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[D&D4e] What makes it not feel like D&D?


Mordai of Asmodeus
Well, 4E reminds me a lot of BD&D. That's how I was introduced to the game. And my black box came with a gridded map and cardboard minis. To me, 4E feels like someone took all the good stuff from every edition, left out all the bad stuff, and then somehow managed to make it all balanced and cohesive. And that is in regards to mechanics and lore. I've enjoyed reading all of the tidbits of history just as much as playing the game.


Unfortunate inventor of the Bratwurstarita
Validated User
Nicks, cuts, and bruises aren't wounds. That actually reinforces my point, which is totally in agreement with Gygax and Arneson. 50 HP represents nicks, cuts, and bruises to a high level fighter, so he steels himself (second wind) and launches back into the fray.
Ah, I see. I read your post as saying that before the last HP is used, there is no contact made whatsoever, not that the attack was a cosmetic/ineffectual blow.

Also, having whanged myself on the shin with a trowel last week, I'd argue that a nick should count as a wound, because that f'ing hurt. :p



cried twice in his life
Validated User
Um, huh? In terms of design space, most 3E classes were just a small handful of scaling abilities, and sometimes access to an existing spell list. 4E classes ALL require their own library of powers.
*Some* 3E classes, when only focusing on the class, are easier than 4E classes, but if you focus on the character, 4E is almost universally easier to generate a character. Mostly because, like I said, of the skill system. Skill synergies, I'm looking at you.


Registered User
Validated User
Fair enough.
But honestly, if Exalted 3rd Ed continued to be a game of demigods striding across creation and imposing their will on all beneath them, or in the case of the Dragonblooded, stopping said demigods, and if WFRP continued to be a gritty game where you spent half of your time face down in the mud and jokes continued among players about small but vicious dogs then those new editions would still feel to me, at least, like the older games. Doubly so if early suppliments in each case contained full rules for the missing castes and races..
Emphasis mine: Do you see what you did there... those are you're ideas of what
each of those games are... what about a Solar game, not about imposing your will upon all beneath you but championing those without the power to do so... or a Dragonblooded game about outcastes in the scavenger lands who team up with Solars... would Exalted be Exalted if those games weren't also possible... what if they were all you could play? It's purely subjective... that's why it is based on previous edtitions, people played with, types of campaigns, etc.

I can see why many, many people would be pissed off at the decision to release half the Solars in one book and half in another (I would be myself) but I think that's a different issue from holding half orcs and barabrians back to PHBII (the PHB classes aren't incomplete in the same way that the set of Solar castes would be incomplete), and secondly it wouldn't be a factor which influenced the feel of the game.
I think the Barbarian is and has become such a staple of fantasy that I can't name a recent fantasy game that doesn't cater to the archetype. You apparently feel differently... Funnily the Half-orc is a race I associate solely with D&D... don't ask me why but I can't off the top of my head think of another fantasy game I've played (non-D&D derivative) where Half-orcs were present or a player race. Again you feel differently, but I'm not saying your vision of "what D&D is"... is wrong, just different from my own.

In my opinion (and I accept it is an opinion) the classes and races available in PHBI aren't a key feature in the feel of the game. If PHBI can contained no "traditional" classes or races then I might agree with you, but as it stands, only one race and one class out of eight in each case are genuinely new (Tieflings and warlocks both have history with the game, and the Elf/Eladrin split was, IMO, long overdue). The main reason for the ommissions is that the 4E PHBI doesn't contain as many classes or races as 3E.

It's more that I can fully understand people finding the omission of certain races and classes from PHBI annoying for a variety of reasons - I'd have liked to have seen bards much earlier myself - I just don't see how that understandable irritation can equate to a loss of the "D&D feel". "It doesn't feel like D&D" seems to be used as shorthand for "it doesn't feel like my favourite edition/accomodate my current campaign of D&D", which might be a legitimate complaint, but it's not the complaint that people are making.
Isn't this what both yours and other peoples feelings of "what D&D is" are based on... again it's feelings. You got lucky and 4e coincides with your feelings of "what D&D is" for others it hasn't.

Oh, it certainly isn't. But then I have a similar view on a lot of the other complaints, the setting for example as above. And it's not as if I wouldn't have liked much more stuff for the existing classes in 4E either. I play a lot of wizards (as an aside I'm rather happy with the wizard nerf - it lets me play a class I enjoy for the flavour without feeling like people think I'm a munchkin) and realise that the wizard options in PHBI aren't as extensive as in 3E. For that reason I'm looking forward to Arcane Power. But I still think the 4E wizard feels like a wizard right out of the box. It doesn't feel like a specialist illusionist or necromancer, true, but what it does feels like a wizard - the options are wizard like even if not all wizard like options from previous editions are available.
That's great, but if someone always themed their Wizard... like a specialist wizard it's possible this new wizard feels nothing like an old one to them. It's subjective. This isn't the "4e isn't D&D thread" ... this is the "4e doesn't feel like D&D to me thread".

I guess that sums up my view on the whole thing pretty well - If you need everything, or even certain things, from previous editions in order to achieve the "D&D feel" then 4E might be lacking, but that strikes me as a narrow definition. But if you look at what it has and how those things feel in play then I can't see how you can say that what it has doesn't feel like D&D.

All, quite obviously, IMO.
But then why not just play Runequest or Earthdawn if nothing except killing things, exploring and taking loot, is necessary for the D&D feel? I can respect how you feel as far as the issue, but it seems like you are being closed minded because others don't agree with you on what the feel of D&D is. YMMV of course.
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cried twice in his life
Validated User
Unless this is sarcasm, you're also calling Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson stupid since they insisted since the beginning of the game that HP were not wounds until you hit zero, i.e. you are not ever actually "hit" until you go to 0 HP.
There is much sarcasm fail in this thread ;)

Yes, I was actually serious when I said, "This means, quite literally, that he has 2% of his body left. Call it his left pinky, half an eyeball, and a piece of scalp." :D

Tokezo Tenken

I R Serious Monkey
Validated User
Ah, I see. I read your post as saying that before the last HP is used, there is no contact made whatsoever, not that the attack was a cosmetic/ineffectual blow.

Also, having whanged myself on the shin with a trowel last week, I'd argue that a nick should count as a wound, because that f'ing hurt. :p

That's because you and I aren't bad enough dudes to save the president. ;)

Yeah, 4E plays with the abstraction of HP that's always been there. I think of it like Die Hard. McClane gets the heck beat out of him, but most of the "hits" aren't traumatic wounds.

neko ewen

my brain is melting
Validated User
In 4th edition, every class uses a nearly identical template. Power structures are identical, and the skill system favors no class. Fighters no longer have an advantage in a fight, because every class is an "adventuring" class, and perfectly combat capable. I know it was a design goal, but it doesn't sit well with me. It leaves my pacifist priestesses of Peoni out in the cold...
That's kind of one of those "So why play D&D in the first place?" kind of things. I know it's not totally fair to say that, but it is true that, say, The Shadow of Yesterday, would be profoundly better if you really want to be able to have something like a compelling pacifist character.

But the different classes really do play differently. Everyone gets the same number of At-Will/Encounter/Daily powers, and a comparable selection of class features, but for example I've played a fighter, a swordmage, and a warlord, and each has been a very different experience (even though two of those are defenders).

Yep, that's kind of what I was saying in the first place: that it's easy to get "the wrong feel," even though in times past very different games were both considered to be D&D, and there was no real disconnect. One was just set apart by the term "Advanced."
Let me put it this way. I've read AD&D1e and 2e, played a bit of 3e, and am now in a regular 4e campaign. When I bought the PDF of Rules Cyclopedia to read, I was blown away by just how different it was from every other version of D&D I'd ever encountered.

Yep, I should have known better.

My bad, won't happen again.
He does have a point though. At a certain point the standard D&D campaign setup becomes kind of absurd in the first place.


Registered User
Validated User
I started playing with OD&D back in 1975. OD&D, Holmes Basic, first edition AD&D, B/X D&D, BECMI/RC D&D, and the core rule books for second edition AD&D are my standard for what I consider "D&D." While these games all had their differences, published adventures, monsters, treaure were pretty much interchangeable between any of them with very little rewriting needed.

They all featured one thing that I consider a must for a game to be D&D -- quick-playing, abstract combat. Most combats took 10-15 minutes. A huge involved combat might take 30 minutes. This mean groups that enjoyed hack-n-slash could have a lot of different combats in a 4-5 hour game. Groups that were more interested in exploration, social stuff, etc. could still have 4 to 6 combats and have 3 hours or so left in their session for all the non-combat stuff they were more interested in.

Once you moved to 2e edition with the Player's Option books, each combat started taking longer and longer. By 3.x, a single relatively small combat could easily take an average of 60 minutes. 4e combats take as long or longer (although, each character gets more chances to do combat stuff in that time). Long combats make the campaign progress slower for hack-n-slash fans (fewer areas explored, their monsters dispatched, and their treasure obtained per game session). Longer combats mean less time in the session for non-combat stuff for those for whom the main draw of the game wasn't combat. This was a major change in the game and is one of the main reasons 3.x and 4e do not feel like D&D to me.

Pre-3.x D&D was simple enough the people could play a class like fighter and never need to buy a copy of the rule books. They could have fun without mastering complex rules (3.x) or learning tactical combat based on mastering the tactical rules the game uses (4e). This were more major changes that made the game feel less like D&D to me.

4e has a number of other areas that are very different from previous editions that other people have mentioned: disassociated rules that do not easy map to rational descriptions of what is going on in the game world (ALL editions have some rules like this -- hit points, for example -- but 4e has a lot more such rules), character classes that all have equal abilities in combat with almost all their non-combat abilities from prior editions removed, magic that no long feels very magical, lots monsters that seem to exist only to be fought as they seem to have no niche in the world, etc. All of these things make 4e feel even less like D&D to me than 3.x did (and it barely felt like D&D to me.)

A lot of people probably like most of all of these changes, but I find them all taking the D&D brand in a direction I have no interest in going -- because that direction is much less fun for me. I dislike these changes and they make the WOTC editions -- especially 4e -- feel like a completely different game that was accidentally printed between a D&D cover.

Old Geezer

New member
Well, 4E is simply the latest step in a continuum that, for me, started with AD&D.

I never played AD&D. I swiped some of the stuff from it and put it in my game, but there were too many rules.

I love D&D for having the bare minimum number of rules so the GM doesn't have to ** DECIDE ** if every fucking sword swing hits or every damn spell, gives you some monsters and treasure, some amazingly well done guidelines on setting up a medieval barony, and then gets out of the way and lets you and your friends go bananas.

As I've said before... "A hit chart, a saving throw table, some character progression, monsters, treasure, and some rules on air combat, sea combat, and building a barony. Add imagination and go apeshit."

To me what seems lacking is the "add imagination and go apeshit".

The apeshit is gone.


Independent Procrastinor
Validated User
character classes that all have equal abilities in combat with almost all their non-combat abilities from prior editions removed, magic that no long feels very magical, lots monsters that seem to exist only to be fought as they seem to have no niche in the world, etc. All of these things make 4e feel even less like D&D to me than 3.x did (and it barely felt like D&D to me.)
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