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Author Topic: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e  (Read 22757 times)

Grakelin

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D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« on: December 23, 2010, 03:21:00 am »

I saw another thread where a brief debate came up between 4th Edition and 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I am interested in pursuing this debate, so I'm opening up this thread instead of hijacking some other poor dude's thread.

So, let's have a discussion. Please make sure you read everybody's post before responding to my original post. This has been a problem on the forum lately, which is understandable because of how fast we move. People aren't reading all the posts in a thread before replying, and are repeating the same points over and over as a result. Please don't be that guy.

So, 3rd and 4th Edition. I was on the bandwagon on hating 4th Edition when it first came out, myself. I got into PnP gaming with 3rd edition about ten years ago, though I took breaks from it because it was so wargamey. Instead, I played WoD for a while, and then Traveller and Mutants and Masterminds. I would always go back to 3rd Edition, though, because it was the best way to get Fantasy without resorting to GURPS (Sorry Aqizzar).

So, 4th Edition came out, and I was a bit miffed. No Bards? No Gnomes? And what's this everybody is saying about it being a WoW rip-off and lacking the roleplaying mechanics of 3.5? I decided to write it off and move along.

Later, I actually played it, and I was impressed.

Now, the biggest complain is how combat-heavy D&D 4.0 is, but, as I mentioned above, this is the problem I had with 3.5, as well. So I really had to rethink my viewpoint on this one. Why be upset with 4th Edition for improving one of its core components?

And yeah, I said 'improving'. Because 4th Edition Combat is more exciting than 3rd Edition Combat. For my Fighter, 3rd Edition Combat went like this:

"Okay, we're fighting on a bridge above a deep chasm. You're battling the Orc. You won initiative. What do you do?"

"I attack it. Rolling a d20. I got a 12."

"Miss. His turn. He attacks. He got a 17. He hits, you take 6 damage."

"Shit, this is going poorly. Maybe I can knock him off the bridge. How do I do that again?"

"Uhh, let me look through the rulebook... Okay, you need to grapple him and throw him off."

"Grapple? Seriously? We need to look up those rules?"

"Yeah."

"Forget it, I attack him. Roll a d20..."


In 4th Edition, it looks more like this:

"I attack with my reaping strike ability. I rolled a 12s."

"You missed."

"Okay, I shift back with my move action."

"Alright. He shifts forward after you and tries to strike. 17. A hit. You take 6 damage."

"Alright, I need to rework my strategy. I'll try knocking him off this bridge. I'll shift into that square next to him. Now I'm going to bullrush him off the bridge. I roll a 19."

"That beats his Fortitude. He gets a 12 on his saving throw,, though, so he is holding on to the edge of the bridge, teeth bared at you."



Take your pick as to which is more exciting. Note that I didn't use any 'special powers' in the 4th Edition example (except the one many fighters use as their 'basic attack'). Just stuff in the Combat Chapter.

As for roleplaying mechanics: There are no roleplaying mechanics in 3.5. Are you talking about skills? They still exist in 4.0, and they work better. There is even a system for gaining experience through non-combat encounters. Characters using their wits, instead of brute force. This is something we wouldn't have in 3.5 without Homebrewing.


Since I started with 4.0, I've transitioned into DMing, and we're having a great time. My PCs started at Level 1 and are now at Level 5. Just in the last session, I had them riding down a river filled with rapids and a waterfall on a lifeboat. All of them have written me backstories (Except for one guy, who has, ironically, mentioned a desire to stop playing because there isn't enough roleplaying on occasion). They're in a campaign fraught with political turmoil. In the past, they've had roleplay sessions with NPCs for upwards of an hour. Sometimes, they go to the tavern just to meet new people. The Combat is great, too. Last time, they fought a Gnome and his Half-Orc henchman on a series of scaffolds, which the PCs set on fire. The Dragonborn Paladin, de facto leader of the group, spent most of the encounter trying to rescue his lizard mount which had been kidnapped during the last session. It ended with the Gnome exploding a dam above their heads, and all of them fleeing from the rampaging crescents of water, and being forced into the frigid abyss of the underground caverns below.

This stuff couldn't happen in 3.5. I couldn't even play around with water, because the drowning rules were broken (once you started drowning, you couldn't stop). The allegations of ripping off WoW seem a bit uncalled for - they stem from the artwork, which is derived from the wildly successful Eberron setting, which predates WoW. I honestly think 4th Edition is a major upgrade from 3.5 in every way. 3.5 was severely unbalanced in terms of races and classes ("What the fuck, no, don't play a Bard," is a comment many of us heard during character creation. It might as well have been stamped in the Player's Handbook). 4th Edition solves these issues and provides for an exciting game of high adventure.

What do you guys think?
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Pillow_Killer

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2010, 03:28:28 am »

derp 4e sucks lol.
But seriously, they changed the nice game into a bloody CRPG framework on paper. "abilities", mana(And yes, I know mana was in 3.5 too, as a variant rule)
Couldnt happen in 3/3.5e? Im sorry, you've been playing with wrong people, and had a bad GM then(or been one, I guess)
Combat is what DM makes it, what players make it. System just provide ways to roll it. 4e took that away, and tried to replace it with shitty unoriginal abilities that took the flavour out of the combat
"I use my at-will reaping strike, reaping at targed and striking it"
*turn*
"I use my at-will reaping strike, reaping at targed and striking it"
*turn*
"I use my at-will reaping strike, reaping at targed and striking it"
...
In fact, your main arguments, what the shit does that has to do with the system? Backgrounds? roleplaying? OH I GUESS THEY ROLEPLAY BGECAUSE 4th ED!
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Cthulhu

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2010, 03:37:29 am »

Pretty much what's already been stated in this thread and the others.  4e improves the combat, and makes all the classes balanced and useful, as well as providing lots of help on setting up encounters (Both combat and non-combat) that are interesting and fun.  Roleplaying is entirely dependent on the group.  Most of the arguments I've seen against 4e seem to come from a sudden unwillingness to bend the rules.  Don't like Bloody Path?  Have the rogue make a basic melee against each target instead of having them attack themselves.  Don't like the way a power looks?  It's just fluff man, make it look like whatever you want.

Something odd:  The first time I read the 4e monster manual I was disappointed in the lack of fluff.  Monster Manual 3 supposedly fixed this and added more fluff.  I was still disappointed, because they had gotten rid of the useful tactical information and replaced it with fluff I realized I didn't really care about.

Addressing Pillow_Killer's rant:

Im sorry, you've been playing with wrong people, and had a bad GM then(or been one, I guess)

Unless the system is irreparably broken (I know adding that is a bad idea, because "lol 4e ireprably borken"), the quality of the system is trivial compared to the quality of the group.  Your statement that he's been playing with the wrong people applies to 4e too.

You know what my character does in the 3.5e game I play?

I hit the hobgoblin with my greataxe
I hit the hobgoblin with my greataxe
I activate my rage and then hit the hobgoblin captain with my greataxe

Don't take this as a complaint about the 3.5e game I play or anything, it's fun.  I'm just stating that all of your arguments go both ways and you're ignoring that fact to make your argument.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 03:42:42 am by Cthulhu »
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Sowelu

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2010, 03:44:03 am »

It's all about the people.  4e adds better wargamey tactical variation, at the cost of verisimilitude and depth.  It's shallower, but it does the shallow stuff really well.  If you're with a group that knows the rules very well, then the 3e stuff can go a lot like that...and yeah. "reaping strike, reaping strike, reaping strike" is just as boring as 3e's "great cleave, great cleave, great cleave".

I don't like the changes to the magic system; yes the old system threw balance out the window, but it was COOL.  4e's magic isn't cool, it's boring.  4e made fighters more interesting and mages less interesting.  Also, 4e has rules that spell out every tactical situation in simple terms...but that can hurt sometimes, because some things ARE better off house-ruled, on the spot, every time.

Did I mention that there's no such thing as a meaningful wound in 4e?  In 3rd Ed., if you were beat up, left in the woods, and didn't have access to a cleric or something, you were going to be hurting for quite a while.  In 4th Ed., you lay down for a relaxing eight-hour rest, then you wake up and HRRRRRRNNNNN I spend four healing surges over the course of twenty minutes and I'm back at max health.  Healing surges will forever and always feel like Dragonball Z, for me.

4e's magic item system feels wrong.  It's balanced, yes.  You can only use each magic item once per day, and you can only use a total of N magic items per day where N is never above, like, five.  It keeps players from abusing magic items.  But, dude, abusing magic items is the Goddamn point of D&D.  3rd Ed. was all about saying "I've still got that wand of fireballs I stole from that high level wizard?  Sweet!  I hide behind something and blast that dragon like ten times, BECAUSE I CAN, and he'll have to stop me.  Hmm, so these boots let me travel at double speed for two hours a day?  I'll keep three spare pairs in my backpack!".  Taking away magic item abuse is taking away the very heart and soul of D&D:  Being too clever for your own good, and making the GM angry.  If you can't use magic items to make yourself Batman, it isn't D&D.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 03:47:46 am by Sowelu »
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Cthulhu

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2010, 03:53:56 am »

Didn't we already have a conversation on how HP is an abstraction and every HP lost does not necessarily translate into a physical injury?

Outside of the last 15-20% of your health, most of your HP represents stamina, mental focus, and the like.  After a few hours of dodging, rolling with the blows, fighting off psychic assaults, and the like, you're going to be pretty battered, but after a good night's sleep you'll feel better.

Plus you've got your cleric, presumably he can cast some weak spells to help you out that don't actually expend any resources other than time.  It's all about how you translate the rules into the (virtual) reality.  Any game will suck if you start taking things at face value for the purpose of disliking the game.  For example, the coup de grace rules in 3.5e allow a sufficiently high level fighter to survive having his head smashed by a sledgehammer.
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LeoLeonardoIII

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2010, 07:08:34 am »

As for HP, it's always been an abstraction. How else can you explain a peasant recovering from a wound that is as deadly as possible (-9 HP rising to positive 6 HP) in two weeks of bed rest? I know modern medicine doesn't guarantee anything like that. It doesn't worry about injury to specific locations, organ damage, broken bones, blood loss, etc. That's because D&D's roots are in wargames, where each man had only a single "hit point", that is, he could only be alive or dead. A unit of men would be able to lose some men and retain some effectiveness - this would be the equivalent of hit points but loss of HP directly resulted in reduced combat ability for the unit. I believe they got the idea for HP for an individual from that concept plus a naval wargame where the ships had hull points that got damaged until it sank.
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Autarch

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2010, 07:24:14 am »

4e just forces a shift into a much more modern RPG kinda thing, which is something I really don't like.

Do you know why 4e sucks? It's far too different from 3.5e. That's the only reason it's terrible.
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Cthulhu

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2010, 07:26:39 am »

3.5e sucks because it's too different from 4e.
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LeoLeonardoIII

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2010, 07:28:07 am »

Well 3 was pretty different from 2. Not compatible at all. You could actually use monsters and magic items from the very first OD&D books in a 2E or 2.5E Player's Option game. Even the BECMI set was sort of compatible. I agree that 4E is even less compatible with 3E than 3E was with earlier editions. But when you hit a new edition I'm not sure compatibility should be a concern.

Of course that assumes you still support the earlier edition. If you abandon it and expect everyone to change over, it would be nice if it were compatible.
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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2010, 09:00:45 am »

I don't really think previous editions are that incompatible. You cannot directly lift the material from 2e/3e into 4e but I have quite successfully (and to my group's surprise when I told them later) ran my players through some old 2nd edition modules and a few 3rd.
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Grakelin

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2010, 12:59:29 pm »

On hit points: I think it's a good thing, and a conscious design choice. D&D is a game of high adventure. Our characters are heroes! There wasn't much heroic about our characters taking a crossbow bolt to the chest, going unconscious, and sitting out the fight. Instead, we get a whole bunch of moves to use, we get our action points, and there is usually at least one person with a heal power in the group, even if there is no Cleric (Warlords and Bards have heals, Paladin has a melee heal, anybody can use the multiclass feat to get a daily heal). I also agree with Leo and Cthulhu in that hit points are an abstraction. When I was first explained the concept of hit points in my first game of 3.0, I was told that each point lost was as painful as a cat jumping in the shower with you. I don't think this is necessarily true, especially since that means most people would be physically disfigured after one or two adventures.

On Pillow's Post: Ehhh, I'm not really sure on most of your points. There isn't any mana in 4th edition, unless it is hiding in a sourcebook I have missed. The power system (which I assume is what you mean when you refer to "abilities") has only replaced spellcasting and the basic attack. A fighter gets two basic attacks (three, if playing Human) to choose from, instead of 3.5's one. I think that's a lot more fun.

And combat is, arguably, the component of a pen and paper game which requires the most design. Especially in a Fantasy setting featuring a band of adventurers delving into dungeons. If we were going to just make it up as we went along, we could freeform.


On Magic Items: We've houseruled the levels on magic items out, as well as the number of them you can use per day. I think those rules were designed with Living Forgotten Realms in mind. So, yeah, there is a bit of fudging there. That said, while all the magic items listed in the PHB are daily powers, there is nothing preventing the DM from dropping in an encounter or at-will power when designing his own magic items (except for a sense of campaign preservation, in some cases). So if you want to fire your fireball wand ten times an encounter, you can do so at your DM's prerogative.

I'm a bit confused about the idea this game lacks versimilitude. Where is that seen?
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LeoLeonardoIII

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2010, 01:38:43 pm »

Yeah it's not like you need to be level 8 to drink milk.
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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2010, 01:43:37 pm »

Can I still post here, even if I'm a bitter 2.5ed D&D player who has watched the steady decline of the series since then with a mixture of amusement and total horror?

The argument that "Oh, you only have bad DMs, not bad game systems" isn't one I buy. Reason is this. Who buys a game series just to retcon 50% of the rules and right a small novel worth of house rules? No one. People want a system that by and large works for them, and can be modified. They don't want to have to gut 1/2 the book because it does soul-crushing things like "Drops generic treasure tokens that players then turn in for the exact gear they want."

When a game system is actively trying to prevent you from thinking or being creative...I'm not convinced I should ever go spend top dollar on it so I can proceed to tell players "we're not doing this. Or this. Or this. Or This. Or that."
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Cthulhu

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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2010, 01:46:48 pm »

"Drops generic treasure tokens that players then turn in for the exact gear they want."

What game does this?
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Re: D&D: 4e vs 3.5e
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2010, 02:02:03 pm »

That's how the most recent edition of 4th ed has been described to me. Players require specific gear in order to advance up their class scheme. They make wishlists for the gear they want. The DM's guide (or its equivalent) recommends giving them x pieces of treasure off their wishlist per adventure. You can see it sort of like Badges of Justice (or whatever they're called now) in WoW.
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Its kinda silly to complain that a friendly NPC isn't a well designed boss fight.
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