D&D 4E – New Tricks

Wizards started showing previews of their up coming book Adventurer’s Vault today. The book is described as having “Hundreds of new weapons, tools, and magic items for your D&D character” which sounds pretty nice from a DM’s perspective.

The most interesting thing for me was the preview of the wondrous item, Bag of Tricks.

The Bag of Tricks was always a neat little bag of summoning in 3.x (and possible before that, I’m not that familiar with magic items pre-3.0) that gave you an animal to command for a short amount of time. When I saw this as a preview I was a tad confused since it seemed they were trying to get rid of summoning spells and such.

Still, it was there and it indeed still summons an animal. Essentially you need to give up a standard action to summon the animal but you can then use minor actions to command it each round. They only showed the stats for one such animal (which are all minions so the enemies could potentially flatten them with one attack) and it was from the weakest version of the bag.

In 3.x my party had two of these bags and my wife liked to use them when she could. However, they were hardly ever all that useful and more often than not the other players would talk her out of using the bag because it would not benefit the party enough.

One player getting more actions than the other players, or multiple players getting more actions than a single player is not just a problem in D&D 3.x. This problem comes up in a lot of games and probably deserves its own post at some point. For example, while the Shadowrun 4.0 rules are some of the best rules I have ever read there was some griping about the handling of extra actions. Only one player in the group did not have a way to get extra actions and thus in combat situations he got to do a lot less than the other players. Admittedly if I had handled Drones better this would have been less of a problem (I really didn’t get how they were intended to run at first) but watching one player take several actions and destroy a whole slew of enemies while you are waiting for your second turn is not a really fun way to spend a Saturday and I think all games that plan to use an extra action system need to be very careful about how they implement it.

In 4E it often feels like the players are better able to make their own decisions in combat without worrying constantly about a party wipe, so using the new Bag of Tricks seems a bit more viable. While the item is not broken by any means, it certainly seems useful in that it can help with flanking, gives you something to do with your (often wasted) minor action, and can absorb at least one attack from the enemy.

I like this take on summoned creatures and hope that eventually there is a summoner class who can summon minions to the field. I understand that one of their concerns with this is allowing one player to control several minions (pets, constructs, or whatever) gives that player more actions than the other players and can detract from other’s enjoyment. I really don’t see this as being as much of a problem as Wizards seems to but it certainly can get a bit carried away.

So, go check out the article and then wait patiently (or like me, not so patiently) for the book to come out!

    Joe Says:

    What are you talking about?
    I LOVE extra actions!

    Seriously though, I understand how it can get broken. One thing in D&D 3.x that evens it out a bit (excepting Druids and other super summoners) is the Leadership feat. It allows any player of any class to get cohorts and followers that can grant a player extra actions. To spread it out even further, many DMs made cohorts have separate initiatives, thus making it possible that other players can go in between a singel players many actions.

    ojiepat Says:

    As the whiny player mentioned in the sidebar, I need to say that, my problem wasn’t that the other players got the extra action, it was that the enemies did. As it turned out, I was usually opening doors during our firefights, as we were usually running away, and what was frustrating was that I could get shot by the same guy 3 times for each try I got to work on my ongoing job of opening the door.

    But really, I would sit there for 3o minutes, just to roll once for opening a door, it was rather boring…. by the end I had gotten enough money and favors to buy a second action, so I would wait 15 minutes between rolls. 😉

    my next character will know how to use drones and will use explosives to open doors…. and will have extra actions.


    To be fair, most of the griping came from Tom as he felt the whole extra action system was broken.

    With ranged weapon fire there is the added problem that a bad guy could take two bursts with one action (pretty sure that’s how it works) and then two more when their next action comes up.

    In my defense my bad guys rarely had WR II or WR III but several did have WR I simply to make them competent.


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    D&D 4E – New Tricks – Gaming News & Views – Pair O? Dice Games


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    D&D 4E – New Tricks – Gaming News & Views – Pair O? Dice Games



    D&D 4E – New Tricks – Gaming News & Views – Pair O? Dice Games