Aug 14, 2008

A must have guide for new 4e players.

While he makes no attempt to cover up his dislike of the system, Ser Alexander offers a VERY deep insight and analysis of the essential core 4E mechanic. His review includes a walk through of the Keep on the Shadowfell adventure, and "fixes" for several areas that have proven problematic.

He has kindly compiled his series of articles in one place. Both haters and lovers willl find something useful here, so go to it!


Graham|ve4grm said...

My favourite part is how he stated "(3) I wasn't going to draw any conclusions until I actually had the rules in my hands.", yet that post is entirely about the conclusions he's drawing based solely on promotional material and who's designing it.

His personal "correct" answers for simplifying things, such as using the "attack an item" rules for the rust monster, are similarly hilarious. I don't know anyone who could tell me what those rules are without pulling out the PHB, let alone anyone who knows how many hit points their mithril shirt has, without 15+ minutes of rulebook digging. Hilarious.

Really, most of his dislikes of the system seem less like he doesn't like it, and more like he can't be bothered to realise that there are certain base assumptions to be made (his dissociated mechanics post, for instance).

Oh, wait, no, I found the best line of the entire thing:
"the legacy of balance instilled into the system by 30+ years of playtesting"


(2) You have far less ability to customize your character.

Yeah, we covered that earlier, didn't we? :-P

Nor is it any easier to create entirely new monsters or tweak existing monster stat blocks in 4th Edition.

It takes me 10 minutes to fully stat a monster, from scratch. I doubt he's even tried. I can change a monster's level in less than 1, and that's simple enough that I could probably even do it on the fly during a game. Altering an existing monster significantly (say, by adding a template) actually takes longer, around 15 minutes.

Honestly, much of the article seems to just be him ranting about it, and I'm having a hard time pulling any real interesting insights from it that aren't incredibly uninformed or opinion, though that opinion is presented as hard fact.

Alright, there's the warning that the 15-minute adventuring cycle is still present. I'll grant him that one, though losing your daily powers and nova-ing all your 3e spells are two vastly different scales, where one leaves you effectively a Commoner, while the other leaves you still at around 75-80% fighting strength.

Aside from that, I pretty much found nothing useful in that article. Sorry to disappoint.

Donny_the_Dm said...

It's all good, to each their own. BTW - Welcome back!

The parts I liked were the "re-tooling" of several of the encounters, complete with maps. The rooms with the statue traps were a nightmare for my group as written.

I agree that his tone was pretty derisive, but once you get past the snark, there are a few gems in there.

Graham|ve4grm said...

Unfortunately, it can be hard to get past the snark. It's the same reason I don't enjoy RPGPundit.

I haven't gone through his entire 7-part series on KotS yet. Perhaps that will be more interesting.

Donny_the_Dm said...

The keep section is actually what my amateur ass was trying to link to. His review is a bit too antagonistic for me, but the KotS walkthrough was a lifesaver.

Donny_the_Dm said...

BTW - Link fixed, it now points to the KotS remix.

Graham|ve4grm said...

Ah, okay then. That part is, indeed, much more useful.

The piles of treasure on the cave floor bothered me a bit, too, though not nearly as much as it seemed to bother him.

Unfortunately, I only played/ran KotS at our bigass 36-hour game day, so we didn't get to the statue traps you mentioned. As such, I'm not sure what room you're talking about, or how he fixed them. Care to clarify, or at least point out the room?

Donny_the_Dm said...

Hmmmm.....he took it out for some reason...

Stripes said...

I'm with you on the 15-min cycle.

The daily powers are maybe 30% to 50% better then the encounter powers, so if you kick out all your daily powers on the first fight of the day you are noticeably weaker on the second fight, but still not too bad. In fact id you blow the daily on the first fight and the action point on the second you may be pretty close to even. If you blow the AP and daily on the first fight, then the second fight you are a lot weaker.

You are still far far better off then a commoner, which a 3.5e wizard/sorcerer isn't. You are better then "half a fighter" which is roughly what a 3.5e cleric is after they nova.

Since I'm a player in keep on the shadowfell, I'm holding off reading his KotS comments.

(and I'm totally enjoying 4.0 -- even if the volume of errata has me a little concerned, it is great fun to play, and when my 3.5 campaign winds down I hope the players are more interested in 4.0 then 3.P!)

Donny_the_Dm said...

Welcome stripes! We are equally friendly (now) to both editions here. The KotS spoilers are definitely rife there, though it is mainly a remix, offering a redesign option to help with playability.

I just zipped over to your site, and will be spending some time "getting to know you" at least as much as one can through a session recap :)

3E and 4E are, quite simply different games. The design goals were different, the philosophy was different. However, chess and monopoly are different games too. I like them both as well.

That said, I like 3E for it's depth and complexity, and 4E for it's simplicity and ease of use. To each their own. As to the 15 minute adventuring day...I'll be posting on that in the near future. C'mon back sometime! You're welcome here.