Between 1999-2005, if you asked the average Star Wars fan about the current state of Star Wars, they probably would have responded in a less than favorable way. Between the high amount of CGI, the poor romantic dialogue, and the everything about Jar Jar Binks, fans were not happy. Opinions about the Star Wars Prequel trilogy stayed that way, until about 2015, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered. Suddenly, there was a new thing to dislike, and the fan community became nostalgic for the Jedi Council, Podracing, and the everything about Obi-wan Kenobi.
Between 2008-2014, if you asked the average Dungeons & Dragons player about the current state of D&D, they probably would have responded in a less than favorable way. That is until the new One D&D Playtest packets came out. Now that people are thinking about ways they would want to improve D&D, a lot of people are coming up with ideas from Fourth Edition, whether intentionally or not. If you’re on Reddit, you’ll see it as a pattern more, where someone comes up with an idea, and then someone else points out that their idea was the rule in 4e.
This is because 4e was good, actually. Just like how the Prequels were around when I discovered Star Wars, 4e was the current system when I started playing D&D. Because of this, I didn’t have preconceived notions about what they *should* be like, I took them and enjoyed them as they were.
Why was 4e good, actually? Let’s talk about it.
4e Elements that Should Come Back
One of the best parts of 4e that got thrown out, was the Warlord Class. This was a purely martial class, that was also a support class. The goal of the Warlord wasn’t to do a ton of damage, but to help their allies do that damage. Sometimes that meant granting a bonus to initiative, extra attacks or movement, or healing.
Bloodied meant that either a PC, NPC, or monster was at half of their total hit points. Not only was this good in terms of the flow of combat, but it also allowed other abilities to activate. Some creatures, like the Gnoll, when bloodied gained a bonus to damage rolls, as part of their “Blood Fury” trait.
Monsters were designed to fill different roles in combat. Some were meant to attack at range (Artillery), or up close and personal (Brutes), or manipulate the battlefield (Controllers). Of course then there were also the Leaders, meant to have a group of minions, or a Solo monster, designed to be challenging on their own. This made it so the DM knew how to use different monsters for different kinds of fights.
Speaking of Minions, there was an entire type of monster that were meant to be killed in large swaths, with only 1HP each. MCDM has an upcoming Monster book that has minions, and monsters with rolls. #NotSponsored
Skill Challenges is when you have a series of events that work together, though none of them are particularly combat-oriented. My favorite example is a chase sequence. If you are chasing someone through town, you want to do more than just a contested Athletics/Acrobatics check, but it’s hard to use the 5e rules to make it interesting. Skill Challenges forces you to use multiple of your Skills in conjunction in creative ways, in order to accomplish the ultimate goal.
Power and Class Groupings are very similar to 4e. In this new playtest, the classes are split into Warrior, Mage, Priest, and Expert, while the magic sources are Arcane, Divine, and Primal. 4e also had class groups called Leader, Striker, Defender, and Controller, and power groups called Martial, Arcane, Divine, Primal, Psionic and Shadow. There is certainly some crossover, but 4e was a game all about tactics, so the class groups were about your job in combat, whereas 5e is more about story, and so the groups are about the types of adventurers you’ll see.
Lastly, 4e did the best to handle the Martial/Caster Divide, by giving Martial classes abilities that worked very similar to spells. This was considered one if it’s biggest flaws, as people didn’t want a “fighter to feel like a wizard,” but they really made a solid effort to make Martials and Casters feel like they are comparable throughout the levels. I hope that they are willing to revisit a lot of those ideas in the new playtests.
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