Sunday, November 18, 2012

Back in the saddle

Today I DM'd my third ever 4th edition D&D game. I have been very skeptical and critical of 4th edition in the past, but I admit that I only ran premade adventures whose quality was subpar, and my knowledge of the rules was sketchy. This time around I decided to do write an original adventure, do a bit of prep, and take advantage of what 4th edition does best: combat, easy encounter and monster creation, and more combat. It took me perhaps half an hour to an hour to grok how combat and non-combat encounters are created, and what is considered a balanced encounter in 4th edition. Another 10 minutes was spent figuring out how advancing monsters and stacking templates work. Then I was off to the races. As is typical for my games, I follow The Lazy Man's Guide to GMing. I had a loose plot in mind, a few names for the npcs, and a rough map and flowchart. Those took about 15 minutes to come up with. The bulk of the time was spent creating the solo boss, which was a breeze thanks to online NPC generators, the easy template and level advancement rules in 4e, and lack of need to stat out the equipment of the boss. That took about 30 minutes, most of which was consumed by Google searches and writing. Perhaps another 20-30 minutes was spent flipping through different monster manuals to populate the remainder of the adventure. So in total perhaps I spent two to two and a half hours on prep, and an hour of that was just learning new systems and locating where all the relevant rules are - something I won't need to do for next time. The session was very fun, and I think going with a James Bond/The Laundry Files super-spies meet techno-thrillers meet supernatural horror meet fantasy feel paid off, although it featured more combat encounters than I'm usually used to. I'm actually excited for more 4e now!


  1. I think 4e is great when it comes to creating a game, it's quite accessable. I just found that as you get into the higher levels, the game just isn't as fun. You trade one power for another basically like it and everyone is good at everything when it comes to skills. As well, I have a beef with the enemies having such ridiculous hit points that it often feels like you're spending half an hour just widdling something down by dice roll instead of imagining an epic battle taking place where one sound hit could do the trick. Still, it is a game of getting with friends and having fun, and that's the best part.

  2. Indeed. I think the complaint about high levels and whittling down hit points is right on the money. On the one hand, the one-shot "save or die" combat of high level 3rd edition was ridiculous, but 4th edition combat goes into the other extreme. Perhaps if instead of doing constant damage through at-will power spamming the fight relied on using environment and tricks and stunts... I think I'll experiment with that next!