4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 8: Adventuring

After the awfulness that was the magic item section, we resume our readthrough of the new Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook.

The first section is “Quests.” These are the new way they’re factoring adventures, into multiple “quests,” where a quest has a goal and a reward. It refers to the DMG for more, but I don’t really like the MMORPGey feel – a player can propose a quest for the DM to vet to get a “stake in the campaigns’ unfolding story.” Maybe it’s grumpy grognard-itis, but I don’t recall my characters needing specific rewards offered to “find my mother’s remains in the Fortress of the Iron Ring.” I’ll withhold judgment till DMG readthrough time.

Next, they discuss encounters, artificially separating them into combat and noncombat types. This seems like an odd artificial distinction to me, but is apparently because the DMG has separate rules for “skill challenges”.

Experience points. They cap out at 1 million (30th level). Same deal as in all previous editions otherwise. Except that when you level you go “ding”, glow with yellow light, and immediately go to max hit points. (No, not really.)

Then they introduce the “milestone” – if you complete two encounters without an “extended rest” you get an additional action point and an additional use of magic item daily powers. Sure, it’s computer gamey, but you’re used to it by now if you’ve gotten this far.

Treasure. Here’s an example of why these new rules are rubbing me so much the wrong way.

When the time comes to divide your treasure,
parcel it out as evenly as you can after paying for group
expenses. Sell or disenchant magic items that no one
wants, and add the value to the monetary treasure
you found. Then, you can approach the distribution of
monetary treasure in one of two ways:
1. Divide monetary treasure evenly among all the
party members.
2. Divide monetary treasure among only the characters
who didn’t get magic items.

This isn’t cast as a suggestion. “You do it one of these ways.” It’s hard to take this as anything but dumbing down of the rules. Sure, you can ignore it, but would it have hurt them to say “this is a suggested way for a party to handle treasure” or the like? I *have* to play computer games by the rules contained therein. But RPGs are about the flexibility.

Now you get to the traditional miscellany of adventuring. Movement, lighting, breaking down doors, etc. All seems fine.

Resting is broken up into two standard types, the “short rest” and the “extended rest.” Short rests are 5 minutes and renew encounter powers, extended rests are 6 hours and renew daily powers (the old “sleep overnight” equivalent) and ALL your hit points! There’s no such thing as a multi-day wound in 4e. I can’t say I totally like that.

And that’s that. Not too bad, I’m mostly grumpy because of the accumulated weight of things from previous chapters annoying me.

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One response to “4e PHB Readthrough – Chapter 8: Adventuring

  1. I flicked through the PHB at the weekend and it seems you’re right; it has become a gamey-game with no attempt at being an rpg in which you imagine the characters as people in a fantasy world. I don’t know whether it ‘sucks’ or not, but it’s clear it’s no more D&D than RuneQuest Slayers was RuneQuest.

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