Comments on: Mordenkainen Speaks: What would the Great Gygax think about 4E, Pathfinder, and D&D Next? http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next A D&D 4e Blog Dedicated to Dungeonmasters & Players Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:54:57 -0400 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.4 hourly 1 By: Jeremy Mac Donald http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next/comment-page-1#comment-470765 Jeremy Mac Donald Fri, 29 Mar 2013 20:17:57 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=7800#comment-470765 Well I tend to be in the boat that 4E rewards planned encounters and does so significantly more then at least early editions though, for different reasons, maybe not more so then 3rd edition. In my experience while its possible to just say 'and that's a fight guys' in 4E this has a tendency to highlight 4Es weak points while hiding its strengths. One of the things 4E is really exceptional at is environmental effects. There can be a lot of moving parts to an encounter but its very difficult for the DM to design all of those moving parts on the fly. So a DM that sits down and plans out encounters can take time and effort to make sure that there are interesting and exciting elements to each encounter. Can work out what the rules are for the conveyer belts or the fact that massive blobs of flour dough are falling from the roof and might land on people or whatever the DM can think of to make this encounter interesting and exciting. On the other hand 4E is a game with, generally, long combats and this just gets more and more pronounced as they level up. Every encounter, complex or simple, requires the miniatures to be placed and then runs through a sequence that involves not just the execution of tons of unique powers but all sorts of interactions as players and monsters use interrupts and even free and opportunity interrupts to influence the combat. The end result is your going to spend a serious chunk of game night on any encounter whether its one that comes up because of the players seat of the pants actions or the DMs dark and stormy night assault on the inn (with minion allies on the players side and helpless victims that must be defended). The well thought out and planned encounter with many interesting features though has the potential to be that 'epic scene' the players will remember years later much more then the 'off the cuff' encounter and the complexity it adds only increases the length of the encounter a reasonably small amount compared to the total running time of any encounter. Bottom line - every encounter is going to be a long one - but you can really focus on what makes 4E combat shine by going for broke in the design of as many 4E combats as possible. Well I tend to be in the boat that 4E rewards planned encounters and does so significantly more then at least early editions though, for different reasons, maybe not more so then 3rd edition.

In my experience while its possible to just say ‘and that’s a fight guys’ in 4E this has a tendency to highlight 4Es weak points while hiding its strengths. One of the things 4E is really exceptional at is environmental effects. There can be a lot of moving parts to an encounter but its very difficult for the DM to design all of those moving parts on the fly. So a DM that sits down and plans out encounters can take time and effort to make sure that there are interesting and exciting elements to each encounter. Can work out what the rules are for the conveyer belts or the fact that massive blobs of flour dough are falling from the roof and might land on people or whatever the DM can think of to make this encounter interesting and exciting.

On the other hand 4E is a game with, generally, long combats and this just gets more and more pronounced as they level up. Every encounter, complex or simple, requires the miniatures to be placed and then runs through a sequence that involves not just the execution of tons of unique powers but all sorts of interactions as players and monsters use interrupts and even free and opportunity interrupts to influence the combat.

The end result is your going to spend a serious chunk of game night on any encounter whether its one that comes up because of the players seat of the pants actions or the DMs dark and stormy night assault on the inn (with minion allies on the players side and helpless victims that must be defended). The well thought out and planned encounter with many interesting features though has the potential to be that ‘epic scene’ the players will remember years later much more then the ‘off the cuff’ encounter and the complexity it adds only increases the length of the encounter a reasonably small amount compared to the total running time of any encounter.

Bottom line – every encounter is going to be a long one – but you can really focus on what makes 4E combat shine by going for broke in the design of as many 4E combats as possible.

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By: Editor-in-Chief http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next/comment-page-1#comment-238607 Editor-in-Chief Wed, 12 Dec 2012 23:20:07 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=7800#comment-238607 @Philo - In retrospect, I think I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to making up adventurers on the fly. I am forever tweaking monsters or building completely new ones, and can't seem to just pull a critter out of the Monster Manuals and just use it. When playing older editions of D&D, unless I was making a specific named NPC enemy for a combat, I rarely felt hung up about just cracking a monster manual and dropping critters into combats. I'll have to work at liberating myself from my own obsession with monster design... lol. @Philo – In retrospect, I think I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to making up adventurers on the fly. I am forever tweaking monsters or building completely new ones, and can’t seem to just pull a critter out of the Monster Manuals and just use it. When playing older editions of D&D, unless I was making a specific named NPC enemy for a combat, I rarely felt hung up about just cracking a monster manual and dropping critters into combats. I’ll have to work at liberating myself from my own obsession with monster design… lol.

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By: Philo Pharynx http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next/comment-page-1#comment-238441 Philo Pharynx Wed, 12 Dec 2012 22:26:49 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=7800#comment-238441 Odd, our group has never had a problem breaking out of AEDU. I've also found that I have an easier time making up adventures on the fly with 4e. In part because I can feel reasonably sure that an X level monster is going to be more equal to another X level monster than in other editions. The other point is that 4e monsters tend to only have a couple of odd things, if any. I don't have a spell list that I always forget to use. Odd, our group has never had a problem breaking out of AEDU. I’ve also found that I have an easier time making up adventures on the fly with 4e. In part because I can feel reasonably sure that an X level monster is going to be more equal to another X level monster than in other editions. The other point is that 4e monsters tend to only have a couple of odd things, if any. I don’t have a spell list that I always forget to use.

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By: Editor-in-Chief http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next/comment-page-1#comment-233752 Editor-in-Chief Tue, 11 Dec 2012 17:32:46 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=7800#comment-233752 @Erik - Thanks! And I'll have to try and encourage my players to try and break out of AEDU constraints more often. They did it all the time in previous editions of D&D, so I know they are capable of it - perhaps AEDU is just a bit too much of a honeypot for easy role-playing? @Erik – Thanks! And I’ll have to try and encourage my players to try and break out of AEDU constraints more often. They did it all the time in previous editions of D&D, so I know they are capable of it – perhaps AEDU is just a bit too much of a honeypot for easy role-playing?

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By: Baz Stevens http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next/comment-page-1#comment-233706 Baz Stevens Tue, 11 Dec 2012 16:56:13 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=7800#comment-233706 I disagree with a lot of your findings. Rather than clog up your comments, my rebuttal is here. http://rpgtreehouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/the-continuing-deification-of-gygax/ I disagree with a lot of your findings. Rather than clog up your comments, my rebuttal is here. http://rpgtreehouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/the-continuing-deification-of-gygax/

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By: Erik Scott de Bie http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/mordenkainen-speaks-what-would-gygax-think-about-4e-pathfinder-dnd-next/comment-page-1#comment-231256 Erik Scott de Bie Mon, 10 Dec 2012 23:47:49 +0000 http://www.neuroglyphgames.com/?p=7800#comment-231256 Excellent blog. By way of variance, I have found 4e D&D dramatically easier to run "on the fly" than previous iterations of the game, back to 2e (which was where the bulk of my early play experience comes from). If one were to break free of the "AEDU dictate everything you can do!" and start allowing PCs to improvise actions with skill checks (as Essentials notes as a direction), then it opens up a whole world of variety and improvisation. All my 4e games are almost entirely improvised on the spot, as that's just how I DM. When I go back and try to do that for 3.5 or Pathfinder, on the other hand, it becomes clunky and cumbersome. Cheers Excellent blog.

By way of variance, I have found 4e D&D dramatically easier to run “on the fly” than previous iterations of the game, back to 2e (which was where the bulk of my early play experience comes from). If one were to break free of the “AEDU dictate everything you can do!” and start allowing PCs to improvise actions with skill checks (as Essentials notes as a direction), then it opens up a whole world of variety and improvisation.

All my 4e games are almost entirely improvised on the spot, as that’s just how I DM. When I go back and try to do that for 3.5 or Pathfinder, on the other hand, it becomes clunky and cumbersome.

Cheers

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