How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

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How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Big Mac » Wed Nov 09, 2016 6:16 pm

I've been told that the Rules Compendium has all the 4e rules, with errata included, but how does the book compare to earlier versions of D&D? (I am thiking of the Classic Rules Cyclopedia and the 3rd Edition: Rules Compendium, but there might be other similar books I'm not aware of.)

Is it possible to run a 4e game with just this book? It that what it was intended for, or does it perform a different function?

How useful would it be for helping me understand 4th Edition content that I want to try to retro-convert to 3rd Edition?
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Zeromaru X » Wed Nov 09, 2016 7:23 pm

The Rules Compendium nullifies the necessity of the DMG and other rulebooks. You still needs a player's book (such as the PHB or the "Heroes of...") and a monster book, but the Rules Compendium is really useful in 4e, and that edition had a LOT of errata.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Tim Baker » Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:31 pm

To put it another way, the Rules Compendium is primarily a reference book. It's clean and well laid-out, and is filled with the mechanics needed to run/play 4E, all in one convenient location. As Zero mentioned, this is especially helpful considering it contains the errata, which was significant in 4e. I'm not sure I'd classify it as a substitute for any other book. The DMG offers a lot of advice and a fair amount of setting-specific information, for example. That's not the job of the Rules Compendium. If you had pre-generated character sheets and an adventure that you wanted to run, you could run it with the Rules Compendium. But if you want to create your own characters from scratch or build encounters with various monsters or traps, you'd need additional books.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Big Mac » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:30 pm

Thanks for the answers.

From what Tim said, I'm wondering if the book would fail on my second point:
Big Mac wrote:How useful would it be for helping me understand 4th Edition content that I want to try to retro-convert to 3rd Edition?


My main motivation for trying to work with 4e now, is to be able to understand it enough to convert 4e-specific monsters (associated with settings like Spelljammer) to 3e. And to be able to convert Nentir Vale to 3e (and use some - probably not all - of the 4e rules as campaign setting specific rules in a 3e game).
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Zeromaru X » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:54 am

If you want to understand Nentir Vale stuff, you should buy the Heroes of Fallen Lands and Forgotten Kingdoms books, because those are the books that have lore; plus the Monster Vaults (the two of them) for specific monsters of the Vale, or how generic monsters are depicted in the Nerath world.

Beyond that, the Nentir Vale is a generic world. Beyond the core assumptions of the setting (the last great empire has fallen and the next great kingdom is centuries away, there are no unifying nations in the world, and civilized lands are points of light in the dark wilderness) no special rules exist beyond those in the core books (as demonstrated by the 5e conversion of races and gods related to the Nentir Vale in the 5e core books). The only section in Rules Compendium that have lore stuff, is the one that talks about the world and the planes beyond, but if you already have the first 4e DMG, you already have the information you need.

Alternatively, you can just read the introduction of my gazetteer (Points of Light on a Big, Dark World). I summarized the feeling of the Nentir Vale setting in that section.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Tim Baker » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:11 am

Big Mac wrote:Thanks for the answers.

From what Tim said, I'm wondering if the book would fail on my second point:
Big Mac wrote:How useful would it be for helping me understand 4th Edition content that I want to try to retro-convert to 3rd Edition?


My main motivation for trying to work with 4e now, is to be able to understand it enough to convert 4e-specific monsters (associated with settings like Spelljammer) to 3e. And to be able to convert Nentir Vale to 3e (and use some - probably not all - of the 4e rules as campaign setting specific rules in a 3e game).

The Rules Compendium would be pretty tough to read cover-to-cover. It's a reference book, and you might have a hard time even knowing what to look up if you're completely new to 4e. I'd suggest picking up one of the inexpensive 4e Essentials players book as a starting point (e.g., Heroes of the Fallen Lands). That will explain the 4e terminology in a way that's more approachable. If you still have questions after that, I'd be happy to point you toward another book. Once you understand the basic rules, the Rules Compendium is a handy volume to refer back to when you need to look something up.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby agathokles » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:25 pm

But if the main point is converting monsters, perhaps the rules compendium might be more efficient. The other books deal only with PCs, and in 4e PC and monster rules are different (which is not so much the case of 3e).

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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:35 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:If you want to understand Nentir Vale stuff, you should buy the Heroes of Fallen Lands and Forgotten Kingdoms books, because those are the books that have lore; plus the Monster Vaults (the two of them) for specific monsters of the Vale, or how generic monsters are depicted in the Nerath world.


...and...

Tim Baker wrote:The Rules Compendium would be pretty tough to read cover-to-cover. It's a reference book, and you might have a hard time even knowing what to look up if you're completely new to 4e. I'd suggest picking up one of the inexpensive 4e Essentials players book as a starting point (e.g., Heroes of the Fallen Lands). That will explain the 4e terminology in a way that's more approachable. If you still have questions after that, I'd be happy to point you toward another book. Once you understand the basic rules, the Rules Compendium is a handy volume to refer back to when you need to look something up.


Thanks.

I have Player Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Player Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms on my radar now.

I guess that, if players are going to play in a game, the options they would need would be in both of those books. So if any race any class is missing from 3e (or different in 3e) they would be the books to look to for inspiration for retro-conversions. And if those races and classes have any other sort of option that is missing from 3e, those books would explain what might need to be retro-converted.

(I hear about stuff like "healing surges". I'm not totally sure how they work, as I don't play 4e, but I'm guessing that a "healing surge" could be replicated in any other edition of D&D.)

agathokles wrote:But if the main point is converting monsters, perhaps the rules compendium might be more efficient. The other books deal only with PCs, and in 4e PC and monster rules are different (which is not so much the case of 3e).


That's true.

In 3rd Edition, a large number of monsters have a Level Adjustment and are therefore available for use as PC races (if the GM wants to include them as options).

I have heard this thing about 4e monsters not being run the same way as 4e PCs. So I guess that a different sort of conversion process might apply. :?

Zeromaru X wrote:Beyond that, the Nentir Vale is a generic world. Beyond the core assumptions of the setting (the last great empire has fallen and the next great kingdom is centuries away, there are no unifying nations in the world, and civilized lands are points of light in the dark wilderness) no special rules exist beyond those in the core books (as demonstrated by the 5e conversion of races and gods related to the Nentir Vale in the 5e core books). The only section in Rules Compendium that have lore stuff, is the one that talks about the world and the planes beyond, but if you already have the first 4e DMG, you already have the information you need.

Alternatively, you can just read the introduction of my gazetteer (Points of Light on a Big, Dark World). I summarized the feeling of the Nentir Vale setting in that section.


I don't have the 4e Dungeon Master's Guide. I've bought a few 4e books, but as I have no intention of ever playing 4e (only learning about Nentir Vale or using 4e books in my 3e games) it's been one that I've been avoiding.

Is the 4e DMG more useful for learning about Nentir Vale than the Rules Compendium?
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Zeromaru X » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:12 am

Is the same, really. The first 4e DMG, the Dungeon Master Book (from the Dungeon Master's Kit) and the Rules Compendium have the same information about the World of Nerath, though the former books have updated info on the setting. If you have none of those, you should get the DMG just because it describes the city of Fallcrest. Or, if you can afford it, the DM's book, because the info is updated (and also have more detailed info on the Nentir Vale).
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Tim Baker » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:51 am

Big Mac wrote:I hear about stuff like "healing surges". I'm not totally sure how they work, as I don't play 4e, but I'm guessing that a "healing surge" could be replicated in any other edition of D&D.


Implementing mechanics such as healing surges in other editions is possible, but will have an impact on play. The D&D Next playtest went through several iterations to try to get a mechanic that was similar to healing surges in 5e -- the number of iterations hints at the challenge of adding this mechanic to a version of the game that's closer to 2nd or 3rd Edition than 4th. It's possible that someone else has done this work for 3.x, so you may want to do some Googling. If you come up with a solution of your own, I'd be interested to see it. :)

Big Mac wrote:I have heard this thing about 4e monsters not being run the same way as 4e PCs. So I guess that a different sort of conversion process might apply. :?


In 4e, monsters are closer to those found in 2nd Edition and prior than they are to 3.x. Monsters in 4e don't receive feats, for example. They aren't built using rules like those for building a PC. Monsters have a level, which is similar to older editions' hit dice, and their stats are self-contained. In other words, you never need to flip through books to find the spells that are referenced in a monster's stat block. Any spells are listed right there to make things simple for the DM.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Tim Baker » Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:44 am

Big Mac, this video does a nice job of summarizing the Essentials line, why it was created, what products were in it, and how it was compatible with the rest of 4e.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Big Mac » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:23 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:Is the same, really. The first 4e DMG, the Dungeon Master Book (from the Dungeon Master's Kit) and the Rules Compendium have the same information about the World of Nerath, though the former books have updated info on the setting. If you have none of those, you should get the DMG just because it describes the city of Fallcrest. Or, if you can afford it, the DM's book, because the info is updated (and also have more detailed info on the Nentir Vale).


I'm a bit confused by this.

Are you saying that Dungeon Master's Kit is better than Rules Compendium, but neither contain Fallcrest and that the only source of Fallcrest is the original 4e Dungeon Master's Guide? :?

It seems to me, that if that is what you meant, that it would not be possible to buy just one of these books (unless I wrote off Fallcrest).
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Big Mac » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:35 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I hear about stuff like "healing surges". I'm not totally sure how they work, as I don't play 4e, but I'm guessing that a "healing surge" could be replicated in any other edition of D&D.


Implementing mechanics such as healing surges in other editions is possible, but will have an impact on play. The D&D Next playtest went through several iterations to try to get a mechanic that was similar to healing surges in 5e -- the number of iterations hints at the challenge of adding this mechanic to a version of the game that's closer to 2nd or 3rd Edition than 4th. It's possible that someone else has done this work for 3.x, so you may want to do some Googling. If you come up with a solution of your own, I'd be interested to see it. :)


My gut feeling about this is that (unless you are playing an Eberron game) the monsters/NPCs mostly get the same stuff as the PCs in 3rd Edition. So if the PCs get healing surges, the monsters would get them too. (Or perhaps healing surges could be restricted to sentient creatures, so that only some of the monsters get them too.)

Tim Baker wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I have heard this thing about 4e monsters not being run the same way as 4e PCs. So I guess that a different sort of conversion process might apply. :?


In 4e, monsters are closer to those found in 2nd Edition and prior than they are to 3.x. Monsters in 4e don't receive feats, for example. They aren't built using rules like those for building a PC. Monsters have a level, which is similar to older editions' hit dice, and their stats are self-contained. In other words, you never need to flip through books to find the spells that are referenced in a monster's stat block. Any spells are listed right there to make things simple for the DM.


I've heard it said that this was one of the improvements of 4e. At the risk of making the 3e monster entries even bigger, I'm guessing that things like spells and abilities could be added onto the end of the stats. Perhaps a 2e Monsterous Compendium style (with every monster having it's own GM made PDF would be the way to compile the rules for each monster) would be the way to avoid book flipping. (I suppose that is what things like HeroLab are supposed to be for.)
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Zeromaru X » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:36 pm

Big Mac wrote:I'm a bit confused by this.

Are you saying that Dungeon Master's Kit is better than Rules Compendium, but neither contain Fallcrest and that the only source of Fallcrest is the original 4e Dungeon Master's Guide? :?

It seems to me, that if that is what you meant, that it would not be possible to buy just one of these books (unless I wrote off Fallcrest).


Fallcrest is described in both, the Dungeon Master's Book and the original 4e Dungeon Master's Guide. The DMG have more detailed info on Fallcrest, but it lacks the updates to the setting and its description on the rest of the Vale is not as extensive. The DM's Book has a more "lite" approach on the city of Fallcrest (it lacks a few npcs and plot hooks), but it have updated info and makes up with detailed info about all the Nentir Vale.
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Re: How does Rules Compendium compare to previous editions?

Postby Tim Baker » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm

Big Mac wrote:My gut feeling about this is that (unless you are playing an Eberron game) the monsters/NPCs mostly get the same stuff as the PCs in 3rd Edition. So if the PCs get healing surges, the monsters would get them too. (Or perhaps healing surges could be restricted to sentient creatures, so that only some of the monsters get them too.)

While that would probably follow the design patterns of 3.x, I think it would result in combat becoming a complete slog. Every monster (or at least humanoid) would be able to heal itself in combat, which would make things drag on and on.

Big Mac wrote:I've heard it said that this was one of the improvements of 4e. At the risk of making the 3e monster entries even bigger, I'm guessing that things like spells and abilities could be added onto the end of the stats. Perhaps a 2e Monsterous Compendium style (with every monster having it's own GM made PDF would be the way to compile the rules for each monster) would be the way to avoid book flipping. (I suppose that is what things like HeroLab are supposed to be for.)

It would need to go beyond simply printing the spell descriptions at the end, although this might help. 4e monsters are more compact. The DM has less info at their fingertips. For example, there's seldom a non-combat spell-like ability in a 4e monster stat block. There are no feats for monsters. So you get this streamlined representation of the monster that's basically intended for combat purposes. The MM has extended information on other monsters that would work with this type of monster and various types/levels of this monster (orcs might show up as low-level minions through paragon tier bosses, for example), so that's not to say the only information available is for combat, but the part that the DM needs to refer to regularly, and the part that is reprinted in adventures is just this slimmed down, combat-focused content.
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