Saturday, November 6, 2010

Help Us Fight This Guy

Tomorrow, Connie, Kimberly Kane and I will face a most fearsome foe. We will play D&D against...um, I mean with...several fellow D&D-list Hollywood types who invented things like Metallocalypse and The Guild and (-yes-) Robot Chicken.

Now, on account of this charity event being sponsored by a certain company who bought the rights to a double-iteration of a certain letter interrupted by an ampersand, this game will be Type 4 D&D (or Nalfeshnee as I like to call it). (The post-Essentials version.)

So anyway, we naturally want to wreck and to ruin and to hoard glory and loot like mad beasts set loose upon the virgin moors but basically everything I know about 4E comes from:

- listening to Return To Northmoor and
- hearing y'all complain about it.

So, post your Type 4 tips here.

And remember, this is for charity, so all proceeds from the video they're making will go to save tits from cancer or to save Scandinavian orphans from leprosy or dolphins from fishing nets or some shit...I don't know, actually, ask Satine. Anyway, point is this for a good cause so please no Edition-bitching in the comments.

P.S.

The characters will be pre-generated by the DMs so we don't need PC-building tips.

Humanrorschachtest--wow, 2nd comment and you already bitched.

45 comments:

  1. He playsss 4E now, my precious. One of us, one of ussss...

    :)

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  2. Seriously first thing you need to play fast and interesting game is to make your character as a party, not one by one. And then play them this way - help each other, try to find ways to make life easier for your party members. This is true with all games, but 4E is especially sensitive to this.

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  3. Here are the quickstart rules and some other downloads, including a demo of the 4e Character Builder program:

    http://www.wizards.com/dnd/TryDnD.aspx

    You can use the free demo CB to build characters up to level 3, including stuff from most of the rules supplements. It takes you through step-by-step, which should also make you familiar with most of the rules elements.

    When rolling up a character, make sure you have at least an 18 in your primary stat after racial bonuses to make sure you can hit with your attacks. Optimizing beyond that is possible, but not mandatory.

    Type IV explicitly condones "reskinning" rules elements to fit whatever theme you want to run with, so don't feel boxed in with the flavor of the choices listed. You could play a "dwarf" as a burly, strange elf if you wanted.

    The main difference in play is that all characters have fiddly-spell-like bits to use in combat. The rules for them are all self-contained in each power, so if you print out a character sheet with power cards (or have them provided to you) you shouldn't have to reference books very often. You can run everything else just the same as you would in any other version of D&D.

    Good luck and have fun!

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. @jonathan WoTC gave me the rules a long time ago. We need tips learned from actual play, not lessons

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  6. Oops, just saw the part at the bottom about you not having to gen your own PCs, so ignore that part of my advice. It might not hurt to still play with the Character Builder just so you can see how things work - you can preview a character sheet that will fill in everything that you'd need in play.

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  7. The main 4E combat mechanic is actually super simple once you get used to it. Your characters play more like they're in a video game. You have one go to attack that you'll do over and over again, a couple attacks and buffs that recharge every time you get into a new encounter, and one super attack you can only do once per day. Movement is super simplified on a grid. And skills are super simplified to a few abstracted archetypical feats.

    It's not as free for *looking* as you're used to... but it's still D&D, you can do anything you want.

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  8. Okay, in play. Monsters and PCs are designed to take about 4 hits from an equivalent level opponent, give or take a few based on using Encounter/Daily powers instead of At-Wills. Minion monsters just take a single hit regardless of damage and are obviously good to target with area powers.

    Don't be stingy with Encounter powers - use them at the first good opportunity. Daily powers can obviously be horded a bit, but since you'll likely be under a time limit, don't hold them back for too long either. Action Points are a good way to get a jump on a tough encounter and you'll get a new one every other encounter, so don't hold them back too much either.

    Don't feel constrained to only use the powers listed in your sheet - 4e is just as cool with PCs swinging from chandeliers or sliding under a table to get to the other side as any other edition.

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  9. @darren
    "It's not as free for *looking* as you're used to..."

    what's that mean?

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  10. It's a definite team game, so work together as much as possible. Gang up on foes, and look for places where your powers complement each other.

    A lot of the powers involve moving your opponents -- and sometimes your team-mates -- around the board, so make use of the terrain. Look out for pits, spikes, fire and all that stuff, as the game mechanics reward their use.

    Watch out for mooks -- what the game calls "minions" -- these guys hit just as hard as proper monsters, but only have 1hp. Take them out early, or they'll start chipping away at you. Mages and similar character types have lots of area effect and multiple-target powers which work well in these situations. Distract the boss monster with the character with the most health -- usually the fighter -- while you clear away the gnats.

    Powers come in three types: daily, encounter and at-will. The latter can be used repeatedly, while the others are pretty self-explanatory. Use the encounter powers as soon as you can, but you should save the daily powers for the finale.

    (I gather that the Essential iteration of the game has modified the way daily powers work a little, so the advice above may not apply any more; it's been a long time since I played the game.)

    That's all that springs to mind. The biggest thing to remember is that first point: the mechanics reward team play, so work together as much as possible. Look over everyone's character sheets to see if there's stuff there you can exploit for the benefit of the team.

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  11. One little tip I heard in one of my 4E games... You can never waste an encounter power. Also be sure, before using a power with blast or burst, that you are positioned appropriately.

    As always, keep your meat shields in front of the group, soft and squishy people in the back, and your rogues hidden. Holding your action will move your initiative to the point that you would act, but readying an action in case of something getting close enough will keep you where you are while letting you act later for the round.

    While AD&D, 2nd Ed. Third and 3.5 are more simplistic/mechanical in combat, 4E is supposed to be slightly more cinematic in feel. Try to work with what your group is doing to make attack combinations that can be as destructive as they are fun.

    Last but not least, remember your ranges and bonuses, leader classes can make or break an encounter.

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  12. Just roleplay, roll dice and have fun. I like 4e, but it can trick players into looking for the perfect power to use every turn rather than just playing and having fun. The powers are fun, but don't get hung up on them, whack the monsters and take their stuff.

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  13. I visited my local game store to play in a Type IV game and accidentally started running it because the DM didn't show up. We just played week three of the adventure module this week, and we're using pre-generated characters too. Here are some actual-play gleanings:

    It can take a long time to come around to your turn in combat, and a bad roll can mean "nothing happens" until your turn comes around again. Here's what we've done to keep things moving:

    * Each monster gets its own place in the initiative, rather than each group. Ask the DM to roll up monster initiatives before the game.
    * Our adventure is designed for one battle per session. We roll two initiatives for each PC as soon as we sit down, and make two initiative lists. When battle breaks out we pick one list randomly for initiative for that battle. For longer sessions, I might get six initiatives for each PC and use a d6 to pick one.
    * We have duplicate or near-duplicate minis for each character in the fray. We keep them lined up in initiative order, so that everyone can see whose turn is coming up next. This was a BIG help for keeping up the pace; since Type IV is all bout tactics, having a visual cue that your turn is coming can spur you to think about your action before it comes to you. As each player's turn passes, we move her mini to the end of the line.
    * Player tip: Get familiar with your character's powers before play. Type IV is a game of exceptions, so don't expect the DM to know how every power or ability works. It's impossible.

    I hope this helps! I'd be interested in your impressions after this goes down, and I'm always looking for ways to make the game run better and turn the fun up to eleven. I'll be watching this thread and your follow-up with interest.

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  14. The Penny Arcade Podcasts - http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pod/20080530

    This was my first introduction to 4E. It's a guy from Wizards basically teaching 4E to a bunch of people who'd never seen it before. Might help give you a feel for the differences.

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  15. Hi Zak, first time poster, long time lurker. Big fan of the blog and the show.

    When 4E first came out, one of our group who's a big D&D fan was keen to run it "All the special maneuvers mean you've got a reason to roam all over the battlemap in a fluid ebb-and-flow of battle rather than just sitting in one place and slogging.

    Well he talked us into playing it and we took his advice to heart. And got royally hammered. Every fight. The Rogues were ranging all over the field and usually wound up cut off from the rest of the group, the Fighters were being swamped and flanked all around, and every single fight saw the fighters brought to 0 hit points, even against minor minions. Eventually it resulted in the inevitable TPK, at the hands of a random gang of goblin bandits.

    When we came back I brought a Warlord PC to the table, a class that's all about co-ordinating and leading in combat. I rather un-democratically told the other players "fuck all that running around shit this time. You guys are gonna form a proper battle-line with me". Next fight we were facing some nasty undead and this time we formed into a close phalanx formation, moving together as a block. Powers with radius effects now overlapped, those of us with reach weapons could cover a broader area and for once the defenders were actually able to shield the big damage dealers from attack.

    We owned the field. I mean we were a slicing and dicing, death-dealing mother-lovin' engine of destruction. We cleared the battlemat easily and with not one casualty, the first time that had happened in a month or so of playing.

    The game broke up not long afterwards for various reasons, not least of which was the fact that I found 4E actively un-fun to play. I'm sure if we'd carried on we'd have come up against a monster or area-effect power designed to punish PCs in close formation, but the above story did bring home how important it was to co-ordinate actions between PCs. If you've got a power that gives a benefit to adjacent allies, try get as many friends adjacent to you as possible when you use it. Sometimes you might be able to use a power to set things up to give one of your teammates an advantage, by moving an opponent into a bad position, for example.

    Teamwork is key. It sounds obvious but I think it's hardcoded into the design of D&D 4E more than previous versions.

    Have fun.

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  16. @Urban Wild Cat

    You don't spend much time here, do you?

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  17. Keep track of all of your attack rolls, successful and unsuccessful; the idea being to figure out the AC, Fort, Reflex and Will for your opponents and thereby use whatever power is likely to hit them.

    Yeah...I'm not thrilled with this accounting/spreadsheeting methodology, but when I played 4E I found it to be a crucial tactic.

    Also, dead characters can't use powers.

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  18. Yeah, what Dr. Vesuvius said. For 4th Edition combats, coordination is super important. I only just recently checked out the Essentials boxset from Interlibrary Loan, but here's what I've gathered thus far:

    Fighters and Rogues are the more straightforward classes: almost all of their abilities can be used at any time and neither of them have to worry about the resource management of Daily powers. Fighters have different "Stances", which are basically just bonuses to either attack rolls or damage that you can switch between whenever you want. They can also boost the power of a hit by an extra die once per encounter.

    Almost all of the Rogue's attacks are movement-based. Some of them allow you to retreat automatically after an attack, some allow you close the distance even quicker. The Rogue also has the ability to move defensively and shift more squares without incurring opportunity attacks (yeah, I know, those...)

    Also, temporary hit points are another weird issue. They're kind of like hit point armor: they take a chunk of the actual damage away so it hits you less. The only way to gain back real hit points is by spending a Healing Surge, which you can do with for free outside of combat, by using the Cleric's Healing Word (which doesn't take up your entire turn, thankfully) or by using your Second Wind, which takes up your attack action for everyone except Dwarves, who can do it for a minor.

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  19. Practical lessons I've learned from 4e.

    Use your encounter powers. The only "bad" use of an encounter power is to kill a minion. Better to use it than have it at the end of the fight. I would use mine as soon as I figured out who "counted" in the first. Same thing for Action Points; treat Action Points like an encounter power that lets you act twice.

    People have said it, but yeah, teamwork. The different classes overlap; it can really make a difference.

    Speaking of minions-- if you've got a wizard or somebody with area attack powers? Wipe those dudes out. Since damage doesn't matter, use the one with the best chance of hitting.

    Minions aren't to be ignored. They go down if you land a blow, but if you don't pay attention to them, they WILL ruin your day. They have viable attack & damage ratings, viable ACs & defenses, but 1 hit point. Killing them is a job for your best "to-hit."

    Dnd 4e is all about roles. They do matter-- not as much as they are sold to matter, but yeah.

    Your Defender-- your Fighter/Paladin dude-- should get out there & immediately start drawing attacks. You want to get the big bad or the bigger bads tangled up with you.

    Your Leader-- your Cleric/Warlord dude-- you want to be flexible. You'll have a mix between "Do something & heal a dude" & "Do something & give a dude a free attack" probably. I think "Do something & heal a dude" generally works out better in the long run.

    Your Striker(s)-- your Rogue/Ranger-- is captain damage, but probably has some weird twists, too. Weird twists are great for getting into & out of tight spots. These guys are dripping with damage potential; I think they work great teamed up with another guy to bring down the heavy threats. Don't be shy about clearing out minions though.

    Your Controller-- Wizard, whatever-- should be making it hard for the monsters. Killing groups of minions, is a big thing. Keeping the big bad from attacking the Defender or from escaping the Strikers or from mauling the Leader. The Controller is like a mini-DM; you can make the neat "traps" on the battlefield.

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  20. Mordicai sounds pretty convincing.

    Anybody wanna argue with him?

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  21. Nope. Mordicai's got 4e down pretty solid. The only thing that's really that different in post-Essentials stuff is that Rogues aren't nearly as damage-intensive as their original counterpart, but Fighters with two-handed weapons are closer to that 'Captain Damage' role than your standard Defender.

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  22. Nope.
    4e is all about teamwork. You are an elite fighting squad, and you all have more and cooler abilities than anyone else. Monsters tend to have 1-4 attacks or other abilities that display what's interesting and cool about them, PCs have many more abilities than that.
    Normal encounters will have about as many opponents as PCs, although minions cound as about 1/4, Elites count as about 2, and Solos count as about 5. Solos are things like dragons and beholders that can do many things and face down a whole party on their own. Fear them.
    Concentrate your fire. If you have multiple strikers they should be attacking the same target, dead enemies don't get to attack back. Controllers and Defenders keep everyone else off their backs, and Leaders buff and heal everyone, and enable them to be even more cool.
    Just because you don't have a listed power for something doesn't mean you can't try it. Consider yourself to have an unlisted 'do something cool' power, and the DM (and the very flexible improvisational rules) will figure out what happens.
    4e is probably the best tactical squad-based wargame ever written, but that doesn't mean that that's all you can do with it.

    Mostly, remember that it's an RPG, which means that the people at the table are by a large margin the thing that makes it fun. The right table can play 'go fish' and make it a great roleplaying opportunity, while a bad table can't be salvaged by anything. Rules sets are there to enable the fun.

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  23. I'd add:

    Remember to 'Shift' away from opponents, as often as you can, to avoid provoking opportunity attacks.

    After you've used Second Wind, like Jamie Albrecht suggested, there is also 'Total Defense' (+2 to all defenses until start of next turn)to help you survive combat until you can be healed.

    (The 4E healing surge/potion mechanic was the most bizarre to me, coming to it as a 1E player, so make sure everybody understands healing potions don't allow you to gain hit points, but 'use' healing surges. You can have all the healing potions in world, but they won't do a thing for you if you don't have any surges...)

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  24. Yeah, healing surges are definitely bizarre on first glance, precisely for what biopunk says, but they also give the ability to heal to everyone. If everything's going to shit around you, you don't need to worry about whether or not the Cleric is within range or if you've got a potion or not. You just will yourself to keep fighting.

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  25. Since mordicai said much what I did -- only better -- I shan't argue. ;)

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  26. Combat can take a while if you don't decide what to do on your turn before it comes around, so try to sort through your moves and decide on something just before it's your go.

    Describe your character and powers however you want, and ignore the flavor text provided. The more cinematic you can be, the more fun you'll probably have. You're all big damn heroes. Or villains, or something.

    Even out of combat challenges are designed with teamwork in mind, with everyone usually having at least 1 skill they can contribute. These 'Skill Challenges' as written in the rule books usually suck, since it really boils down to just picking your best skill and hoping for a high number. A good DM will make this better.

    Unfortunately, uncreative 4e DMs can forgo improvisation easily since published adventures are usually laid out top to bottom with nothing left to interpretation. Hopefully the WotC DMs know what they're doing.

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  27. @Law
    there will not be WoTC DMs

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  28. Mordicai laid it out very effectively; I actually wish I could get the guy playing the Invoker (a Controller) in one of the games I'm a PC in to read that. He has all of these attacks that could hit 9 squares' worth of enemies, but ignores big blocks of minions to shoot one or two high-hp guys...most controllers aren't much for damage, so he's playing his build exactly backwards.

    If I could add a few things:

    1) Make sure that you each pick characters that fit the style you -like- to play. Don't let someone who likes ranged combat pick the Defender, because it's stressful and counterintuitive to play something who actually -has- to get hit by others. I don't know what kinds of characters you'll have access to, but I know that the Essentials Cavalier is a super simple defender...you just stand next to the enemies and they're inclined to strike you.

    2) Repeating "Teamwork" will further highlight how obsessed 4e is with that concept, but if I could elaborate on something that's a bit more obscure but truly useful: Sometimes it's for the best if a player uses their Standard action to do something to help another player. You can use Aid Another to boost someone's attack roll, and if they're about to unload with a powerful Encounter power thereafter it's usually a net gain over you just hitting a target with your sword. This is especially true for some of the new Defenders, who are going to help the party put a lot more damage on the board if they help a Striker type (Rogue, Warlock, etc.).

    You can also make Heal rolls (even without training) to give characters a chance to use their Second Wind and heal themselves; it takes an action for the character rolling, but no action for the character healing. Again, keeping the Defender on his feet this way is probably more important than using an at-will attack, even if you're playing the Striker.

    Finally, you can use Heal rolls to give characters saving throws (or boost a throw they're going to roll); if you've seen the rules you know that saving throws aren't attempts to dodge whole attacks and effects, like in 3.x, but rather an attempt to -end- things that're on you. The important thing about using Heal to grant a character a save is that they get to make the save immediately--on your turn--rather than having to spend their turn suffering the effect. This last point is something I'm only learning to do now, and I've faced a lot of resistance getting the other players in one game to try it. It does suck to give up your Standard action attack; but if the party's healer is stunned and can't act, getting him moving again is probably more valuable in case the shit really hits the fan later in the round and he needs to pull someone to their feet.

    3) Focus-fire. There's a reason Controllers have such wide-area attacks; they're suited to clearing out minions and knocking foes out of position, so the other characters can burn individual monsters down. It's fine to have a few targets that the party is working on at once, but once you have a target at half hp (bloodied) try to get him dead, and off the board. This builds off of one of Mordicai's points re: minions, but basically you want to reduce the number of attacks your party can be subjected to quickly, as resources dwindle quickly if your healer's trying to keep up three or four characters rather than just pouring health into the Defender.

    4) Finally, be sure to see how the specific character powers you end up with fit together. For instance, Mordicai is right that, for Leaders, healing is usually more valuable than granting attacks...but if you have a rogue in the party and can set him up with Sneak Attack, he gets to rolls those extra d6s on every attack he makes.

    I hope y'all have a lot of fun; I've been in DnD since 2e was new, but I actually love 4e the best of all the editions I've played.

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  29. 4E is definitely about the team. Mordecai and Seth did an excellent job describing the particulars.

    I've ran a 4E game off and on... I am definitely relieved to see Essentials, because the base game did have some serious issues... And it's good to see they're trying to bring back a bit of the old feel.

    For picking out pre-gens, since it's a one-off game for charity, it's a good opportunity to try out different roles. Kimberly, for example, would find a Slayer (fighter striker) to fit her play style the best, but perhaps trying something different would be interesting.

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  30. Man, uh, Mordecai has it down.

    Which of you/your players players is good at playing Magic? Those guys should get the complicated (i.e. Controller, Leader) characters, since they often have overlappable combo-y abilities. Teamwork, like everyone's mentioned, is super-important. If the DM allows it, confer the shit out of your powers to see what you can do together.

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  31. Mordecai hit the high points, but controllers are good for more than just eliminating large crowds of minions with one spell. Wizards tend to also have the most variety in their attacks, with more elemental types and targeting all four defenses than other classes that tend to focus on basic weapon damage to AC. Since AC tends to be the highest of the bunch, there are rare but survivable situations where the wizard finds himself the only one capable of hitting a powerful monster.
    Another thing to remember about wizards is lockdown. While strikers excel in raw damage, the wizard has several abilities that deny actions to enemies, and there are items that allow him to negatively influence their saves. Properly optimized, this can completely disable a single monster, which the party can then handle without a clock ticking in the background. Even if it's a one round thing, every bit helps.
    In summary, the wizard is still the most complex class in the game, depending on power/item selection.

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  32. Again, Mordicai has a lot of good advice.

    To boil down a couple of extra points and ram a few others home-

    1. Focus the party's attacks when fighting non-minions. Spreading out your party's attacks on several tough monsters is usually a good way to get your asses kicked. Kill one as fast as you can, then move on to the next. The advice above about not splitting the party too much on the battlefield also plays into this; if the baddies are ganging up on you, or keeping you from ganging up on them, you are losing.

    2. Leader/healer-type characters sometimes have powers which give a little bit of healing or some temporary hit points every time they hit. These are super-sweet. Generally they can do their main healing power (Healing Word for clerics, Inspiring Word for Warlords) twice a fight. Whoever's playing a healer should wait until someone's Bloodied (under half HP) to use that. Don't waste it on someone who's only a little hurt.

    3. As in 3E, moving past/away from bad guys generally provokes Opportunity Attacks. This is giving them free swings, and is bad. Anyone can Shift 1 square instead of moving their regular speed as a Move action, and this is usually a better option than provoking free swings. Most monsters DON'T get to make opportunity attacks from 2 or more squares away, even if they do have Reach. So if a baddie gets next to a ranged or spellcasting character, he should Shift away before attacking, and a frontliner should come rescue them. That said, casters aren't as squishy and easily killed in 4E, so that helps.

    4. Action points- check your characters at the start and see if you have a Leader-type (Warlords especially) who has a power which gives other people in the party a significant bonus to hit or damage for a round. If so, try to coordinate use of your action points with that/those powers. If Warlord Zack is giving everyone +5 to hit and damage for a round, that's a good round on which to be attacking more than once. ;)

    Non-combat advice:

    Skills are good, and the cut-down list of them compared to 3rd edition means that those skills have multiple uses. Everyone should check the book for what their skills do. Sometimes it's stuff that may surprise you- Arcana, for example, which was "just" a knowledge skill in 3.x, also includes Detect Magic and Identify, functionally.

    Generally speaking, the classes which only got a few Skill Points in 3.x get more skills in this edition, so everyone's generally going to have useful skills.

    Rituals! Ritual magic is where nearly all the non-combat spells went in 4E. Any casters who have Rituals should look up what they do. These include a lot of really good problem-solving and exploration spells, but they can be easy to overlook next to the flashy attack powers and spells.

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  33. To reinforce a couple of above points and make a few new ones-

    1. Focus the party's attacks when fighting non-minions. Spreading out your party's attacks on several tough monsters is usually a good way to get your asses kicked. Kill one as fast as you can, then move on to the next. The advice above about not splitting the party too much on the battlefield also plays into this; if the baddies are ganging up on you, or keeping you from ganging up on them, you are losing.

    2. Leader/healer-type characters sometimes have powers which give a little bit of healing or some temporary hit points every time they hit. These are super-sweet. Generally they can do their main healing power (Healing Word for clerics, Inspiring Word for Warlords) twice a fight. Whoever's playing a healer should wait until someone's Bloodied (under half HP) to use that. Don't waste it on someone who's only a little hurt.

    3. As in 3E, moving past/away from bad guys generally provokes Opportunity Attacks. This is giving them free swings, and is bad. Anyone can Shift 1 square instead of moving their regular speed as a Move action, and this is usually a better option than provoking free swings. Most monsters DON'T get to make opportunity attacks from 2 or more squares away, even if they do have Reach. So if a baddie gets next to a ranged or spellcasting character, he should Shift away before attacking, and a frontliner should come rescue them. That said, casters aren't as squishy and easily killed in 4E, so that helps.

    4. Action points- check your characters at the start and see if you have a Leader-type (Warlords especially) who has a power which gives other people in the party a significant bonus to hit or damage for a round. If so, try to coordinate use of your action points with that/those powers. If Warlord Zack is giving everyone +5 to hit and damage for a round, that's a good round on which to be attacking more than once. ;)

    5. As Nathanial said, casters often have spells which target enemies in their NADs (nerd way of saying Non-AC Defenses). NADs are generally weaker than AC, and sometimes you can logic out which one's likely to be a weak spot for a given bad guy. For example, Zombies have high Fortitude but poor Reflex defense. Sometimes non-casters have attacks like this, too. My last Rogue could attack Reflex, which was really handy against big & slow monsters, though not so hot against Yuan-Ti and Quicklings and that kind of shit.

    Non-combat advice:

    Skills are good, and the cut-down list of them compared to 3rd edition means that those skills have multiple uses. Everyone should check the book for what their skills do. Sometimes it's stuff that may surprise you- Arcana, for example, which was "just" a knowledge skill in 3.x, also includes Detect Magic and Identify, functionally.

    Generally speaking, the classes which only got a few Skill Points in 3.x get more skills in this edition, so everyone's generally going to have useful skills.

    Rituals! Ritual magic is where nearly all the non-combat spells went in 4E. Any casters who have Rituals should look up what they do. These include a lot of really good problem-solving and exploration spells, but they can be easy to overlook next to the flashy attack powers and spells.

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  34. Shit, double post. Pls delete the first one, thanks. I added a little bit in the second one, after I got an error on the first.

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  35. A few things on strategy.

    Pre-Gen characters are often TOTAL shit. We're talking things like characters being able to force cold vulnerability, and then nobody in the party (including him) having another cold attack. Or someone with proficiency with Rapiers coming equipped with a Shortsword. It seems to stem from some WotC obsession with not making "Min maxed" pregens, don't let it get you down.

    If you're fighting against only 1 or 2 monsters, never lead with your best stuff (action points, encounter/daily powers). A very large amount of elite/solo monsters get some kind of damage boost once they're bloodied (reduced to half HP or less). The newbie tendency is to nova and bloody them by round 2, and then have a painful slog for 4 more rounds as they nuke you with some special power that only comes on line when they're bloodied.

    People have more HP and attacks deal less (relative) damage, so combats are much closer to padded sumo than rocket launcher tag. This means denying actions can get REALLY important. It's usually smart to spend an action point if you think it'll kill the target and their turn is up before any allies.

    Dazed melee fighters have a weird "donut": they can attack targets adjacent to them, and charge targets 2+ squares away, but are completely unable to attack targets 1 square away.

    You are not your own ally.

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  36. Wow. Tell us about how this goes. This is ice cream truck-crash-on-the-freeway fascinating. I love the people involved but the game in question is...not...my...favorite. Still, I am intrigued.

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  37. Power cards. Really. They are emblematic of everything that is bad about the game, and they are absolutely the best friend of newbie players. For pregen characters they may/should be provided, but if not you should definitely be prepared make your own, possibly with some color to show at-will v. encounter v. daily v. utility powers. Unless the characters are really low level you'll have a lot of them of varying coolness, so you'll be relying on these little pieces of paper to tell you what your main powers are in combat. The modifiers will be weird - this power does weapon damage plus STR modifier, but that one does double weapon plus CHA - so any time in advance to calculate these and stick it onto the power card will save much grief and page flipping. (Unless Essentials has really simplified this, I gave up before they came out.) Some time playing with the Character Builder will let you see what sort of information you might need in play so you don't miss something you didn't know was important.

    Other game aids can be a huge help, like cards for conditions such as blinded or stunned, and colored hair bands to loop over minis to indicate marks and the bloodied condition that character's powers trigger off of. It can be a lot to keep track of, every little bit helps. Maybe your DM will have something similar, or be so amazingly awesome that he can track it all in his head. But I'd print off a few pages of play aids and bring a cheap pack of colored hair elastics.

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  38. One thing no one has mentioned is trying to use all of your actions each turn -- standard, move, and minor. Paladins especially miss out if they don't use their minor action to lay on hands or divine challenge.

    I would go through your character sheet beforehand and circle all the powers that are less than a standard action. You'll have a lot more to do on your turns and have more fun.

    Signed, Noumenon (something about your blog changed so that I can't sign in under my Google account -- no password box. I also have to open it in IE because Firefox doesn't show the buttons for "yes, I want to continue."

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  39. I think the clear overall message you should be getting from these posts is that it's a lot harder to play 4e if you're not a rules wonk. I notice than in I Hit It With My Axe the group isn't all that into the rules, and your default statement when asking for a hit roll or skill check is "Roll, you need a 12 or better..." That's possible because early ed characters are so simple that you can easily keep the batch of them in mind. You may want to run a practice session (and for 4e, when I say session I mean combat) today to see how that's going to work out. With all the special powers and effects and conditions and whatnot it really means every single player has to be pretty in tune with what exactly their character can do at any given time and what they need to roll to do it. And that cool innovative things may be covered by specific rules that make them now less possible than with DM fiat.

    And the other message from all the comments is "it's very tactical." Some players may not like that "doing their own thing" is sharply penalized, or choosing actions based on role-play purposes rather than their raw tactical potential (like say throwing your dead dog at someone). It is of course possible to just do it anyway, you just have to not be surprised when it doesn't turn out as well.

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  40. mxyzplk, I'm not sure it's rules heavy as such. It's quite light on actual rules, it's just that the powers are mostly based around exceptions to those rules.

    As Thomas Stewart says, power cards are a big help in keeping it all straight. If you've got good power cards, they tell you everything you need to know about how to do the attack, and what it does.

    As long as you've got a bit of time before the game to look over your powers, or if the first fight is a bit of a soft one, you can get up to speed quite quickly.

    It's not a game I ever want to play again, but it's certainly not the weight of the rules that put me off.

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  41. I have only 2 pieces of advice: 1 - read, and try to understand your powers. If power cards help, then use them.

    2. Have everyone read over the pg 42 rules on improvised actions. They could be used, by themselves, to play the game. If you get them, you can do any cool thing you want, and it will be effective.

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  42. The trade-off for 4E (as a 4E DM) seems to be less work for the DM, but the players have more things to keep in mind. They have a plethora of powers and abilities, which have all of their rules included.
    For the DM, though, I'd say keep it loose. 4E's best aspect is the lack of prep-time. You can deal monsters and traps on the fly, and I'd advise doing so!

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  43. Our D&D group recently switched to 4E- a couple of us are 1E veterans, the rest were 3.5E or completely new to the game. As the DM I was sceptical, but wanted to engage the players as a team.

    It has been a steep learning curve for the party, and there are still a few moments when I think they act like munchkins. Almost always, those moments are when they try to go it alone and stop thinking about teamwork.

    4E works really well for me as a DM. It encourages players to act like a team- and I had to relax a bit of my "ghost voices" policy to enable that. It's much easier to keep the group happy when they want to work together. The powers/exploits/et al. are iconic, simple to describe, and have become favourite moments of the group. Our paladin is particularly enthusiastic every time he announces a holy strike, complete with sound effects, gestures, and high-fives.

    This is what really makes the game work for me- it's easier to get excited about teamwork than in previous editions. Get excited about what the other players are doing, help each other out. Winners have synergy as a starting IRL feat.

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  44. I am totally fricking stealing "Nalfeshnee D&D".

    Problem is, then, what is 0E? Manes D&D?

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