Multiclassing in 4E?


Multiclassing is something that's been around, in one form or another, throughout D&D's entire lifetime. It appears to be getting a pretty drastic revision for the new edition, and I'm creating this forum in order discuss the various merits and flaws of the new approach, as well as to serve as a place to consolidate all of the speculation on 4th Edition, rather than waiting for Gazgurk to break it out in some other area ;).

Based on what I can gather (from and the various character sheets WotC has posted online), the design philosophy behind the new approach to multiclassing is pretty sound. The stated design goals for multiclassing in 4E are as follows:

"1.Design the classes, make them cool, then force multiclassing to play nice with them. (*rather than designing classes with avoiding multiclass abuse in mind)
2. Institute controls to prevent abusive combinations.
3. Institute controls to make every combination as playable as possible."

How this philosophy is put into practice is an entirely different matter, and one that I'm still unsure about.

"Multiclassing" in 4E is approached entirely with feats. For each class, there is a class-specific "multiclass feat" that grants character who take it access to some of the iconic skills and abilities of their "second class," as well as qualifying for any other character advancement options that are limited to the second class. For example, a fighter could take the Sneak of Shadows feat(assuming he meets the Dexterity-13 prerequisite) and gain the Thievery skill and the ability to Sneak Attack once per encounter.

Once you have take a multiclass feat, there are also "power-swap" feats that allow you to trade one of your abilities from your original class for one of equivalent power from your second class. I've always felt that there should be a system like this in place, a way to swap class abilities in and out with one another for additional customization.

The main problem I see is that while individual abilities have become more interchangable, the classes themselves have become less modular. It's kind of funny that they're still calling this process "multiclassing," as it's no longer possible to *actually* gain levels in another class. Once you've chosen a class, you can't decide to wholly give up on it and pursue another path. For example, if I'm playing a young wizard who, through the course of the campaign, decides that he wants to turn his back on his arcane abilities and become a warrior, I can't just start "taking levels in fighter." In order to reflect that mechanically, I've have to completely rebuild my character as a fighter with some multiclass wizard stuff. The advantage, I suppose, is more divirsification within a single class, so that not every fighter takes same group of feats.

The overarching design philosophy behind 4th Edition seems to revolve around categorizing things in order to increase efficiency. Every party needs a Defender, which can be a Fighter or Paladin, and my Paladin is unique because of these specific elements I've chosen. The interesting thing is that the lower down you get on that tree, the more fiddily bits you have. 4th Edition appears to provide a lot more freedom and customization down on the specific ability level, but your choices of character roles is quite a bit more limited, with character classes straddling that gap.

I think the reason that many people (myself included!) have a knee-jerk negative reaction to this idea is because nobody likes to be categorized in this much detail, because we're individuals! The same goes for our characters, we don't like the oppressive WotC regime telling us who we have to be and what roles we need to take in our games.

The truth is, though, everybody can be categorized, and it's not necessisarily a bad thing. I can lump myself into the "People Who Enjoy D&D" box, which fits into the larger box of "Tabletop RPG Enthusiasts," which I think applies to everyone that frequents this site. The "Tabletop" box fits into the larger "nerd" catergory, which fits still further into the "Humans Who Have Enough of Their Needs Fulfilled to Worry About and Create Social Strata," which fits even more broadly into a whole succession of other groups.

These categories, character roles and classes, have, in some form or another, existed in the game since it's beginnning. Everybody knows that wizards and fighters do different things in D&D, and you can't easily substitute one fo the other. The real question is: Will making these categories explicit in the rules (rather than implicit as they always have been) be good for the game? Only time will tell, I suppose.

What do you guys think?

I think the reason that many people (myself included!) have a knee-jerk negative reaction to this idea is because nobody likes to be categorized in this much detail, because we're individuals! The same goes for our characters, we don't like the oppressive WotC regime telling us who we have to be and what roles we need to take in our games.

I think this sums up very well how I feel about it, except I wouldn't call my reaction 'knee-jerk', it's a carefully considered one.

I happen to like the way multiclassing works in 3.5e, albeit with a few house tweaks. I think that designing classes to avoid multiclass abuse is a better, more rigorous way to do it, and I like the flexibility of building a highly individual character by taking interesting combinations of classes. Specific game-breaking combinations (and I acknowledge they exist) can be handled by a competent referee without too much trouble. Aha, and there's the rub - this doesn't lend itself well to computer-based play, and I think we all know that that's the direction WoTC are headed in.

By disallowing multiclassing they reduce flexibility in order to facilitate a more mechanical approach requiring less interpretation and referee intervention. Less work, and easier to automate. This, depending on what you are looking for in your game, can either be a good or bad thing.

For me, the great thing about 3.5e is its flexibility - so much better than earlier editions for that very reason above all else.

I should add that, as our group is playing a very long-running campaign, if 4e can't easily represent people's existing characters with all their treasured foibles (not to mention my stellar cast of NPCs), it's a non-option for us, really.

Take a wild guess at what I think about anything to do with 4e.

I see your points, and, for the most part, I agree with you. One of the advantages I can see with this approach, however, is that is more or less makes every multiclass possibility mechanically viable. You no longer have to worry as much whether your monk/bard/ninja combo can actually contribute to the party in the mechanical sense.

The question about whether this actually counts as "multiclassing" is a difficult one. At first glance, it's really easy to pass this off as "WotC's chucking out multiclassing," and, if you strictly interpret it, I suppose that statement is true.

While this version of "multiclassing" does completely trash prior convention, if it's faithful to the spirit of how multiclass characters have worked in other editions, I won't have much of a problem with it.

As for the computer thing, it's hard to say. It's a fact that a lot of the inspiration for 4E came from computer and video games. It's not neccessarily a bad thing to take ideas from other creative media to improve your own product. It only gets bad when you choose to change your product so much that you lose what made it unique in the first place. If you look at the current market of video games (FPS's and MMO's in particular), there's a large trend towards imitation rather than innovation. Whether 4E is an instance of this is more or less a matter of opinion right now.

I should add that, as our group is playing a very long-running campaign, if 4e can't easily represent people's existing characters with all their treasured foibles (not to mention my stellar cast of NPCs), it's a non-option for us, really.

I'm with ya there. If your campaign doesn't work with the new rules, there's no reason to change it. Games really work best when they're designed with a specific system iteration in mind.

Haha. While no one really doubts what your response will be, the point of my question wasn't really to get a yes or no answer. I wanted to spark some discussion.

I think I can safely assume you don't like the 4E approach to multiclassing. Is this because it's associated with 4E, or are there specific components of it that turn you off? Is there a way they could have altered this approach to make it more to your liking.

I'm not so interested in the actual answer as the WHY behind it.

"I'm not so interested in the actual answer as the WHY behind it."

You'd make a good English teacher Lorthyne. Ever thought about it?

I've got a few thoughts to share on the subject, but it is late and I have to get to bed.

I'm afraid you'll find converting to 4E extremely difficult, if not impossible.
As WotC says: You're better off finishing the 3.5 campaign and starting a new 4E one. In your case, it may take you guys a few years.

It's not multiclassing anymore it's now "Ability Cafiteria"

It's also a munchkins dreamland, it pretty much turns all the classes into a giant pick an mix for you to pick and chose any abilities from any class, now you can take a class you find the best, and if they
get any abilities you don't like, oh you trade them in for something
better, I don't really think a fighter with sneak attack, divine spells, and rage is at all fair. Abilities are no longer some think
only your class has and you can be proud of, their currency.

Healing surges are insanely idiotic too. " Oh no! I have a hugh
gash across my abdomen" " Hey Presto Healing Surge! Wow! It's

I'm with on that 3.5e is better,but I like how it slightly penalizes
players for multiclassing, I think a wide array of base classes (Something you can't find in 4e) is better. Instead of being an
extremely confusing Fighter/Rogue/Wizard and have tons of penalties , you can just take bard and get some other cool abilities.

"Healing surges are insanely idiotic too. " Oh no! I have a hugh gash across my abdomen" " Hey Presto Healing Surge! Wow! It's gone!"" Again, it all comes down to the players and the GM, in my opinion. Healing surges can only be used once an encounter, and are "only" a quarter of your HP; if one of your players is saying the "Presto!" line above, he needs to be hit. A more acceptable response would be something like: "I grit my teeth over the pain, use a free action to rub some dirt into it to help the blood coagulate, and press on." A "Presto!" line would make me, as a GM, iterate some of the same Presto! magick on the beasties and open up a few more gashes. (Or, alternatively, for 4E, I'd introduce some amazing new Bloodied ability: Psionic Gashes! /me grins.)

Lorthyne: I've got a response boiling in my stomach for this, but I'm just too busy (with the forthcoming Gamegrene stuff, actually) to get it down cleanly. Maybe after the launch, unfortunately.

First of all, not every version of D&D had multiclassing of some kind. I'm not sure if it originated in AD&D 1st or 2nd edition, but it was definitely not there in the early days (when Dwarf was a class).

Second, to me it seems another facet of the conceptual change from 3rd to 4th edition, moving from a more modular, scientific "simulation" approach (where most things could be described with a formula) to a more gamey (for a lack of a better term) game, more pick-and-chose and less DIY.


More to the point, while iy appears that we have less options now regarding our classes, I think there is some good there: what is left is better defined - limiting the options makes players explore those more deeply. Who the heck knows what a cleric/bard/samurai should be like anyway?

You know, the number of base classes hasn't diminished all that much. I don't it's fair to say that 11 base classes counts as "a wide array," while 8 doesn't. It's a pretty small difference.

While we are losing a few options as far as the number of classes, this has allowed them to focus on more options within the classes.

Look at the rogue. In 3.x, your customizations options for a first level rogue include race, ability scores, where to put your skill points, a feat, and your equipment selection. Your other abilities are copied straight to your character sheet from the Player's Handbook.

The 4E rogue gives you all of those options, but instead of copying down your ability list, you get to choose which ones you get from a larger list. It's like this pretty much across the board.

I agree, it's not *technically* multiclassing anymore, but it's not really an "Ability Cafeteria".

However, I don't see this option appealing to munchkins much. In order to steal abilities from another class, you have to firsttake a "multiclass feat," which are limited to one per character (you can pick up a second class, but not a third). Once you have "multiclassed," it requires a feat to swap one of your current abilities for one of equivalent power from another class. In effect, you're trading 3 character options for one of a different class plus a smattering of other, smaller benefits. Most min/maxers I know would prefer to stick within their current class instead of losing abilities in order to dip into other ones.

I have thought about teaching as career, and in a variety of subjects (music, philosophy, history, chemistry), although I can't say I've considered English. Too many bad experiences with high school English teachers (I had one that put an "F" on my college transcript because I could identify a thesis statement and she couldn't). That, and I'm too lazy to ever become motivated enough to write/read/grade papers on subjects that I don't care much about.

Multiclassing are feats?
If the Fighter hasn't changed much, I bet there will be groups starting on level two with only fighters. To think about it, why does the Ranger even exist on 4E? He's just a cooler Fighter/Druid. And the Paladin? - a Fighter/Cleric. Bard: Fighter/Rogue/Wizard.

There's little point IMO to keep more than four classes in this new system: Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, Cleric (Druid being just a Cleric from a "natural" deity). Then you can have your Rogue more Wizardy, your Fighter more Ceric-y... whatever.

You forgeting alignment, looks, personallity, this is a roleplaying
game you know.

You say it's diminished by 3, it's actually diminished by 5.
The Warlock is sort of cool in it's own way, but it has nothing on
the Sorcerer or the Druid. The warlord can't hold a candle to the Barbarian either.

Once an encounter!!! A QUARTER OF HP!!!!!!! God, Whose ass do I have to kiss to put the characters in sorta kinda, maybe moderate danger of being a little hurt.

I don't think putting all dirt and gritting of teeth in the world is going to restore a quarter of your life force. Short of your characters being Rambo, I don't think theirs a reasonable explaination for healing surges. I think it would be acceptable
to have healing surges be a second wind that helps knock off some
penalties from being hurt.

I don't really like how most bloodied actions are beneficial,
there's actually nothing good about being beaten half to death.

But F/R/Ws don't have bardic music, and Clerics don't have wild shape.

While I'm no fan of Multiclass, I don't want some half-assed Trade some abilities once kind of deal. I want multiclassing to be their
when theirs no other option or class you can take, like a Ninja is
just a Rogue/Monk without the confusion, but what about a Cleric/Rogue?

WotC is better off shutting up and continuing to suck on Hasbro's
teat of greed.

Let's see:

-They had to make sure that 4e would be incompatible with 3.5
so that people would have to BUY 3 books instead of a cheap
conversion guide. Even 2nd with all it's weirdness and Thac0
was compatible with 3rd.
-The SRD is now an online book index. Yay!

I think that is the point. Music and wild-shape could be powerful options that a character could invest in -- thus growing in a direction. Skill based RPG's have been using this mechanic for a long time. I think 8 character classes is better than 11. Three or four character types may even be better.

My biggest beef with character classes is that they don't seem to be tied to the story. There is probably a wizard school in most settings. When you have a plethora of "classes" is there a school for each one? Is there a school for the "Abjurant Champion" -- If not, where do they learn their skills? Eight character classes makes sense to me if there are eight kinds of places where characters can train and learn their skills. Eventual discovery, natural talent, and other factors could account for certain customizable feats and abilities to differentiate your character.

If you have a fighter template that can be customized to create a barbarian (Extra hit die [d12], Sneaking Skills, Outdoor Survival, Use of Magic Penalty, Use of Armour penalty), Paladin (Priestly Stuff, Tithe restriction, behaviour restriction), and Ranger (Less hit dice [d8], tracking, Druidic Skills) then you have created game balance. Creating a consistent advantage/disadvantage buying scheme then leads to a balanced approach. Having four classes as Yiannes suggests makes this much easier as there are only four starting points for your character build.

One thing that D&D does a really poor job of addressing is where the powers and skills come from within the setting. Going up a class level is a short-hand for advancement of skills and powers that may not have been introduced into the game yet. To me it creates a disconnection. Players are more connected to the rulebooks than the story. I wonder if 4e will address this at all.

I suggest you take a look at this thread before taking an ardent stand on the way any healing mechanism works in D&D.

I wonder if 4e will address this at all

Whilst I hope to be proved wrong, the cynic in me suspects that they won't want to place any hindrances in the way of the holy grail of 'levelling'...they probably want a fast-paced game that caters to the impatient.

The way I rationalise these things in my own campaign world is fairly ad hoc. Some classes (and feats) I see as ones that perhaps someone might be able to take up when they have some kind of epiphany. Others require training by a specific order or an individual already possessing that feat. It depends on how 'intuitive' I see the class or feat in question to be.

There are plenty of prestige classes that simply don't exist within the PC's homeworld, but which they might receive training in if they travel to other worlds. Alternatively, I might allow the PC to research entry into the class (I'm not such an anti-metagaming purist that I would disallow this because their character has never heard of the class....)

Basically I always require some kind of rationale.

I'm guessing (and it's just a guess) that WotC R&D probably considered minimizing the number of classes even further and going more skill-based.
However, this is not allowed because it's "not D&D" (no sarcasm intended in the quotes) - the feel of the game would be too different and so would be likely to alienate the customers.

The problem here is that when WotC did exactly what you're proposing (minor rules revisions to continue improving the game without major overhauls) when they went from 3.0 to 3.5, they were criticized, calling them greedy, for being too lazy to create a whole new edition but still changing the game enough to require new book purchases. Now that they ARE putting in the effort to create a new edition, you're calling them greedy for doing it. You can't switch sides like that and expect your criticism to have any merit. You can't criticize a company for listening to their customers and doing what they've asked them too.

Also, you seem to be missing the point of a conversion guide here. Conversion guides have never intended or claimed to be a replacement for the core rulebooks. Rather, they serve as an aide for someone who has played a previous edition, has bought the new edition, and wants to take something from the old and use it in the new.

Go try to play 3rd Edition with only your 2nd Edition sourcebooks and a conversion guide. It doesn't work.

Also, none of the various and sundry editions of D&D are "compatabile" with one another like you seem to think they should. 2nd Edition characters don't work in 1st or 3rd, because they're very different rule sets. If they all DID work together like you want them too, then it completely destroys the purpose of a new edition.

Unless I've forgotten how to subtract, 11 - 8 = 3. It's not valid to say that total character options have been diminished because you like the older classes more than the new ones. The options still exist, even if you don't like them.

As for alignment, looks, and personality, these have nothing to do with the mechanical rules. There is no place in the rules of ANY D&D book that states that you are required by the game to describe your character's looks, personality, actions, behaviors, or anything else aesthetic in a specific way. These are things that are created and displayed entirely by the person playing the character. You simple can't argue that these options are gone because they threw the rigid alignment system that most of us hate out the window.

Show me one instance in which a specific behavior, appearance, or other role-playing aspect of a character is specifically restricted in 4E while being allowed in previous editions.

But I can critize a company for turn my favourite game into a
(pardonne le francais) complete bumblefuck.

Law or Chaos

Can you elaborate? I don't know what you are talking about.

Most D&D DMs are inspired by fantasy and other fiction, the DM creates
the campaign world, so they should want the common character archetypes and popular character choices to be represented.

How many stories/mythologies/folklore/novels/video games/movies/whatever
have warlords or warlocks in them?

How many stories/mythologies/folklore/novels/video games/movies/whatever
have Bards, Barbarians, Druids, Monks, Sorcerers(Magic users
who inherit their power by a bloodline) in them?

"Warlord" being defined as a leader of men and armies, there are a lot. It's a really common theme, actually. Boromir is a fantastic example.

"Warlocks" technically fall under the same definition you've used for Sorceres (Magic users who inherit their powers by a bloodline). The idea of a magically-gifted child of a demon or faerie is incredibly common.

By contrast, there are a lot more stories about military leaders and bloodlines cursed with magic than there are about Druids or Bards.

Similarly, there's nothing preventing a 4E player from playing a Barbarian, Monk, Sorcerer, or Druid. You can use a preexisting class (fighter or wizard can cover all of those options) and make your character whatever you want him to be in the narrative. The barbarian rage mechanic isn't what makes someone a barbarian. Rather, a barbarian is basically a fighter that comes from an "uncivilized" society.

Saying that playing a barbarian has become impossible in 4E because the class has been taken out of the Player's Handbook is a whole lot like saying that because there isn't a "Convicted Murderer" class, it's impossible to play an escaped convict. Add whatever you want in the narrative, and find a class that most appropriately approximates what skills your character has.

I'm afraid none of this really addresses my previous remarks, however.

As long as you're doing it without any reasoning, using logical fallacies and jumping from one stance to another, you're just frustrating us.

... Except for the fact that theirs no rage, wild shape, furry of blows, fast movement, or any of those other abilities that make those
characters unique. So instead of variety, you get a fighter in a loincloth who wears tons of fur and growls a lot who you call a barbarian, but is still a fighter. BORING!

This can be solved very simply with feats.

I don't think any of those abilities are simple enough to be solved with feats.

So what I've gathered is that what you *really* want from these "lost" classes is not, as you've previously claimed, their influence in the story, as it's entirely possible to use another class and describe your character as a "barbarian" or anything else in the narrative sense. Rather, you seem to want the mechanical representation that makes them unique within the rules system. Am I right here?

Damn straight I do! It's a lot more fun to play an actual Barbarian than some loincloth wearing fighter I mentioned before who your just
pretending is a barbarian. The 3.5e rules help to bring the traits of these archetypes in as gaming aspects, such as a barbarians light armor selection and rage. Your the loinclothed and furry poser still has to fight like a typical fighter with heavy armor and everything, But a true Barbarian can let his personality loose in combat. It creates a good sense of role playing, when your archetype manifests
in everything you do.

Well, technically, you'd be some guy sitting in a chair rolling dice pretending to be a barbarian that is represented as a fighter mechanically. ;)

My point being that there's always going to be some level of "pretending" going on. When you're sitting in a basement with your friends pretending to be some person in a fantasy world, it really isn't much of a stretch to describe your character as something other than what your class says he is. What do you do if one of your players wants to play the leader of a barbarian tribe that gains his strength from his intelligence and tactical intuition instead of becoming mouth-frothingly angry? Do you roll him up as a fighter, in spite of the fact that he fits the barbarian class perfectly with one exception, or do you change the name of the rage ability to "combat meditation" and describe how these same bonuses apply from a different source?

I will also point out that in 3.5, heavy armor isn't always the best option for fighters. Fighters with a high Dexterity (14+) are better off with medium or light armor.

And, of course, there's always the option of describing the mechanical benefits of "heavy armor" in a way that makes more sense for your character. I'll let you in on a little secret: 3.5 monks actually DO wear armor, it's just disguised as a Wisdom modifier and a static bonus. How they have this extra protection is explained differently in the narrative (they're Asian-style martial artists that intentially avoid armor because it restricts their mobility), but their various AC bonuses serve exactly the same for them as light armor would.

You can do this with just about any mechanical abstraction. Don't let your creativity be restricted by how abilities are worded in the rules. This is your game, do whatever you want with it. It's not like Gary Gygax will rise from the grave and come after you with his +3 baseball bat of knee-capping if you don't follow the rules to the letter.

It's not like Gary Gygax will rise from the grave and come after you with his +3 baseball bat of knee-capping if you don't follow the rules to the letter.

So, you also listen to Fear the Boot?

Yep. I had an FtB quote as my sig for a while.

The beard thing? :)

Any chance I turned you on to FtB?

Sorry, zip, but no. My podcast listening evolved out of a pretty weird cycles. I found WotC's official D&D podcast, and then started branching out when I ran out of listening material. I found the Game Master Show on iTunes, which led to The Rolemonkeys, which, through various degrees of seperation, led me to all of my other podcasts. My podcatcher is pretty full, with All Games Considered, Dungeons & Dragons Podcast, Escape Pod, Fear the Boot, The Game Master Show, The Independent Insurgency, PodCastle, The Rolemonkeys, Sons of Kryos, TGTMB, Virtual Play, and The Voice of the Revolution.

I know we're completely off-topic, so..err..let's keep on being.

I see you've quite a list of podcasts there and most of them are gaming related. I guess you're recommending all of them?

Myself, I listen to:
All Games Considered, the D&D Podcast, Fear the Boot, Have Games Will Travel, Pulp Gamer Hardcore, PC Gamer podcast, The Gamer Traveler, This Week in Tech, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, 7th Son, Astronomy 162 (already listened to 161), Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, Podictionary Weekly, and Grammar Girl as well as producing my own Hebrew gaming podcast and listening to my co-host's history podcast (in Hebrew).

Hi folks

I found this thread when searching in Google for 4e Multi-classing. Gotta love those GoogleBots.
I hope I am welcome to interject my thoughts. If not, stop reading and have a moderator delete my post.
This thread has been very enlightening for me, because it reflects many of the emotions I have felt about 4th edition.
I am 48 years old and have been playing D&D since its inception in the early 70s. Actually, I started off with Chainmail… but I digress (us old folks do that).

When I flipped through the pages of the 4e PHB in Borders Bookstore, I remember saying “My God, what have they done? They are making D&D into a table-top video game.” My 15-year old daughter (also a player and DM) came up and asked, “So? What do you think?” I put the book back with a huff and said “It sucks; they royally screwed it up this time.” Well, my birthday was in August and my two sisters (non-gamers), bought me the 4e PHB and DMG. They had spoken to my wife who said I didn’t have them – she didn’t know my feelings on the subject. Being a good brother, I graciously accepted the gifts with the intension of returning them for something else. Well, I never got around to returning them and they sat on my bookshelf.

Over Christmas break, my son came home from college and his best friend from another state came to stay with us as well. Both of them are gamers – I taught them both to play AD&D when they were 10 (the age when you can game in my household). They wanted to play some table-top during break and asked me to run a game. As we were talking with my wife and two other friends that we haven’t gamed with for months, everyone wanted to play 4e since most had gotten the PHB for Christmas or before. So I agreed to give it a try – completely against my personal desires, but for our children, we often do things we don’t want to.

The first session was completely frustrating. We spent from 6 PM to midnight reading over the rules, discussing them, scratching our heads and complaining. But eventually, they ended up with a completed character each. Interestingly enough, my 10-year old other daughter (first time gamer) grasped and picked up on the concepts much faster than us veterans, which somewhat validates a comment that I read about “4e appears to be easier to learn than 3.5”. We muddled through and from midnight to 3 AM, we role-played and got the adventure started. We had fun then, because role-playing is role-playing and it is not dependent on a game system. Since we were on breaks and vacations, we all agreed to play again the next night.

The next session was supposed to go from 6 PM until about midnight so we jumped right into the adventure. We were all sill trying to figure out all the powers and combats seemed to last forever because we were having to read the powers and figure things out as we went, like Bursts, Blasts, Concealment, Combat Advantages, Healing Surges, Action Points, etc. We finished up exhausted about 2 AM. But, we agreed to try it a couple more times the next weekend before we completely washed our hands of the system.

Since I had a few days, I did some research about the lack of skills, like Crafting, Perform and Professions. In my research, I learned that it appears that the 4e System is completely focusing on the Adventure part of D&D gaming and the campaign specific stuff like background skills was intentionally left out. At first, this upset me because I am all about the campaign. But then I got to thinking that it was a pretty smart move on WoC to do this. It allows them to concentrate on balancing the Adventuring part of the game and whoever does the campaign material (WoC, another company or a DM) to focus on balancing the other part of the game (RP, Background, social classes, economics, etc).

The other obstacle we ran into was not knowing all the powers and what they did. We didn’t want to have to be reading from a book all night long. It takes away from the game for us. So we had the idea of cards (like baseball cards) that had the powers printed on them for quick reference. Surely, someone had done that already. After some research I found the D&D Insider and the Beta Version of the Character Builder Tool The coolest thing about this tool is that it prints out the power cards for you so you don’t have to keep the book open all the time. It also cleared up some confusion we had when building the characters by hand. I completely recommend this tool as long as it is available for free (not sure how long that will be).

The next weekend, we planned to play from 6 PM to 2 AM and we continued the adventure. This time it was a load of fun. I cannot remember the last time we all were on the edge of our seats with players looking for the right actions to keep the level-3 kobold boss and his entourage from destroying the party. The combats were much more colorful and dynamic with all the different options. Not the typical; move five feet to avoid an attack of opportunity, swing, hit - possible crit, second roll – no crit, roll damage, next person in initiative order mill.

I think the biggest improvement is the wizard. The wizard was an actual and integral part of each encounter (several per game day). Not the Mage Armor, Magic Missile for 1d4+1 and “Hey Guys, I am done with my spells for the day, I can only use the light crossbow now.” Playing a low level wizard is now fun. We ended up playing until 5 AM and all went home or to bed laughing and commenting about the antics of the night. It reminded me of days of old, something I have not experienced in a while.

The next night (yes, 13 hours later) we eagerly met again to finish up the adventure - our last session before we go back to work and school and I had some surprises in store for them. Once again we had a great time and things went even more smoothly and faster pace. I was able to finish up the adventure including my surprise hook into the next adventure and everyone was on their way home by 1 AM.

I know this is a long narrative, but it illustrates that I am a long time lover of D&D 3.5. Before that, I loved AD&D and fought the 3.0 changes. Before that, I hated the AD&D changes from the Expert Edition and so on. Now that I have honestly tried it (four good sessions) I think it is a good system. It isn’t 3.5 though and I don’t see converting a 3.5 campaign to 4e. It also has shortcomings, but what system doesn’t. I can honestly say that I will continue playing it and I am looking forward to developing and running another regular campaign. Something I haven’t done in a few years.

As for multi-classing (the intent of this thread), if you read the article entitled Character Concepts by Peter Shaefer in Dragon Magazine #365, there is a build in there called Germaine the Fighter-Mage. I think you will see that even though is isn’t what we think of as traditional multi-classing, it is a fair and balanced way of merging the ability of two classes and can result in some very unique combination.

BTW, the Barbarian, Bard and Druid are coming in PHB2 along with some other classes and races - they are not gone. Keep in mind that WoC is a business first and they are marketing their products in the best way to make a profit and support the gaming culture. But to them, the money has to come first or there will be on WoC and not products for us. If you were the owner of WoC you would most likely feel the same way.

Once again, sorry for my long windedness, I just felt that I should share.

Urlord (AKA Jim)

Thanks for sharing, Urlord.

Hi Urlord. I'm sure you are very welcome here.

You know, I've recently had a bit of an epiphany about 4e. I now realise that 4e has taken D&D back down the path of simply being the specialised game it once was - focusing on fantasy-flavoured dungeon and wilderness adventures with an emphasis on combat rather than trying to cater for a sweeping all-singing, all-dancing, simulationist/naturalist campaign.

The 'grand milieu' was where Gygax wanted the game to go when he took OD&D and Blue/Red Book 'Basic' D&D and broadened its remit, giving birth to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It was 'Advanced' because it wasn't just about dungeons, it was about world-building. I am still in awe of his ambitions laid out in the AD&D DMG. Reading that book made us all as DMs want to build a whole world, to be that 'Renaissance Man' Gary talked about as being the ideal DM.

Today we live in a fragmented long-tail marketplace full of specialised niches, and 4e D&D aims to fill one of those niches, by focusing on a small set of core values. In many ways this narrowing-down process began with 3.0/3.5e. That game still aspired to satisfy Gygax's vision, but often did so clumsily and half-heartedly. A lot of the non-combat mechanics in 3rd edition have a rather awkward, inflexible, and (frankly) *untested* feel to them, and are usually based around feats that nobody is likely to bother taking (eg in the RAW you need to take a feat to be somebody's apprentice, or to be a mentor to an apprentice, or to be a guild member, and if you want a henchman you need to take a Leadership feat - which also, at the same time, causes a bunch of low-level vagrants to turn up on your doorstep expecting to be fed and housed).

Nevertheless, I found these issues forgiveable because that system fixed so many of the big game-balance problems that earlier versions had, particularly with the mechanics of multiclassing. The other great thing I love 3rd edition for is that it put monsters into the same framework as player characters - see the monster progressions in 'Savage Species' or 'Draconomicon' and you'll see what I mean. It's like a Grand Unified Theory of creature development that lays to rest the idea that some creatures can only ever be 'monsters'.

4e appears to have narrowed the remit of the game even more, and in a sense returned it to its origins - retreated from the sweeping campaign world-building back into the dungeons and the wilderlands again, except with a stronger narrativist emphasis than the original game (look at 'minions' and you'll see what I mean).

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, if it's what you enjoy playing. When I first started playing, I was absolutely happy to roll up a character and take them down some unexplained hole in the ground and duff up some monsters - though more often than not it was the other way around - life was harsh and unforgiving for dungeon crawlers back in the 70's, eh ;-) Was I wrong to enjoy it? It didn't feel wrong.

Jim, there's a subtext to your narrative. It actually reads less like an endorsement of 4e and more like a celebration of how great it is to be playing with some young, fresh and unjaded players who still have that sense of wonder about it all. Maybe 4e was an enabler of that - maybe it had more of a contemporary 'coolness' factor that appealed to them more than 3rd edition would. Maybe, as you say, the mechanics were simpler and easier for them to learn.

Personally, for a variety of reasons (mainly my existing, long-running campaign that won't readily convert), I'll be sticking to 3rd edition for the foreseeable future. But I wish you well in your gaming and look forward to hearing more from you here. Keep us posted on how the game develops.