What does a 4e DMG2 offer to a 3.x player? Part 2.

For the first part, go here.

In the previous post, I introduced the book, my initial feelings, and covered chapters one and two. This post will be shorter as there is little to nothing that a 3.x DM can use in the following chapters. As stated in my first post, however, that there might be something that a 3.x player would find useful, and I believe that I should cover it for 4e fans as well. We may play different version, but we all love DnD!

Chapter Three

This chapter is all about the skill challenges, and offering alternate rules and suggestions on how to run them. The chapter seems well written, and for those who love skill challenges, I’m sure that this portion of the book will come in handy. I really can’t comment on skill challenges since don’t use them in 3.5. There is something that bothers me about them.. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. I would like other people’s opinions on skill challenges and how they utilize them and if they are something worth incorporating in a 3.5 game…

Chapter Four

This chapter deals with altering monsters and creating your own. I like the templates and how to create interesting and difficult encounters. I have made it clear that while 4e isn’t my preferred game, that I don’t outright hate it. To me it is a personal choice, like eating meat as opposed to being a vegan (and no this is not a simile that 3.x has more “meat,” than 4e). One thing I will say about 4e that I really enjoy is the monsters (for the most part). I think that monsters are easier to manage with their powers labeled out the way that they are as opposed to 3.x.

Chapter Five

Mostly has magic items and rewards are in this chapter, however on page 161 it starts getting into Organizations. How to create them, their motivations, and power struggles, etc. There is very interesting info in these few pages.

Chapter 6

The final chapter of the DMG 2 focuses on Paragon campaigns. This is something of a blessing, from what I understand, for 4e players. Many players and DMs complained of lack of adventures or guidance during this stage of play. The ideas, even though for 4e, can serve as inspiration for 3.x DM’s as well.

Final verdict: While chapter one and two are well written and offer the most for a 3.5 DM, I don’t feel that the book is worth the cost for just those two chapters. The first two chapters, I really did enjoy reading, but they do not offer anything revolutionary or novel, to me.

However, I do think that the book would be great for 4e DM’s. It has a fountain of information that will enhance their games, make their lives easier, and offer possible new insights to a blossoming game or starting DM.

What I want: If there is such a thing, by all means comment and let me know.. I am looking for a book on Advanced DMing/DM Theory. I have hopes that the Pathfinder GameMastery Guide will provide deeper insight, but I’m not placing high hopes (this is not a knock against Pathfinder, because I believe that the game is amazing).

I just want a book that really goes in-depth with the intricacies of DMing, out of the normal that seems to now be the staple topics that are covered in the DMG and DMG2. So if you know of such a book, by all means, let me know! Thanks!

Author: wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

7 thoughts

  1. I haven’t had much success yet with skill challenges in 4e, but I chalk that up to lack of experience, and poor encounter design (related things to be sure.) However, I’m still working on them, as I think the idea has a lot of potential. With the greater range and specificity of skills in 3.5/Pathfinder, I would think skill challenges would be a great fit.

    Careful construction and presentation would be necessary as always, but getting players to solve problems creatively means you have to give them environmental cues that are more subtle and varied then a room with a monster in it, or a thin wire stretched at ankle-height across a corridor.

    There’s no reason that a chase scene, a wilderness trek, or a negotiation couldn’t be run as a skill challenge in 3.5.

  2. I agree with what you are saying Anarkeith. I know that skill challenges are nothing new. Honestly anytime you have a player roll (in any system) a diplomacy or perception or knowledge, etc it is basically a skill challenge.

    I guess it is the labeling it as a whole mechanic that kinda bothers me. The one thing that the DMG2 (4e) does state about failing skill challenges is that it is now a complication, like from Mouse Guard, rather than outright failure. I do like that aspect.

    I run skills and etc as challenges already, I guess one thing that worried me about 4e skill challenges when I first read them in the core books was that unless they are well constructed they can quickly become convoluted.

    1. I think skill challenges become a mechanic when you treat them as a series of skill checks, as opposed to calling an individual check a challenge. I think what WotC was trying to do was codify the design process (which they did poorly in 4e DMG, but improved on in 4e DMG2, IMO.)

      Just as 4e combat encounters consist of different types of foes (with differing roles), a skill challenge presents numerous obstacles which can be overcome by judicious application of skills. The key here is that the players have to figure out what are the best skills to apply. Just as they can figure out that a monster has a low Will, and so is susceptible to Will-based attacks, and avoid using their Fortitude-based attacks against it because it is correspondingly strong there.

      Calling for a History check to cross a log bridge over a ravine might be justifiable (history of bridge construction and/or geometry might yield some info about the structural integrity of the log), but an Acrobatics check would be better. However, the sign posted next to the log in an ancient script (that happens to warn about the Snipe waiting in the ravine for its next meal) would require a History check. And meanwhile, how about a Nature check to determine whether or not the gouges in the log are axe marks or claw marks? Combining those checks makes it a skill challenge. As a DM I have to facilitate that, and get my players to start asking some of those questions. And I can do that whether we’re playing 3, 4, or Pathfinder for that matter.

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