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D&D 4e: One Change, One Addition, & One Deletion

I have been running two 4e campaigns, and while I enjoy the system it certainly is not my favorite. Combat tends to be longer than other games that I enjoy, and while one of 4e’s strengths is its tight rules system I find it limits my creativity as a GM in some cases.

I am now ready to start adding the house rules to my games. Once you have played a game several times and know the rules there is nothing wrong with modifying a system so that it is a custom fit to your group. What would you house rule in 4e? If you were to make one change, one addition, and one deletion to the rules what would they be?

Here are mine:

Change: Encounter powers should not be just once or twice per encounter, but instead the number of times an encounter power can be used should increase as players level up. Example: A 1st level encounter power should be able to be used 4 times by a 4th level character. This sort of thing makes a game more enjoyable and tends to speed up combat in my opinion.

Addition: Healing surges should be a form of game currency that players can spend like fate points and other meta game tools used in other systems. Example: Blow that roll on your big bad daily power? Spend a healing surge to get a re-roll. The advantage is that the players have a little bit more power over the game, but they increase their risk as healing surges are not recovered until PCs take an extended rest.

Deletion: Skill Challenges. Ditch them. No example needed here. The updates have fixed some of the problems with Skill Challenges, but I just have more fun when the group forgets the rules for many of the moments that Skill Challenges were designed for and we just role play the scene out.

These are my suggestions, and you may agree or disagree, but keep in mind that I am suggesting these changes for my groups and my style of GMing. I don’t expect them to work for everyone.

That said, what change, addition, and deletion would you make to the 4e rules? Leave your comments below, and remember that the GM is a player too! Have fun with it!

31 Comments (Open | Close)

31 Comments To "D&D 4e: One Change, One Addition, & One Deletion"

#1 Comment By frostryder On March 27, 2009 @ 11:00 am

Change: How often does a 3rd level encounter power get used by an 8th level character? 2? I think this might be overpowered, although I can see how it would speed up things. Do you apply the change to monsters as well? Maybe an idea would be adding a recharge system in for some powers, or something, for players?

Addition: It seems to me like you’re making healing surges into action points, kind of. I wouldn’t do this, but it’s just my opinion 🙂

Deletion: I’m not surprised by this one, it seems to be the most lamented portion of D&D 4e 🙂

Interesting ideas 🙂

#2 Comment By deadlytoque On March 27, 2009 @ 11:02 am

I’m iffy on the scaling encounter powers. Does that mean a 30th level character could use his encounters 30 times per day? If so, then what value do at-wills have at higher levels?

I’m with you on healing surges as in-game currency. I like to use them to settle binary problems that could otherwise become boring extended rolls: “Oh, you flubbed the climb check? Well, OK, spend a healing surge and you reach the top after some delays. No point making you roll ten or twelve more times.” I even allow this in combat, because it encourages players to do dramatic things (swinging from chandeliers, jumping over pits) even if their characters are likely to fail, and I am a slave to the Rule of Cool.

Skill Challenges as written (even with the corrections/revisions) are lame. Something more like the combat system (or Spycraft 2.0’s amazing chase system) would’ve been great in its place. A system where characters gets access to Powers just like the ones they have for combat, but for non-combat situations. Granted, when you think of all the dozens of things that might be covered, it gets complicated (infiltrations, interrogations, investigations, chases, etc.). But Skill Challenges are too easy to fail at low levels, and require way more GM prep than their payoff is worth, especially when compared to RPing. So I don’t know that I would propose a deletion; I think a massive re-write of the system would be good, especially since “hand-holdy” systems for things like that are really helpful to new players.

#3 Comment By robustyoungsoul On March 27, 2009 @ 11:48 am

No to all three, but like you said I think that is style.

#4 Comment By Sarlax On March 27, 2009 @ 11:50 am

I’m also skeptical about the benefits of the encounter power change. Does this mean Level / Day? Or level per encounter? The latter seems pretty insane, especially given that most fights are over in less than 10 rounds. At level 10, rather than 3 encounter powers per fight (which is about 1 encounter power every other round), you now have *30*.

Even if it’s just per day, that still seems like too much. What was once a semi-precious resource that required some strategy is now cheap. IE, no more, “I have to make this Fireball count” decisions. I except it will also have unplanned synergies with feats the enhance powers. For instance, feats that boost damage for energy types. These are balanced because a wizard/sorcerer/etc. might be benefiting from the feat on a third of his attacks – but with the new rule, every attack he makes will get the advantage.

I suppose I could be reading the houserule wrong. Do you mean that every time one’s level goes up that the uses associated with that power increase by one? IE, a 5th level character uses is E1 power 5 times and his E3 power 3 times? That’s not so over the top (but still getting there). However, it introduces a whole new level of book-keeping that 4E has otherwise done such a great job of eliminating. This effectively brings back daily spell slot rules, but now every class needs to deal with them.


Healing surges as currency isn’t a bad idea, but it might have ripples. If surges are being spent to grease the wheels before hand-waving, the tougher character get the advantage.


I don’t like some things about skill challenges either. The system seems like a way to “combatify” roleplaying and puzzle scenes, but it features less choice than a fight. For instance, in a noble court scene, the players might be first said to make Diplomacy rolls to introduce themselves, Insight to figure out who is on their side, Intimidate to make the malicious noble back down, etc.

My problem isn’t with the rolls, it’s with the possible structure. The DMG’s example of players negotiating with the duke is actually pretty good – the players make the kinds of rolls they want and the DM gives bonuses or penalties as appropriate.

The Urban Chase, though, is more rigid in its description. The players make X rolls of Y skill to succeed or fail. You can throw the stats into a random number generator to determine the outcome. It doesn’t allow as much room for clever ideas, like using powers to coordinate, create distractions, etc.

I think rolling in a roleplaying scene is helpful, because it allows ineloquent players to have characters who are stronger than they themselves are socially.

I don’t know if the skill challenge change is meant to eliminate rolls for encounters or just ditch the rigid structure. If it’s roll elimination, and thus all talking scene are worked out without dice, be aware that the players are either going to get really good at physical skills (because there’s no point in getting training for Diplomacy if it’s all fiat), or they get burned for having trained in skills that never get used.


I’m not running a 4E game, but there isn’t much I’d change is I was. Our group has tweaked action points by giving them new uses as well as changing when they are obtained.

The new uses include spending them to recover expended Encounter and Daily powers. We have only played a single session, but I might guess that recovering Dailies could be too strong. We’ll see. Recovering encounter powers, though, seems just right. We got some good use out of that, but it’s a tough choice – is using an encounter twice as good as gaining an extra action? – and the tough choice signals balance to me.

We also changed the milestone recovery. Rather than defining a milestone as two encounters without an extended rest, milestones are significant plot points. The rate should be comparable, but it helps cut down on metagaming for points.

Our DM also awards action points for cool moments, great roleplaying, etc. I think we saw two such points go out, so they aren’t excessive, but it feels great, and it’s a good way to reward individual excellence without unbalancing the party via different XP pools.

Finally, at the end of every session, there’s a floating “Golden Point” that’s given out by the players as a whole to one player of their choice, for any reason. It could be roleplaying, coming up with an idea that saved the day, or as a reward for tracking the loot. The golden point has the special quality of never expiring – you still have it after an extended rest.


We might come up with more as time goes on, but I don’t think any of us, players or GM, are itching for big changes.

#5 Comment By Matthew J. Neagley On March 27, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

Encounter powers:
If your players follow the leveling proceedure to a T, they shouldn’t end up with too many encounters and dailies lower level than they are due to re-training. Of course, what is optimal and what players DO often are a good bit different. What I’d be interested in hearing after you play with your house rule for a bit is how it alters effectiveness. Is a player who re-trains and has one-use bigger powers more or less effective than one who has 3-4 uses of encounter powers several levels lower than their level? I suspect that the power difference between any two given powers a few levels apart aren’t a lot different, so that lagging 4-5 levels behind in your power selection is going to make a very powerful character, while anything beyond that point will be pointless sacrifice for extra uses you’ll never get around to using.

Healing surges:
I think that’s more or less what they’re intended for, but WotC went with the ease of “Yeah yeah, whatever, have some HPs so you can get a few more smacks in and shut up” Only problem being that exacerbates an existing problem: combat is long and can be boring once the “gee-wiz” is used up. I like what you propose here. Interested in seeing how it works for you.

Skill Challenges:
I still feel these are more or less guidelines for DMs and that players with jackass DMs can use to justicy that their DM stop being said jackass. Any GM comfortable without them and whose players don’t request them, should feel free to discard them

#6 Comment By LesInk On March 27, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

@Sarlax — swiping the idea for a “Golden Point”. What a simple and really useful idea that isn’t over powering and encourages players to do their best.

I’ll leave alone Patrick’s power/encounter issue for others to debate (but, for the record, I think thats too powerful) and stick to the Add/Change/Delete question.

So, here’s my ACD list:
Change – I like the idea of skill challenges (standardized way to solve a problem with an XP reward that is not combat), but I can’t seem to get them to work “by the book”, so I’ve pretty much have given up and have gone to a standard role playing situation (players talk, they roll dice, outcomes are decided) — which is what I believe was the real meaning of the system. IF and ONLY IF they are in combat, will we even bother with turns and initiatives. Declaring that the players are in a skill challenge is definitely out — they’ll never know.

Delete – Minions. They’re a distraction to the combat system and I find them more work sometimes than standard creatures. I know the logic and they’re all and good at low levels, but I might as well just have a low hit point creature and follow one common set of rules. Plus, I never know if I should announce to the characters which creatures are minions or not for both strategic (instant area spell target) and role playing reasons (mass number of creatures scaring the party … oh, they’re just minions). In the end, the ‘no roll for damage’ gives it away quickly — if they’re still standing.

Add – Nothing. There is already too much going on with a zillion 1 turn effects (especially at higher levels) and the variety of powers. But I’m open to ideas to make combat go faster while STILL providing an adequate challenge (quick over simplification: halve a creature’s hit points, but double its damage — mathematically, its the same threat).

#7 Comment By Patrick Benson On March 27, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

Lot’s of great feedback guys, but I feel that it is mostly commenting on my own suggestions. I am really interested in hearing more about what others would do with the system.

But since it has been brought up so much, the multiple uses of an encounter power would have to have some of the math worked out beforehand. The reason I think that I and my group will go with something along those lines is because 4e combat and progression is beginning to feel boring to us (one group more than the other). We’re trying to find ways to address that, and we’re looking at encounter powers as one way to do that.

So what are others thinking of changing?

LESINK – I think minions are a great part of the game, but I can see your point. It always comes down to your style and what your group wants out of the game play experience.

#8 Comment By super rats On March 27, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

As for my experience with skill challenges, at first I hated them, but they’ve grown to be one of my favorite 4E tools. Once the group is used to them and understands the concept, I basically let them tell me the parameters of the challenge — how they plan to solve this problem, what they are doing, etc. All I do is set the bar and determine victory and defeat conditions. When I do my session notes, I just write down “Party escorts the pilgrims through the woods to the rendezvous point while evading pursuit. Compexity 3. Victory = they find a place to safely hide the pilgrims, double back, and set up an ambush. Defeat = the soldiers ambush them.” If they don’t die, they still make their ultimate goal of getting pilgrims from point A to point B, the skill challenge alters how it happens. The intended combat changes tone depending on the skill challenge.

I do most of them on the fly (PCs like to avoid some problems by creating new ones), decide how hard I want it to be, indicate the problem they face. They provide the solution parsed via the skill challenge system. Once in a while, someone thinks of something that just instant wins and I end the challenge. It’s fairly open and I like it as a formal assistance with DM hand-waving.

Anyway, as far as campaign mods I’m using:

-Monsters at 1/2 hit points.

-Extended Rest recovers 1 healing surge, but everything else resets normal. We rarely do dungeon crawls, so this ads some fear of death, and strategy for choosing battles to fight. This also balances taking fewer attacks since monsters are at 1/2 HP and have fewer attack opportunities.

-Ditched the parcel system. Just couldn’t stand having monsters carry gear that’s totally useless to them, but exactly what the PCs want. I now use a system where players still get what they want, but makes sense in fluff terms. Gives players a bit of certainty with their gear.

-Action Points are awards for stuff someone does that’s really cool. It’s a non-permanent kudo that has the awesome benefit of speeding up combat.

#9 Comment By AlasseMages On March 27, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

LESINK – I think I disagree as well. I love my minions. If your players go “Bah, that’s just a pile of minions,” then trick them up by throwing the odd elite creature that’s identical to the rest. Alternatively, use higher level minions and overwhelm the PCs. Sure, a fireball just took out half of them, but the rest of them just took of half of the tank’s HP! They’re perfect for setting up a flank for sneak attack monsters.
I guess the biggest reason I’m adamantly against taking them out is that fighting 5 monsters every single time gets boring.

My house rules? Well, I’m liking the surge rules, but it does have a problem with tough characters being unbalanced. Is there some other kind of currency the player can use? Spend an encounter power when they fail a skill check to succeed it with awesomeness? That gets a bit too costly. I’ll have to ponder this.

#10 Comment By xinpheld On March 27, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

[1] – maybe you could consider making it one action point to renew an encounter power, and two or a daily, that way a character would have to have hit a milestone and be ‘on a roll’ per se to get access to such a boon.

#11 Comment By xinpheld On March 27, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

I’m not sure how I feel about the multiclassing ‘system’ they have in place. It really feels like they put that in because they thought they had to. I can see the reasoning of having a character that has some sideline interest in another skill set, but it’s another thing when a character has some revelation mid career that directs him or her to another calling. What happens when a thief wants to end her unlawful ways and join the clergy? What if a warlord learns his father was a wizard, an decides to honor him by taking up the practice himself?

Not sure what I’d replace it with, though. Maybe it’s just that I’m too used to the old-style multiclass system.

#12 Comment By Sarlax On March 27, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

One change that I might examine would be the use of dailies for powers and magic items. A major goal of 4E was to eliminate time increment management, but daily effects mean that players have to watch those, play the hold-it game (“I can’t use Flaming Sphere because the next giant frog could be even worse), and metagame resting to restore powers.

I don’t know if there’s a good fix for it. The strength of dailies is such that you shouldn’t simply give them out all of the time. Is there another way to use them? Here are some thoughts:

– One free daily per “day” (day being a period between extended rests), but you can use it again in other encounters, but doing so burns an encounter power at the same time, and you still can’t do it more than once per encounter.
– A daily can be used more than once, but each additional encounter in which it is used imposes a penalty on checks; maybe -2 on all rolls until a milestone is passed.
– Extra uses of a daily exact a toll on the PC. The PC must be bloodied, and the extra uses automatically brings them to -5 HP.

#13 Comment By Sarlax On March 27, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

[2] – Regarding how to change the multiclass system, I think there’s an easy fix – ditch the power swap feats.

Here’s the idea: Once you take a power swap feat, you still level in your actual class normally, but when you retrain, you can change a power from your first class into a power from your new class. IE, I start as a rogue, but learn something of the arcane. At level 4 I take Arcane Initiate. At level 5, I retrain the rogue power Bait and Switch and make it become Color Spray.

If you buy the idea that powers of the same level are roughly equal, then this houserule should pose no problem. Multiclassing becomes more attractive, but it’s still not ideal, since a multiclassed character only has so many points to spend on stats, it’s hard to find feats that help two classes at once, etc.

It might dissolve niche protection a bit. If it’s implemented, I would guess that PCs would multiclass to take powers that complement single stats – the fighter takes all the Strength powers, Wizards take all Intelligence powers. Still, it doesn’t change much because most class powers are based on a single stat. Ironically, this change might again make Ranger the favorite dip class (because it has Dex and Str powers).


Another way to multiclass would be to ignore the feat rules entirely, and say that the player just picks his new class. When he levels, he gets powers from the new class, and that’s it. If he retrains, he must retrain into a feature of his new class. To prevent this system from being gamed too much, one might impose a penalty on the use of all powers from the old class. IE, the rogue to wizard has a -1 to all rolls for rogue powers he still knows because he is out of practice with them now.

#14 Comment By Lord Darkmoon On March 27, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

First, I’m from Spain, so please excuse me for my poor grammar.

In my games, the players can spend a healing surge to recover a used encounter power, as a free action, no more than one per round and you can’t recover a power you has spent this round.

In fact, the rule works pretty well, as in our games the encounters are level+1 or enven +3, and few encounters poer session (no more than one or two per day)

#15 Comment By The_Gun_Nut On March 27, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

I like the idea of using healing surges to recover encounter powers. You could set a limit per day similar to the magic item use per day (1 at tier 1, 2 at tier 2, etc.).

I’d like to see some way to magically increase attributes. Given that the only way to ensure that your character’s attack powers require an attack roll in the range of 9 to 12 (the range WotC seems to have been shooting for) is to maximize your combat attribute and divide the remaining points however you can, a means of increasing attributes feels necessary for those characters who’s players didn’t min/max them.

For example, a player in my 4e game plays a paladin, a class that is greatly aided by multiple attributes granting a significant bonus (+2 or more). His highest attribute is a 16 after racial bonus. This gives him significant staying power (con is good), good initiative (dex is decent), his attacks from secondary characteristic (charisma) is as good as his primary (strength), and he has multiple uses of lay on hands. Unfortunately, his paladin misses a lot. Frequently. Since he didn’t maximize his primary combat attribute (strength), instead of needing a 9 to 12 to hit typical foes (weak to tough), he needs 11 to 14. Being on the back side of the coin flip really hurts the players (not the character) because he doesn’t feel as useful as those who focused more on their combat attributes (the player of the ranger did, and is therefore much more useful in a fight).

How about a ritual, that can be used only once each tier, that grants a +2 bonus to a single attribute? Make the cost of the ritual go up each time it is used (to get a greater bonus). Since it is an unnamed bonus, it stacks with itself. Or, have three different rituals, the first one grants a +2 inherrent bonus, the next a +4 inherrent bonus, and the third a +6 inherrent bonus. Make each ritual cost appropriately for each tier, and available as a level 6, 16, and 26 ritual. If the player wants to switch out the bonus on one attribute to another attribute, have it replace the effects of the previous ritual so that no character can benefit from multiple attribute increases.

(The levels mentioned are just an example, the ritual levels could be just about anywhere for each tier, but I think putting them here makes the most sense.)

To prevent a character from maxing out their primary combat attribute and then using the ritual to boost it even higher, put a cap on the amount the attribute can be increased. Make the maximum at the different tiers be the maximum they could achieve if they focused all their starting points on their primary combat attribute: i.e. 22 for tier 1, 25 for tier 2, and 28 for tier 3.

This would allow players to spread their allotted points out however they wanted, but still grant them the combat ability that 4e is so focused upon. It also makes multiclassing more attractive, as often the different attribute requirements makes multiclassing a sub-optimal choice. (Often, the multiclass would be in one of the healing/leader classes, to gain the extra healing power for the party which does not require a robust combat attribute.)

#16 Comment By dmscorpio On March 27, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

Deletion – Skill Challenges.
I’m a veteran of the two previous editions, but most of the people I have played 4e with have been brand new to pen and paper roleplaying. The skill challenge system is great for introducing them into the rp aspect of the game, but the dependence on rolling to succeed a rp encounter is something that seems to stifle creativity in the long run because it encourages the players look at their character sheet to find the answers to the problem before them. With an experience group of roleplayers, I find this system to be completely superfluous.

Change – “Multiclassing”
I’m not sure how I’d actually go about doing this, but I think I would start with how the Paragon Paths are designed to be the main way to achieve multiclass results and take it a bit further. Perhaps at 11th level, if a character truly wishes to multiclass, they give up their Paragon path. Instead, the character chooses their two multiclasses, selecting one as primary and one as secondary. From then on, whenever they are supposed to select a class power, they select a power from their primary class list, and whenever a paragon path power is given, they select a power from their secondary class list. For instance, a character plays a cleric for the first 10 levels, then at 11th, the player chooses to multiclass as paladin. If the player selects Paladin as a secondary class, then he can select a paladin power whenever they would get a paragon power. However, if the player wants to switch Paladin to their primary class, then they gain paladin powers whenever they get their regular class powers and they can swap out their cleric at-wills for paladin at-wills, following the usual rules for swapping out powers.
Come epic levels, though, I’m not sure what to do. Perhaps continue only getting powers in whatever they selected as their primary class.

Addition – ???

#17 Comment By Rafe On March 27, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

This is a toughie as I’m not really into 4e anymore since I’d have a crapload of changes, very few deletions and few additions.

Addition: Add a Belief and Goal for each character, significant steps towards which (or acting on, in terms of the Belief) give spend-on-any-check action points which aren’t lost after an extended rest. Or maybe I’d go with adding +1 attack bonus every level, +1 damage bonus every other level (a la Star Wars Saga).

Change: Skills. Break those damn things out a bit. I have a love-hate relationship with skills. I think there ought to be more, including craft, perform, etc. Also, alter how they advance as I find it way too static and… well… sucky.

Deletion: Not really sure about this one. Maybe toss out Dragonborn as I find they kinda clash with the other races. I might actually do away with experience completely and use a progress-as-appropriate model, or at least eliminate the current combat-only focus.

#18 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On March 27, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

I think the “Healing Surge As Action Point” will negate the need for the “Recharging Encounter Power” addition if you allow Healing Surges to be spent for re-rolls. In other words, if your Big Power hits regularly (because you re-roll the misses), why do you need more of them?

And the Skill Challenges are okay; instead of killing them off entirely, I’d just ignore them in almost all cases. I could definitely see the party getting stumped by some challenge (social, skill, puzzle, etc) and allowing them to do a Skill Challenge to get past it.

#19 Comment By Rust On March 27, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

I would add an Environmental Effects to the combat, so combats don’t get dull. And have adventures more like scene based computer games, where you jump quickly and inevitably to the next combat scene.

I agree with you, Skill Challenges can be removed without much trouble. Do it Grognardia style, and that could be really fun.

The games is a miniature tactical battle game, and feats spent on skills to improve skills challenges mucks with the balance when the miniatures come out. 4e is just a great little tactical, mini-combat game, but weak at everything else.

#20 Comment By Taellosse On March 28, 2009 @ 6:59 am

I am about to begin the first play session (we built characters last time) of my first 4e game in a few hours, and I now must resist the urge to implement all of these at once. Every one of them appeals to me. But I shall refrain, although keeping them in mind for future consideration, until everyone has a handle on how the rules-as-written operate in the wild. The encounter powers getting re-used in an encounter as you get higher in levels one won’t matter much right off anyway, since everyone is level 1 right now.

#21 Comment By LesInk On March 28, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

[3] – Thanks for the idea of using minions in some different ways. And to be clear, yes, I am still using them here and there, I just don’t like them. I just don’t like ‘tricking’ my players to use encounter powers on a foe they could have taken down with a simple dagger basic attack. The flanking is the best part of having minions. And, as heard or read somewhere, if a minion occupies a hero for one turn, they’ve done their job. I just find it jarring.

However, with that said, I find it just AS easy to bring in other monsters of lower level, use their powers, track everything like normal monsters, and balance it out with the XP buy system. A group of 1st level kobolds can still do plenty of damage to a higher level 5th-7th level party.

Side note: I did see someone build a Improved Minion template that basically plays just like a normal minion, just that you have to hit them twice to knock them down. I think they did a Master Minion two that made it 3 times. Not sure if that really solves alot, but an interesting point of expansion.

#22 Comment By PerilousDM On March 29, 2009 @ 8:16 am

The 2 4e campaigns I’m DMing I’ve tried to keep as By The Book as possible, since all eleven players are as new to the rules as I am. But I am thinking about this subject a lot!
Change: So far, all I’ve wanted is to restructure the Actions In Combat to make some things take longer; e.g., make retrieving stored items a Move action instead of Minor. I have also changed the Orc Drudge (or is this an addition?) to give them a saving throw to negate the first damage they suffer, making them last longer as minions with minimal bookkeeping.
Addition: I’ve been thinking hard about a “Lingering Injury” mechanic, to make getting hurt a less temporary experience. Something along the lines of Conditions that act like diseases, and take 1+ extended rests to recover from. These injuries could range from penalties to attack/damage, to restrictions on actions (no run/charge, no off-hand weapon, etc.), or reductions in total healing surges.
Deletion: This is tough; 4e has such streamlined rules, there’s little fat to trim (unlike 3e). I can’t think of any mechanics I would eliminate, just certain character options – and all of those from PH2 – that don’t fit my campaign setting.

#23 Comment By Bravemaximus On March 30, 2009 @ 6:26 am

I have to say, I was not all that into 4e when it first came out. I didn’t like the way combat felt, I didn’t like the way the books look (they still look and read like crap), and I wasn’t happy with how complicated/hard/time consuming it was to make encounters (finding 5 creatures that work together is harder than finding one creature). However, I’ve come around. The books are easier to look something up in because you know where it will be. The making new monsters/npc formulas are quick and easy (once you get used to it). And once I realized that it’s ok for my monsters to completely hose my players just with its at-will powers I’m ok with combat (my players aren’t anymore…).

And I know you guys are going to hate me for this, but I love skill challenges. I have to adjust the DC’s a bit, but I love skill challenges. They provide a real, concrete, balanced XP reward for roleplaying. I think that’s a bonus to the game. It’s not even close to perfect, but it makes points in Insight and Diplomacy worth it. My other favorite part is the Treasure Parcels. I’ve always given my players rewards that they actually want, but this system keeps it balanced and makes it really easy to keep them on track. Screw “double treasure”. I don’t miss 3.5 treasure at all.

So, here’s my changes:

Add: Double Minions. I LOVE the minions system (I actually had similar house rule in 3.5 after reading 7th Sea). But it seems like 4 minions are not worth the XP of a full monster. So I put 6-8 minions in for the rewards. Works great, and the PC’s get to kill lots of stuff.

Change: Skills used in Combat. We noticed that the one guy trained in Thievery and the one guy trained in Arcana were spending most of their combat time making skill rolls as a standard action instead of enjoying the game. So, we made these skills in combat (to disable traps, for example) move actions. Now, they can either spend their whole round trying to disable the trap, or they can disable and still use a cool power. Maked the game much more fun.

Delete: Points of Light. I don’t know about everyone else, but a world full of darkness where every village keeps to itself sucks the fun out of roleplaying. My personal setting puts 4e into a late medieval period, almost ready for the renaissance. Much more trade, lots of cool local color, and the PC’s have the chance of meeting someone from another town they know. If it was points of light, every merchant gets eaten by roving packs of drakes and ogres. Way less fun.

Anyway, those are my changes.

#24 Comment By argokirby On March 30, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

Skill challenges is easy, you as a DM can just choose not to use them, so that is easy.

I like the encounter power idea, but how does it work for higher level encounter powers. Say a second level power at 4th level. you can use it twice?

The healing surge thing is cool, but it is hard to mitigate, the DM suddenly gets to tell you if you can or can not do what you want with a healing surge.

*** So I suggest eliminating and combining. How about you can choose to spend a healing surge to re-activate an encounter power.

*** Also I think every encounter you should get an action point, the way the rules are is that every other or every third encounter is a mile stone, and you get an action point back, so its like you get 1 AP every other battle. Why??? Just call the AP an encounter power and then you can blow a healing surge to restore your AP as well.

*** So now you could spend two healing surges to get a second “second wind.”

What do you think?

#25 Comment By LesInk On March 30, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

This is a little bit off topic, but since this thread keeps talking about skill challenges and has slowed down a bit, I want to put out a suggestion: can some please show us their skill challenges in action in the form of a video (post on youtube.com or similar site)? I’ve always been surprised that with all the talk about skill challenges, I’ve never seen one recorded as video on the Internet. Please correct me if I’m wrong. It might even be worth a contest for some good acting. Heck, maybe it might start Gnome Stew on a video blog kick.

#26 Comment By Starvosk On March 30, 2009 @ 2:23 pm


So far I haven’t really had to houserule anything. The only thing I can see possibly being warranted is orb of control abuse- given the right items and stats, you can inflict a -10 penalty to someone’s saving throw. If that’s not wicked broken, I’m not sure what is.

#27 Comment By Lord Inar On March 30, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

We haven’t implemented these yet, but we were toying with adding that for daily and encounter powers, they are not spent if they don’t “hit” , so you never have to worry about missing with your big attack by one and then relying on daily for the rest of the encounter/day. After all, you already missed your attack, that’s bad enough!

The other was to reduce HP as well, but if you allow the power to be accessible until used, this might be less necessary. I’m not sure though. The excess HP seems to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to me. Almost feels like a throwback to “bruising your opponent to death” and I only see it getting worse as you go up in levels.

We didn’t do any skill challenges at all. Like some other posters said, it just never came up.

#28 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On March 30, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

For what it’s worth, most Daily Powers (at least the higher level ones) still do damage and some kind of effect on a miss…

And I haven’t seen a video or audio of a Skill Challenge, but there are a couple of examples here:

#29 Comment By robosnake On March 31, 2009 @ 8:18 am

One Change: Healing surges become just Surges. They can be used like healing surges in the rules as is, but you can also spend them to add 1d6 to a d20 roll (like Action Points in 3.x) and to add a damage die to any attack (of whatever die type you’re already rolling)

One Addition: Add character level to all damage rolls. My friend ran an epic-level delve that we wrote up and it was downright tedious because the monster (a Tarrasque attacking a city Godzilla-style) had so many hit points. He ended up shaving lots of them off so the delve actually ended in a timely manner.

One Deletion: The necessity of using a battle map. I’m still working on house rules to do this, since its written into the system, but I just want the option of having some kind of fight that doesn’t require counting out squares for every action – say, for example, PCs fighting a Tarrasque as it lays down a swath of destruction in a city, toppling buildings onto them and eating bystanders. I don’t want to have to take four hours and have a 20 foot square battle mat to draw it out ahead of time…

#30 Comment By robosnake On March 31, 2009 @ 8:22 am

Another option for a Change: Alignment. As written in 4e, there’s no reason whatsoever to use it in a given game. It’s just…stupid. They actually took ‘classic’ alignment and made it worse. I’ve used a character’s main motivation as their Alignment and have given out extra action points when they achieve something that furthers their Alignment – that’s gotten mixed results. But anything is better than Alignment as written in 4e, including Deletion…

#31 Comment By xinpheld On March 31, 2009 @ 9:55 am

@sarlax and @dmscorpio: interesting ideas both, and might work. my problem though, is that if you multiclass at a higher level and swap out a primary power with a new secondary, then suddenly you’re up to that character level in something you just learned. For instance, take the thief turned wizard you presented. If he multiclasses at 4th level, should he be able to cast that color spray at 4th level ability even though magic is brand new to him? that doesn’t sound right to me. same with the paragon path switchout idea – a brand new power from a new class should not suddenly be functioning at 11th level ability.

I think maybe a revamping of the old system might be applicable – having a separate set of XP for each class. If the thief gets to 4th level and decides to start spellcasting, a new set of data would be generated.

Anything that would apply to both classes (HP or saving throws for instance) would result in using the better of the two classes. For instance, the thief/wizard shouldn’t have to make a lesser reflex check (due to level bonus differences) because he was doing something wizard-based at the time. Any skill bonuses due to class would be the better of the two. Any actions that could be done as either class that would result in XP gain, (basic weapon attacks, for example), would cause the XP to be split between classes.

Anything that doesn’t overlap classes would be added to the character at that class’ level. XP accrued from an action that could be only done by a single class (picking locks, casting spells, class-specific skills) would go to the total for that class.

Yes, it’s more work, but the work would mostly be done by the player, and they’re asking for it by wanting to multiclass, anyway. This is just a rough idea, so any input would be awesome.