Things to Keep and Lose from 4th Ed: Non-Mechanical Edition

Posted on August 21, 2012 by


In one of my last posts, I expressed my particular issues with with the game I have been playing for the past few years. The majority of that is based on the mechanics of the system, e.g., healing surges, encounter powers, and magic items. There is a considerable amount of mechanics I both loved (simplified monster charts, monster levels, etc…), and a considerable amount that I grew to loathe (Daily item powers, item and feat taxes, rangers, etc…). But as we all know, Dungeons and Dragons is far more than a collection of rules; it has an aesthetic to it that sets it apart; a world full of familiar races, monsters, and spells.

Some people choose to play in the worlds Wizards has provided: Eberron, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms. My group and I have decided on our own home-brewed world which we titled Feladain. However while the cities, people, and lands are of our own invention, we use much of the monsters, cosmic canon, etc… of the books, so the changes from 3rd to 4th, and then to Next, have and will affect our world. Of course, whatever we don’t like, we don’t have to use, but this is what I have enjoyed most, and least, in the world of Fourth Edition.


1.The Cosmic Order

I absolutely love the changes Fourth Edition brought with the cosmos. The multiverse has always featured heavily in my games: The first game I ever DMed was a planar one, in 3.5. My fourth edition games have dealt with The Far Realm, the Shadowfell, and, for almost the entirety of the last game, The Plane Above and Sigil.
I was never crazy about the Great Wheel; to me it always felt overly complicated and cluttered. Fourth had the brilliant separation of the Planes Above and Below, and gave us a grand Dawn War to go with it (something my last game was very much about). The Shadowfell felt very much like the classic realm of death, and the Feywild may have been my favorite part of it; finally we had the realm of Fairy, so long a staple in fantasy, but not D&D. The idea of Demons and the Abyss being a tainted part of the Elemental Chaos makes a lot of sense to me.

2. The Gods

This ties directly into the cosmic order, and is another improvement on the mythos of the world. The Raven Queen is a far more compelling god of death than Wee Jas, Avandra is vastly superior to Yondalla, (though I am biased: Avandra featured heavily in our last game), and Ioun is better than Boccob, in my opinion. I love the trio of Correllon, Lolth, and Sehanine. Torog is really fun and creepy, and I’m glad for the promotions that Bahamut and Asmodeus got. When I told Kyle about Asmodeus’ deification he said, “Finally! Guy’s been trying to be a God for three editions, I’m glad he finally got it.”

I do miss St. Cuthbert, but 90% of that is the mustache

On a related note, I love what they did with Angels being extensions of the Gods’ will, with alignments and personalities in line with their gods.

3. Elven Racial Distinctions

The Elves and Eladrin. This was one of my favorite things too, the further distinction of High-Elves and Wood-Elves. That Eladrin were mystic fey creatures, and Elves their long-lost cousins that were more primal and earth-based, really vibed with me in a way that High, Grey, Forest, Wood, Wild, Water, etc… never did. The Drow fit in perfectly with this too, and the echo of this with the Elven God Trio was graceful and symbolic.

On the subject, I enjoy Driders being a reward (an image of their god, after all) rather than a punishment, but I accept that I am unique in this amongst my group.


1. Tieflings looking like Buffy villains, Devas looking like the Genie from Aladdin.

Admittedly, I did grow to like the Devas more than I did when the PH2 was released, but I’ve never gotten over what they did to Tieflings. I like my Tieflings to have fiendish ancestry which gives them the occasional devilish trait, which is more or less difficult to hide, depending on the individual. I don’t like them to look like rubber-faced Buffy monsters, as my friend Adam called them. On that subject, the whole idea of cursed civilization instead of just individuals with fiendish blood is stupid.

Such a charismatic face!

Devas as angels made flesh is kind of awesome, but I’m not sure I like them more than Aasimar (though the name is better). The idea of angel touched individuals can exist in the same realm as Angels-made-flesh, I suppose… Honestly I could see the Devas continue, and I could be happy with a return to a counterpart to the subtler Tiefling design. But I will not allow these ridiculous looking tieflings in my games.

2. Dragonborn, Shifters, Shardminds


You’re a reptile. Stop having breasts.

3. Distinction Among Mindflayers

One thing I liked, mechanically especially, was the variations among monsters. If you were fighting Kobolds, you could easily have stats, all on one page or two, for the grunts, the archers, the elite guards, and the Kobold Shaman. I really like that. But they gave Mindflayers multiple types as well. I actually didn’t realize how stupid that was until Kyle pointed it out to me. There is one base type of Mindflayer, and then a few mutations that are occasionally worshipped/killed. There are not sneaky Mindflayers. There are not assassin Mindflayers or soldier Mindflayers. There are just Mindflayers: Imperious, tyrannical, proud, and completely insane. Their uniformity is part of their horror.

Pictured: Two Mindflayers, One Asshole.

Kyle was right, again, and Gods I hate that.

Posted in: Game Talk