't copy paste older images, like say the Vampire)

Pricing is an issue, but everything costs more, it's called inflation.

/Scythe
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 06:19
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Hm. I was under the impression the 3E books cost $20.
I wonder where I got that number.

The inflation thing... I understand that, yes, but I still feel that the 4E PHB is a lot more part of a larger whole than the 3rd edition PHB was.
With 3rd edition, you had the PHB, and then you tacked things onto it.
With 4th edition, you have the PHB, and then you successively smoosh new books into a homogenous whole.
This is not a bad thing! I just wish that they were pricing things more as "parts of a larger whole" than "the base set, and then additional optional bits."

Of course, maybe not. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about (I don't), it's just that I have a pretty strong feeling this is what's going to happen, based off of the scattered references to future content in the PHB.
Well, really just one. But still.

Yargh.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 06:25
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I've heard of four non-specific Dnd4E products coming: Manual of the Planes, Tome of Treasures, Martial Power, and the Draconomicon 1.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 07:23
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“ Originally Posted by Scythe # My bad, I meant compared to third edition. ”
In that case, I don't see it in any way as a negative. 3E was simply too complex. If you've never DMed or had limited DM experience, you don't truly understand how ridiculously complex things get in 3E. All those nit-picky rules arguments were more than just strutting and rules knowledge - they were fundamental issues that arose almost entirely from a needless complexity.


“ With 3rd edition, you had the PHB, and then you tacked things onto it.
With 4th edition, you have the PHB, and then you successively smoosh new books into a homogenous whole.
”
I "think" that what they're doing for 4E was what they were attempting to do towards then end of 3E, with things like Tome of Battle, Spell Compendium, DMGII, etc.

James Wyatt, over at WorldsofDnD.com talked about design philosophy. EVERYTHING will be core, except for world specific fluff. The idea is that each PHB and everything in it will be considered core rules, as will everything and anything in Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Effectively, the question of core versus non-core will only apply to things that are not produced by Wizards. Everything Wizards puts out is core; everything else is not. You may or may not agree with that idea, and that is where the pricing argument really lays itself out.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 07:49
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What I meant, was that 3E was complex, and 4E is simple. I have much experience with rule crunching, debates about rule confusions, when talking about Dnd.

This new edition is like breath of fresh air
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 08:46
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My bad, I misread your post. I thought you were arguing that the complexity was a good thing.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 10:08
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That's what I was arguing. I liked the complexity. It was refreshingly different from all the CRPGs I was used to where everything was just hack, then slash or vice versa.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 11:05
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“ Originally Posted by Shoelip # That's what I was arguing. I liked the complexity. It was refreshingly different from all the CRPGs I was used to where everything was just hack, then slash or vice versa. ”
Spend much time as a DM? That's where the complexity became a bother. As a player, it wasn't really that hard unless you got into a tangled mess of Attacks of Opportunity or grappling (or both!). As a DM, it was a nightmare. The bookkeeping literally was ridiculous. I was learning Microsoft Access as part of my job, but I needed those database management skills just to keep track of my face to face campaign. I had an MDB file of my whole campaign and it was the only way to keep things straight. It took hours upon hours of my life to create the base file and then hours to update and plan. If I hadn't had Access, I don't think I could have kept track of everything.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 12:28
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Milk has doubled?

And as one of my home groups has ended our SCAP game (TPK...) I am content to say that I like Pathfinder (though it is a godawful name...) RPG and dislike all the complexity of 3.x. It should not take 2 hours to make a character worth playing. It should not take 4+ hours to make a fun adventure. I don't have that kind of time.

So, happy about 4e at least in that respect.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 19:13
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I don't spend much time as a DM. I think I must be very bad at it because when I try my players always seem to lose interest. Even if I'm having a great time and they aren't complaining. I agree that the complexity can be a pain but what's great about it is that it's only as complex as you let it be. You can scale it down if you really want to with relative ease. It's going to take allot more work to scale up 4E if I want something and it's not there. I've never had any problems with AoOs so I really do not understand what the big deal is at all. Grappling rules, I haven't used much, but the times I did I didn't find them very confusing at all. Just hard to memorize, but they're all on one page so that isn't really much of a problem. Maybe I just don't have enough experience but the experience I do have hasn't made me think that 4E's immense amount of 'streamlining' was necessary. Except to increase mass appeal.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 19:27
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I got the books for a decent price on ebay and only leafed through them so far, especially the Monster Manual (I like pretty pictures...).

My comment so far: Monster Manual has mostly very pretty pictures, is quite glossy overall, and has almost no details on the monsters beyond the stat blocks. I like the Cyclops, but I miss the Nymph and the Erinyes

I also suppose the Succubi defected at some point of the blood war and became devils. Which does make sense for their infiltration and temptation approach. Or maybe they are infiltrating the devils and will be demons again in the 5th edition Monster Manual...
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 21:21
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The first round of errata has turned up less than a week after the launch. It's a fairly substantial amount too, which is a bit of a shame. More thorough QA would have been welcome.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 21:40
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WotC? Do QA? That's crazy talk

You should look at the Anauroch adventure for FR. The sheer amount of editing errors in it made me alternatingly laugh and weep. I think they fired their QA people to save costs and now just give their books to random volunteers who drool at the prospect of a free book and maybe go through the effort of actually looking at one or two pages before submitting their corrections

Does anyone else find it amusing that they now call them "updates" instead of "errata"? There's nothing quite like Newspeak
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 22:30
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Not related to the gaming, but has anyone read a WotC novel published in the last 2 years or so? Awful. Editing errors everywhere. I'm not surprised they're so prevalent in the game books, but damn - I'd offer to edit for just a free copy of published books. Not just typos either - major issues like misplaced modifiers and dangling participles. Character names are wrong and tenses shift constantly. It's like reading high school English papers...

In agreeing with Eben here, I feel bad because otherwise I really like the 4E MM, but monster ecology were crazily awesome entries and I miss them. I may go back to find the old ones from previous editions and put them into a PDF that mirrors the MM. Maybe keep them small to print on index cards or something and then paperclip into my MM.
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Unread 13th of June, 2008, 23:58
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WotC novels were always bad. I think if you are going to read them you just have to go in with the notion that they are going to be bad and take what enjoyment you can get.

By the way, does anyone have any idea if there is / will be an SRD for 4e?
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