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 Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e

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Felorn Gloryaxe
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PostSubject: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed May 29, 2013 8:19 pm

What are the main difference between Original 4e (PHB 1-3, MM 1-3, and DMG 1, and 2), and the Essentials 4e line? I know a few of the big ones but I would like to know more. Here are what I know:

- Martial Classes have been changed to where they only use At-Wills, an encounter (if they're lucky), and utilities.

- Arcane classes (more specifically the Wizard) use Spellbooks much more like oldschool wizards did. Meaning they can prepare more than just utilities, and dailies.

- Monster Math was changed even more to make monster easier to kill but dish out more damage.

- Rituals were all but removed from the game in Essentials (Which I think was stupid).

- Magic Items where changed to where they now have rarity levels such as, common, uncommon, and rare.

- Classes where redesigned and simplified (predetermined options) to give them a more oldschool feel.


Other than that what else did Essentials change? I really can't recall much more than this.

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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu May 30, 2013 3:34 pm

One of the bigger changes I'm aware of is that essentials controllers who couldn't poach from a pre-essentials controller's daily attack spells tended to not have nearly as much control as the pre-essentials versions.

Cases in point... the hunter (no dailies and their spammable encounter was a single target with only weak control), the binder (so bad its striker-parent class was actually a better controller), the bladesinger (technically a wizard, but had no encounter controls and had to pick their dailies from the wizard's encounter spell list), and the protector (who could not take any druid dailies because they were replaced with uses of summon nature's ally).

Indeed, even the witch and the sh'iar's class features were so inferior that it was almost always better to simply play a mage and poach whatever good powers those two classes actually had.

And then there's the mage for whom ungodly powerful control options dropped like candy (including such gems as the auto-hit phantom foes and mass charm encounter spells) and could also poach from the best of the pre-essentials wizard options.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri May 31, 2013 12:13 am

Essentials also started classes having subclasses.

I am amazed how 'right' they got the Mage class, and then proceeded to pretty much fail on every post-essentials controller, save the Protector. And chris, the protector could actually take daily powers from the druid at the cost of a feat, you just have to leave one of your dailies as summon nature's ally.

I don't recall essentials actually tweaking monster math, simply editing monsters to follow the math from MM3.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri May 31, 2013 7:45 am

Huh, you're right about the protector druid. I guess I never looked past the short text and presumed it was like all the other essentials swap feats (i.e. you get only one swap).

I stand corrected... and I can now adjust my assessment of HotFeywild to 100% awesome (easily on par with the PHB 1&2 for me). Heck, I think I may have just found a new house rule for all those other essentials swap feats (i.e. let's you swap out all additional uses of power strike or whatever for parent class powers instead of just the one).

The general point stands though that if an essentials controller class can't poach from a pre-essentials controller class then its ability to control is going to be softer and/or more situational than the pre-essentials classes (with the possible exception of the seeker... which gets me wondering if the hunter might not be a bit better as a subclass of the seeker and it could poach from the seeker's encounter attack and utility powers instead of the ranger's).
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri May 31, 2013 8:00 pm

I really dislike the removal of rituals. Those may be one of my favorite parts of 4e.

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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:55 am

CHIA wrote:
I really dislike the removal of rituals. Those may be one of my favorite parts of 4e.

Same. I really loved those things. I wish they would keep the combat and out of combat spell separate in Next like with 4e.

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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:08 am

I didn't mind that the later products didn't have new rituals (by the time Essentials hit we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 of them), but what was irksome was that the post-essentials classes didn't get the free access to them the way pre-essentials classes did.

I understand the desire to streamline the game in Essentials itself, but I would have liked an option to replace the 'ritual replacement' powers (like the raise dead one that clerics and sentinels got at level Cool with the option of giving the class the ritual caster feat instead to be included at some point (admittedly for most of them it was all of a single feat choice, but I always found the wizard's free rituals to be an interesting way of giving the class the pre-4e versatility it was known for without unbalancing the combat side of things).

On a related note, I think if they had added a few free martial practices (or their equivelent)to the martial e-classes as they level up (particularly the knight and slayer... though I could also see a case for adding them to the fighter in general) would have gone a long way towards making them a LOT more interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:54 am

Chris24601 wrote:


On a related note, I think if they had added a few free martial practices (or their equivelent)to the martial e-classes as they level up (particularly the knight and slayer... though I could also see a case for adding them to the fighter in general) would have gone a long way towards making them a LOT more interesting.
Damn straight...But really why wouldnt Martial Practices be a core ability of a Warlord? - speach without words seems incredibly appropriate.

I have made up a martial practice or two which allow creation of Boons and Grand Master Trainings... much like the item creation ritual allows making magic items

Oath Binder, Gift Awakener and Master Trainer


Grand Master Training  - Bound via daily Regima (exercises/kata)
Legendary and Divine Boons - Bound by Oaths and Geasa.

The idea is instead of some wierd fade out on boons? they are now tied to a exercise or oath which allows them to lost, dropped and recovered.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:43 am

Another difference is that Essentials defenders use an aura rather than a mark.  
Then there are the expertise feats.  
As far as rituals go, it didn't feel so much like a removal; more like an advanced option that you had to go back into original 4e to get.

On the topic of Hunter... They get a bad rap.  They may be mechanically worse than other controller, but one of my favorite characters ever was my eladrin hunter I played during the Lost Crown of Neverwinter encounters season.  Wielding a vicious superior crossbow, with a buffed up int and arcana skill (he had the best arcana in the party), all his powers were flavored as harnessing the wind through his crossbow implement.  Basically a cross between William Tell and the Last Airbender.  Mobile, great against big target, smart, skilled.  I guess the bottom line is not the mechanics of it all, but how you play.  The role play over the roll play.  I don't mind hunter, they are just fine.  Also played with folks playing witches,  They were just fine.
I did play a bladesinger too.  Liked it at first, but character developed as kinda a prick - unseelie, mc rogue.  It wasn't that he didn't get along with the party or worked against them, just that his motivations were all wrong/twisted.  I think it was the first character of mine that I ever actively wanted to kill.  Now the whole class, and gnomes, are ruined for me.
Never seen a binder in play.
The mage pryromancer school is a like over the top.  Add an incendiary implement and damage with area attacks gets crazy.  And ignoring fire resistance all together...
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:20 am

Durriken wrote:
  Basically a cross between William Tell and the Last Airbender.  
TjD
If you think about it there seem to be many styles of archery stunts in myth and legend and pretty much only one is the bad ass enemy killed in one blow.
Most of the others could very much be attributed as controllers. They were things like the Barrage of arrows where an archer is described as being able to fire a dozen shots before the first hits the ground (and its more plausible than it seems - a modern archer has been able to multi-knock snap shot 3 arrows in 1.5 seconds.) and precision shots that cut ropes or take the apple from off a precious head or pierce another arrow or bouncing/bending the shots round corners.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:36 am

I haven't played with Essentials, but I have been going through them and doing a lot of cross comparing to see if I want to incorporate them into my games.  I am still going through the process, but as I am sitting right now, the answer is no.

Essentials did some stuff that I felt was needed and should have been in the core game from the beginning.  Much of the rest seems redundant and not necessary.  The things I liked were:

*Sub classes (builds with themes?) having different roles within a class (ex: defender and striker for the fighter).  I have always felt that the build you choose should determine your role, not your class.
*Spell book prep rules: PH1 said that you can prepare a number of Daily and Utility spells according to your level from your spell book, but gave no rules for how to do so (which I assumed meant the DM could do whatever he wanted, not that he wouldn't anyways. Smile)
*Box sets: I just talked my wife into getting the Monster Vault for Essentials.  I love all the monster tokens!!

As for what I have seen so far, the rest seemed a bit redundant or limiting.  The Thief is a rouge with a trickster build and some additional benefits that maximized his sneak attack and backstab abilities.  The fighter, although I thought the stances were interesting, could have used them to add variety to the fighters combat challenge features.  The knight seems like a warlord class (which I am not a 100% against, I always felt the warlord should have been a build of the fighter), nothing for magic rituals, the mage could have very easily been a wizard build, I could go on.

I guess, I would have preferred to have seen updated handbooks with the errata corrections made and a reorganizing to include things like themes, templates, ect instead of what we got with the Essential lines.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:04 pm

I haven't played with essentials either. Well, not the character classes anyway. My group is happy with the hardcovers. We're 4e 'grognards' LMAO.

I do use the Monster Vault and its cardboard disc minis, however. Turning them over when a creature is bloodied was an amazing idea. I want to buy a second set, just so I can sandwich magnets inside them; as I use a 24x36 magnetic dry erase board etched with a 1" grid as my battle area.

That's a product that was worth every penny (and then some), though. I just don't like the soft cover books...they don't stay open at the table w/o feeling like you're going to F* up the spine.

Ditto on the idea that Essentials SHOULD have been the first published 4e stuff. I'm sure even the guys at WotC are facepalming over that to this day.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:32 am

seti wrote:
I haven't played with essentials either. Well, not the character classes anyway. My group is happy with the hardcovers. We're 4e 'grognards' LMAO.

I do use the Monster Vault and its cardboard disc minis, however. Turning them over when a creature is bloodied was an amazing idea. I want to buy a second set, just so I can sandwich magnets inside them; as I use a 24x36 magnetic dry erase board etched with a 1" grid as my battle area.

That's a product that was worth every penny (and then some), though. I just don't like the soft cover books...they don't stay open at the table w/o feeling like you're going to F* up the spine.

Ditto on the idea that Essentials SHOULD have been the first published 4e stuff. I'm sure even the guys at WotC are facepalming over that to this day.
The first and last parts of this post seem conflicted.
I think if they had started with essentials? I probably would NOT have been interested... not saying my lack of interest would have been justified, just saying I am not sure I would have really seen the improvements and said ah, they have truly committed themselves to balance.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:39 pm

Garthanos wrote:
seti wrote:
I haven't played with essentials either. Well, not the character classes anyway. My group is happy with the hardcovers. We're 4e 'grognards' LMAO.

I do use the Monster Vault and its cardboard disc minis, however. Turning them over when a creature is bloodied was an amazing idea. I want to buy a second set, just so I can sandwich magnets inside them; as I use a 24x36 magnetic dry erase board etched with a 1" grid as my battle area.

That's a product that was worth every penny (and then some), though. I just don't like the soft cover books...they don't stay open at the table w/o feeling like you're going to F* up the spine.

Ditto on the idea that Essentials SHOULD have been the first published 4e stuff. I'm sure even the guys at WotC are facepalming over that to this day.
The first and last parts of this post seem conflicted.
I think if they had started with essentials?  I probably would NOT have been interested... not saying my lack of interest would have been justified, just saying I am not sure I would have really seen the improvements and said ah, they have truly committed themselves to balance.
I believe, from what I've read in the first two 'Heroes Of...' books, that the classes are simplified compared to the PHB 1-3 classes. It's usually better to start simple, and then go more complex. So...I think it would have made more sense to publish essentials first. Also, the soft covers are less of an investment...thus being better for people who want to test the waters of D&D rather than diving right in with a bigger cash commitment. Had I waited on 4e, I would have bought essentials books first. but, coming off of 3.5 and being excited about 4e from the beginning, I bought the 3 core books on release.

it seems that simplifying the fighter for essentials was a reaction to the dislike of a fighter having OPTIONS every round...A dislike I cannot fathom. Never in my life have I said to myself "you know what this needs? LESS options! I HATE having to think before I act."
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:34 pm

seti wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
seti wrote:
I haven't played with essentials either. Well, not the character classes anyway. My group is happy with the hardcovers. We're 4e 'grognards' LMAO.

I do use the Monster Vault and its cardboard disc minis, however. Turning them over when a creature is bloodied was an amazing idea. I want to buy a second set, just so I can sandwich magnets inside them; as I use a 24x36 magnetic dry erase board etched with a 1" grid as my battle area.

That's a product that was worth every penny (and then some), though. I just don't like the soft cover books...they don't stay open at the table w/o feeling like you're going to F* up the spine.

Ditto on the idea that Essentials SHOULD have been the first published 4e stuff. I'm sure even the guys at WotC are facepalming over that to this day.
The first and last parts of this post seem conflicted.
I think if they had started with essentials?  I probably would NOT have been interested... not saying my lack of interest would have been justified, just saying I am not sure I would have really seen the improvements and said ah, they have truly committed themselves to balance.
I believe, from what I've read in the first two 'Heroes Of...' books, that the classes are simplified compared to the PHB 1-3 classes.  
Mages are actually slightly more complex or at least no less complex martial got to be the "simple class" cause obviously those who like martial types are "simple" and need that more... it was a bigoted Mad simplification Smile 

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:21 pm


  • Subclasses (which are currently one of the highlights of D&D Next) do fix one of the key problems of pre-Essentials, which is forward- and backward-compatibility between classes, at least to a limited degree. Fighter subclasses started off with just Power Strike, yes, but they do get a feat that lets them trade out one use of Power Strike for one pre-Essentials Fighter power.
  • One of my favorite aspects of Essentials would be the Expertise feats, but not because they fixed the system's math; rather, because in addition to the normal "math fix" of Weapon Expertise, they granted a level of customization that made you feel like you're an actual expert in a given weapon style by being able to gain benefits other than the necessary +1/tier to-hit.
  • Something that was done only at first level with some classes -- being able to select class features -- was granted to some classes at higher levels.  Now if only those class features granted even daily level limited power... and if only they actually bothered to make customization a feature in all classes as opposed to the "we think simple equals no-brainer so we'll heavily limit your customization options so you can have fun roleplaying" found in the Vampire (and unsurprisingly, a lot of D&D Next design decisions).
  • Another of my favorite features in Essentials is how defender's aura reduced the tracking needed for the marking mechanic, while maintaining its efficacy.
  • Stances were an excellent way to modify basic attacks; in fact, I may consider houseruling 13th Age's flexible attacks into stances, should anyone on my table actually dislike them.


Personally I don't find the Bladesinger problematic as long as I ignore its "role", as it runs more like a striker/defender with a dash of control and should've been labeled as "striker" instead (sure it had controller-esque at-wills, and I've always thought the Bladesinger was what the Assault/Ensnaring Swordmages should've been, but its biggest "boomstick" involved striker-style damage rather than actual encounter-defining control). Vampires were mechanically... okay... as a striker class, its biggest shortcoming was the lack of features and was better off a theme or a feat tree than an actual class IMHO.

What really felt irksome were the Binder (even the Runepriest seemed like a better class in both flavor and mechanics, even with the Binder's backwards compatibility with the Warlock), the lack of dailies for non-casters (because the way Essentials was designed resulted in more powerful, yet lackluster basic attack spamming classes), and the apparent disconnect between written mechanics and actual gameplay.

This is more on personal opinion based on my experiences with Essentials, and may not be factually true for everyone. I like Essentials overall, but if I had to choose between the first trilogy (PHB, MM, DMG) and the entire Essentials line, I'd pick the former over the latter, with or without all the errata done to them.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:16 am

chaosfang wrote:

- Subclasses (which are currently one of the highlights of D&D Next) do fix one of the key problems of pre-Essentials, which is forward- and backward-compatibility between classes, at least to a limited degree. Fighter subclasses started off with just Power Strike, yes, but they do get a feat that lets them trade out one use of Power Strike for one pre-Essentials Fighter power.
Have to call that innadequate.. compared to what was lost with regards to themes and hybriding. I see them as just bad with regards to compatiblitiy. i dont mind the premise for purposes of distinct roles within a class.
chaosfang wrote:

- One of my favorite aspects of Essentials would be the Expertise feats, but not because they fixed the system's math; rather, because in addition to the normal "math fix" of Weapon Expertise, they granted a level of customization that made you feel like you're an actual expert in a given weapon style by being able to gain benefits other than the necessary +1/tier to-hit.
- I don't mind those customization elements but I do mind OBLIGATORY degree of potency. (which for many folk is basically the opposite of opening up options its removing them.)
chaosfang wrote:

Something that was done only at first level with some classes -- being able to select class features --
To me the key word is SELECT... and in that case every FEAT with a Class name associated is a Class feature selected at various levels.

I think we are just going to disagree for the most part on this one.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.


Last edited by Garthanos on Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:49 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : fixing formatting)
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:49 pm

Garthanos wrote:
- I don't mind those customization elements but I do mind OBLIGATORY degree of potency. (which for many folk is basically the opposite of opening up options its removing them.)
Agreed. Even if they removed the mandatory bonus to-hit completely from all Expertise feats I would still enjoy them (in fact I'd probably enjoy them even more), but it's really annoying that the solution they gave to the "inaccuracy" problem wasn't a +1/tier bonus to hit, but rather a mandatory feat fix.
Garthanos wrote:
To me the key word is SELECT... and in that case every FEAT with a Class name associated is a Class feature selected at various levels.

I think we are just going to disagree for the most part on this one.
I disagree on the feat comparison, because class-associated feats simply require you to be considered a member of the class, whereas selectable class features -- be they done at level 1 or at higher levels -- can never be poached without a specific game element that allows you to do so, even to a limited degree (i.e. hybrids and paragon multiclassing). If we were to go down that rabbit hole, then every power and every class feature that can be acquired via feat (like Sneak Attack) might as well be considered as feats, and you might as well consider the entire system to be "a collection of feats organized into class features, powers and everything else that doesn't fall under the first two groups".

I simply stated what the differences between Essentials and pre-Essentials were, regardless if even I agreed to the design decision changes or not.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:38 pm

chaosfang wrote:
and you might as well consider the entire system to be "a collection of feats organized into class features, powers and everything else that doesn't fall under the first two groups".
Hmmm It may be a rabbit hole but unless there are useful distinctions made... (such as) is the ability is common to all members of the class? the distinctions disappear.(not sure aquisition buckets are good enough to me).

From a player standpoint I didn't like class features gained later in levels it says to me my character isnt "really" an X until he gets that feature. At least that was what I considered class feature to mean.

I really don't see the difference in a class feature.. selectable at later levels of experience in a class as distinct from a feat restricted to a class selectable at later levels.

A power might be better called a feat and made distinct from a feature if one is defined as an active - action and the other just a modification or adjustment. (I didn't like the use of the word Feat when I first read of it in 3e either because they werent always like powers or stunts).

_________________
Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:31 pm

Garthanos wrote:
chaosfang wrote:
and you might as well consider the entire system to be "a collection of feats organized into class features, powers and everything else that doesn't fall under the first two groups".
Hmmm It may be a rabbit hole but unless there are useful distinctions made... (such as) is the ability is common to all members of the class? the distinctions disappear.(not sure aquisition buckets are good enough to me).
Given that only Slayers or Knights get their appropriate class features at given levels in a way that makes it impossible for even multiclass characters to acquire them (some features are so subclass-specific that even hybriding won't allow you to acquire them), I'd say that they're still class-specific, and they help distinguish those (sub)classes from other classes, so they can be very much distinguished from powers and feats, as normal.
Garthanos wrote:
From a player standpoint I didn't like class features gained later in levels it says to me my character isnt "really" an X until he gets that feature. At least that was what I considered class feature to mean.
Which is exactly how powers *and* every edition of D&D had worked:
  • spellcasters had "gain more class features" in later levels in the form of "gain higher level spell slots"
  • fighters had "gain extra feats" as a customizable class feature, hence the heralding of it as a feature rather than a flaw
  • most other classes -- from the Ranger to the Monk to the Barbarian -- acquired class features at higher levels
  • D&D 4E pre-Essentials had this in the form of powers: you start off with 4 powers, but by level 26 you would have 14 powers including those granted by Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies (which, by the way, granted the prestige class equivalent of class features, so in a way they also granted customizable, higher-level class features because even though the packaging was different, you're still choosing features & powers by choosing which paragon path &/or epic destiny you'd be taking)
Another problem is that if you frontload a class with all of its features, how can you represent progression without ending up with a boatload of "dead levels"?
Garthanos wrote:
I really don't see the difference in a class feature.. selectable at later levels of experience in a class as distinct from a feat restricted to a class selectable at later levels.

A power might be better called a feat and made distinct from a feature if one is defined as an active - action and the other just a modification or adjustment. (I didn't like the use of the word Feat when I first read of it in 3e either because they werent always like powers or stunts).
Personally I have no problem with (selectable) class features at higher levels of play, because unless I'm playing in a system where classes are so heavily watered down that they're virtually non-existent (which is often the case in classless systems, and to a certain degree D&D 3E & derivatives), I'm bound to get those features anyway since I'm a member of the said class.

So I suppose what you're really looking for is a distinction between class features, powers and feats that allow them to be in the same room without people confusing one with the other, am I right? And I think one of the things you really want to see in a class-based system is that you don't have to wait for level X before you really "feel" like you're playing the given class, is this correct?

If so, we'll first need to identify what is a power, what is a feat, and what is a class feature. Then we need to know what makes a class look & feel like the said class, and if they're meant to acquire more class features (or powers) at higher levels, how would you justify the feature (or power) acquisition, and write the class in such a way that the additional class features enhance the existing image, rather than become a prerequisite for being that class, so instead of "I need to be level X to play as this class", it becomes "I play as this class at level 1, but at level X I get a bunch of bonus features"... because as far as I can tell, one of the biggest problems of the pre-4E Fighter in particular was that he had no real defining features past level 1, and it was often suboptimal in 3.xE to get him past level 2 (or level 4 if you wanted certain Fighter-exclusive feats).

And so far, the distinctions between class features, powers and feats seem to be the following:

  • Class Features. Cannot be poached in unaltered form at all (with exceptions, see Vampire), and is often granted at a weaker level via paragon multiclassing, hybriding, or in some cases regular multiclassing (see Sneak Attack). May be an active ability (see Combat Challenge) or a passive ability (see Combat Superiority), but always grants a relatively unique bonus to the character. Originally this was set in stone and couldn't be altered, but even prior to D&D Essentials (starting with the PHB 1 Wizard) this was immediately removed as an identifying feature of class features (especially when features like Combat Agility and Tome of Readiness later came out).
  • Powers. May be poached in unaltered form, but only through specific game elements, such as feats, themes, or skills (in the case of skill powers). Always active, regardless if they are designed to be activated on a pro-active basis (such as attacks), on a triggered basis (such as immediate reaction powers), or on a battle-long basis (such as stances). NOTE: Rituals and Martial Practices are out-of-battle variants of powers.
  • Feats. May be poached in unaltered form as long as you have the prerequisites (such as being a member of a given class regardless if you actually have a level in that class or not, or having a specific power type, or being of a specific level or higher). While feats are typically passive abilities that at best allows you to gain powers (see Expertise feats, feats that enhance class features, etc.), there may be certain exceptions, most notably in Paragon Multiclassing feats, as well as feats that enable you to perform certain things (such as Power Attack, or Heavy Blade Mastery).
I'd say class features straddle the line between powers and feats, but can't be acquired through any means other than taking levels in the class associated with said class features, regardless if that's 1 level or 10 levels of the class in question.

The only problem left: making the class "feel" like the class in question from day 1, without necessarily frontloading the class so that progression would feel "dead" due to the lack of any new features. So far, only powers got to achieve this, but does it have to be JUST powers that are able to achieve this?
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:33 pm

chaosfang wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
chaosfang wrote:
and you might as well consider the entire system to be "a collection of feats organized into class features, powers and everything else that doesn't fall under the first two groups".
Hmmm It may be a rabbit hole but unless there are useful distinctions made... (such as) is the ability is common to all members of the class? the distinctions disappear.(not sure aquisition buckets are good enough to me).
Given that only Slayers or Knights get their appropriate class features at given levels in a way that makes it impossible for even multiclass characters to acquire them (some features are so subclass-specific that even hybriding won't allow you to acquire them), I'd say that they're still class-specific, and they help distinguish those (sub)classes from other classes, so they can be very much distinguished from powers and feats, as normal.
Garthanos wrote:
From a player standpoint I didn't like class features gained later in levels it says to me my character isnt "really" an X until he gets that feature. At least that was what I considered class feature to mean.
Which is exactly how powers *and* every edition of D&D had worked:

  • spellcasters had "gain more class features" in later levels in the form of "gain higher level spell slots"
  • fighters had "gain extra feats" as a customizable class feature, hence the heralding of it as a feature rather than a flaw
  • most other classes -- from the Ranger to the Monk to the Barbarian -- acquired class features at higher levels
  • D&D 4E pre-Essentials had this in the form of powers: you start off with 4 powers, but by level 26 you would have 14 powers including those granted by Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies (which, by the way, granted the prestige class equivalent of class features, so in a way they also granted customizable, higher-level class features because even though the packaging was different, you're still choosing features & powers by choosing which paragon path &/or epic destiny you'd be taking)
Another problem is that if you frontload a class with all of its features, how can you represent progression without ending up with a boatload of "dead levels"?
Garthanos wrote:
I really don't see the difference in a class feature.. selectable at later levels of experience in a class as distinct from a feat restricted to a class selectable at later levels.

A power might be better called a feat and made distinct from a feature if one is defined as an active - action and the other just a modification or adjustment. (I didn't like the use of the word Feat when I first read of it in 3e either because they werent always like powers or stunts).
Personally I have no problem with (selectable) class features at higher levels of play, because unless I'm playing in a system where classes are so heavily watered down that they're virtually non-existent (which is often the case in classless systems, and to a certain degree D&D 3E & derivatives), I'm bound to get those features anyway since I'm a member of the said class.

So I suppose what you're really looking for is a distinction between class features, powers and feats that allow them to be in the same room without people confusing one with the other, am I right? And I think one of the things you really want to see in a class-based system is that you don't have to wait for level X before you really "feel" like you're playing the given class, is this correct?

If so, we'll first need to identify what is a power, what is a feat, and what is a class feature. Then we need to know what makes a class look & feel like the said class, and if they're meant to acquire more class features (or powers) at higher levels, how would you justify the feature (or power) acquisition, and write the class in such a way that the additional class features enhance the existing image, rather than become a prerequisite for being that class, so instead of "I need to be level X to play as this class", it becomes "I play as this class at level 1, but at level X I get a bunch of bonus features"... because as far as I can tell, one of the biggest problems of the pre-4E Fighter in particular was that he had no real defining features past level 1, and it was often suboptimal in 3.xE to get him past level 2 (or level 4 if you wanted certain Fighter-exclusive feats).

And so far, the distinctions between class features, powers and feats seem to be the following:

  • Class Features. Cannot be poached in unaltered form at all (with exceptions, see Vampire), and is often granted at a weaker level via paragon multiclassing, hybriding, or in some cases regular multiclassing (see Sneak Attack). May be an active ability (see Combat Challenge) or a passive ability (see Combat Superiority), but always grants a relatively unique bonus to the character. Originally this was set in stone and couldn't be altered, but even prior to D&D Essentials (starting with the PHB 1 Wizard) this was immediately removed as an identifying feature of class features (especially when features like Combat Agility and Tome of Readiness later came out).
  • Powers. May be poached in unaltered form, but only through specific game elements, such as feats, themes, or skills (in the case of skill powers). Always active, regardless if they are designed to be activated on a pro-active basis (such as attacks), on a triggered basis (such as immediate reaction powers), or on a battle-long basis (such as stances). NOTE: Rituals and Martial Practices are out-of-battle variants of powers.
  • Feats. May be poached in unaltered form as long as you have the prerequisites (such as being a member of a given class regardless if you actually have a level in that class or not, or having a specific power type, or being of a specific level or higher). While feats are typically passive abilities that at best allows you to gain powers (see Expertise feats, feats that enhance class features, etc.), there may be certain exceptions, most notably in Paragon Multiclassing feats, as well as feats that enable you to perform certain things (such as Power Attack, or Heavy Blade Mastery).
I'd say class features straddle the line between powers and feats, but can't be acquired through any means other than taking levels in the class associated with said class features, regardless if that's 1 level or 10 levels of the class in question.

The only problem left: making the class "feel" like the class in question from day 1, without necessarily frontloading the class so that progression would feel "dead" due to the lack of any new features. So far, only powers got to achieve this, but does it have to be JUST powers that are able to achieve this?
Well you are specifying selectable class features I dont mind those as much (I actually dislike the wired down class features where a single selection at the beginning defines class features you acquire throughout the career based on that one singular choice - spell slots are in some ways far too flexible to really count you are reaching to lump them that way) -  I just consider the kind where you select what they really are at the levels and throughout your career to be not actually distinct from feats (powers and feats  are largely the same for instance especially those feats with a level limit and a class restriction.

The fact that the sub-classes in essentials required as extensive a resource cost to gain abilities from one-another as from a separate class was pretty much saying "not really the same class".

What it takes to feel like a real member of the class is hugely subjective I will grant you that, not sure if there is rule of thumb to even keep it in the ball park - the problem of not feeling like a real spell caster starting out was indeed an issue way back in 1e era = they started out too close to incompetant
Expanding capabilities in terms of breadth and versatility like gaining rituals or learning spells or I suppose martial practices - has some advantage. Front loading to me makes a character feel more like an adult actually my 18 year old knight in historical/legendary context has already had from 8 to 10 years of learning (potentially very extensive). Going up 1 level causing this huge jump in ability like we see in many flavors of D&D is scratch

_________________
Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:47 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Well you are specifying selectable class features I dont mind those as much (I actually dislike the wired down features where a single selection at the beginning is it)   I just consider the kind where you select them to be not really distinct from feats (powers and feats  are largely the same for instance especially those feats with a level limit and a class restriction.  Their more limited poachability because you can only multiclass one other class and hybrid another (thats less flexible than normal feats sure - but in terms of results? its pretty flexible ) .  The fact that the sub-classes in essentials required as extensive a resource cost to gain abilities from one-another as from a separate class was weird pretty much saying not safe, not really the same class.
So... the only really defining feature for you re: class features is the fact that they can't be selected, am I correct? Because as I mentioned earlier, virtually every pre-Essentials class is filled with selectable class features, from Fighters to Bards to Warlords to Wizards to even Barbarians, Sorcerers, Rangers & Rogues have very few to no non-selectable class features, which means the only really defining features of classes would have to be pared down to HP, defenses, weapon proficiency, and maybe one or two non-selectable class features (like Sneak Attack and Combat Challenge). So far the only classes I can think of at the top of my head that have more "real" class features than most other classes would be the Vampire, maybe the Binder, the Bladesinger, aaaaand the Berzerker I think. I can't think of a pre-Essentials class that doesn't have at least one variable class feature unless you remove all non-PHB materials... and even then it's a bit of a challenge looking for classes who lack variable features (even the Fighter gets to choose whether his +1 to hit from his class feature applies to 1-Handed or 2-Handed weapons).

I think the main problem here involves the subject of "skills & perks". According to TVTropes, skills are often simply enhancements to actions you can already undertake, whereas perks grant you new abilities that can't be [readily] duplicated by other characters. This puts feats, powers and class features under "perks", which makes their differences far less noticeable than when you compare them to even D&D 4E skills (who sometimes has a "trained only" portion that makes them act more like perks than skills).  And because they're all under "perks", even if the type of perks are different, it's easy to simply dismiss all of them as "same".

Garthanos wrote:
What it takes to feel like a real member of the class is hugely subjective I will grant you that, not sure if there is rule of thumb to even keep it in the ball park - the problem of not feeling like a real spell caster starting out was indeed an issue way back in 1e era = they started out too close to incompetant
Expanding capabilities in terms of breadth and versatility like gaining rituals or learning spells or I suppose martial practices - has some advantage. Front loading to me makes a character feel more like an adult actually my 18 year old knight in historical/legendary context has already had from 8 to 10 years of learning (potentially very extensive). Going up 1 level causing this huge jump in ability like we see in many flavors of D&D is scratch
The question really is, "what does a level represent, and what is the actual, in-world relationship between EXP and level?" Because frankly the "realism" in any D&D-ish system is wonky to downright ridiculous on so many levels, I really find it hard to justify any discussion pertaining to the game's reality in-world.

The most obvious example involves falling down a hundred foot cliff and living to tell the tale, but even as simple as the very nature of EXP in relation to the leveling system I've found odd to laughable: "kill 500 goblins to gain 5% to 30% improvement in talking" (depending on edition), really?

So far the closest fantasy RPG I've seen that *probably* emulates pseudo-reality well enough for me without having to rely on *too* many rules would be Ars Magica, but only with heavy GM intervention (wherein he'd restrict skill progression to skills actually attempted [and maybe failed at, or succeeded at, depending on the desired tone & style of the campaign], as opposed to the default "buy anything you want [that more or less makes sense]"). With age modifiers, quick deaths, and an insight on the politics and beliefs of medieval Europe between Church and occult, it's very, very steeped in lore that they apparently did heavy research on; probably the only thing really missing would be the interactions between blunt, piercing and slashing weapons against chain (effective against non-piercing), metal plates, leather (effective against blunt I think), and other armor materials & designs, but otherwise I feel it does well in both realism and fantasy.

Back to D&D, you're right: the feel of a class is subjective, which is where the playtesting of each class comes into play. Part of the feel comes from number and variety of options, the relative attack power of each class on a per-action basis, the way each option is presented, and how each element & sub-element of each game mechanic interacted with every other game mechanic in the game (versus the intended feel at each level). That's why even though you could play D&D 4E in a way that allowed you to feel like a given class, the presentation alone put off some while the gameplay put off others, because even if they couldn't exactly put into words what "it isn't D&D" really means, it showed that the expectations they had for certain classes weren't met, options balance & martial superiority be d***ed.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:59 am

chaosfang wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
Well you are specifying selectable class features I dont mind those as much (I actually dislike the wired down features where a single selection at the beginning is it)   I just consider the kind where you select them to be not really distinct from feats (powers and feats  are largely the same for instance especially those feats with a level limit and a class restriction.  Their more limited poachability because you can only multiclass one other class and hybrid another (thats less flexible than normal feats sure - but in terms of results? its pretty flexible ) .  The fact that the sub-classes in essentials required as extensive a resource cost to gain abilities from one-another as from a separate class was weird pretty much saying not safe, not really the same class.
So... the only really defining feature for you re: class features is the fact that they can't be selected, am I correct? Because as I mentioned earlier, virtually every pre-Essentials class is filled with selectable class features
Prior to the invention of feats most non casters were pretty much wired down with non-selectables and ofcourse 5e has much more.(not a trend I am happy with - perhaps being associated with real-easy multiclassing makes it acceptable).

chaosfang wrote:

I think the main problem here involves the subject of "skills & perks". According to TVTropes, skills are often simply enhancements to actions you can already undertake, whereas perks grant you new abilities that can't be [readily] duplicated by other characters. This puts feats, powers and class features under "perks", which makes their differences far less noticeable than when you compare them to even D&D 4E skills (who sometimes has a "trained only" portion that makes them act more like perks than skills).  And because they're all under "perks", even if the type of perks are different, it's easy to simply dismiss all of them as "same".
Those seem meaningful designations... except as you point out some things are combinational, they are duo function could give three categories. Perks, Skills and Skill/Perks or perhaps more usefully those trained benefits could be integrated with 4e's skill powers... martial practices point to another enhancement for the skill system to me.

Many feats are skills by that definition ie enhancements of things you can already undertake.

Some see martial powers as could be presented as a skill but are presented as a perk ( It is perhaps the ones which aren't skill like -"enhancing something you can already do" that many grognards object to)

chaosfang wrote:

Garthanos wrote:
What it takes to feel like a real member of the class is hugely subjective I will grant you that, not sure if there is rule of thumb to even keep it in the ball park - the problem of not feeling like a real spell caster starting out was indeed an issue way back in 1e era = they started out too close to incompetant
Expanding capabilities in terms of breadth and versatility like gaining rituals or learning spells or I suppose martial practices - has some advantage. Front loading to me makes a character feel more like an adult actually my 18 year old knight in historical/legendary context has already had from 8 to 10 years of learning (potentially very extensive). Going up 1 level causing this huge jump in ability like we see in many flavors of D&D is scratch
The question really is, "what does a level represent, and what is the actual, in-world relationship between EXP and level?" Because frankly the "realism" in any D&D-ish system is wonky to downright ridiculous on so many levels, I really find it hard to justify any discussion pertaining to the game's reality in-world.
The sense that my D&D character is an incompetent is I think affected directly by the uber-jumps in capability independent of knowing how competent real "knights" could be - although it doesn't help. Most people have personal experience that demonstrates when you know very little on a subject you experience fast up grades and very much less when you are capable. (The 1e spell caster I mentioned isn't being compared to something real but rather itself next level and the amount it can contribute relative to others ).   Your character doubling or tripling your battle-field value in pre 4e era when you went up a level / was pretty insane (OK it was a trend I am sure the starting grade of 3e was more competant than previously too). Hmmm ok the whole thing is pretty divergent essentials didn't undermine this stuff much the retrograde slant of 5e sort of does - and that has me grumbly. 4e front loading feels competent to me.

_________________
Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.


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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:32 am

chaosfang wrote:
 the presentation alone put off some while the gameplay put off others, because even if they couldn't exactly put into words what "it isn't D&D" really means
I personally think that imbalance was integrated into an "expected" feature (for some) and they stripped the tree I don't think I have any olive branches left for those who don't value fairness (hell I think they put it on the bonfire).

_________________
Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:08 pm

I believe every edition of D&D had the same "frontloading" nature of D&D 4E for three classes: Fighting Men, Magic Users, and Clerics. This is because up until the introduction and integration of feats (& metamagic feats as bonus features), the Fighter, Wizard, and Cleric were essentially front-loaded then you were simply given bonus existing stuff. Thieves started out that way as well, though the same couldn't be said of the Monk, Paladin, Ranger & Barbarian later on (especially in 2E I think, when they acquired class features at higher levels [not sure about 1E and earlier]).

And speaking of Monk, I think what really counts in the "feel" of the class
isn't whether or not all of its class features are front-loaded, but whether or not the starting class features are enough to properly represent the archetype that a class is supposed to represent. Compare the unarmed butt-kicking Monk, who can already do his "Eastern wushu" martial arts at level 1, with the Wizard who could only fire a single spell at level 1 before having to resort to crossbow or dart attacks.

Now compare a 3E Wizard who can only cast 4 spells + several (limited-use) cantrips per day, to any 4E spellcaster -- even a Bladesinger or Swordmage -- who can spam all their at-will spells at level 1: who feels more "magical" in this case, and thus is able to fulfill the "feel" of spellcaster?

(the second half of the reply is a bit of a wall of text)
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   

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Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e
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4ENCLAVE :: 4th Edition :: 4e General Discussion-
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