For one, although 4e PCs have roles within the party, 4e PCs are far less reliant on Henchmen, Hirelings, Toadies, etc than in previous editions. There are some classic dungeons that I simply would never enter without some Meatshields. In 4e, that is almost unthinkable; there is a whole generation of new DnDers that won't even know what you are talking about. I have put some new Henchman and Hireling rules out there to try and get a bit of this flavor back in the game (the full text and treatment will be in the mag, and this has been one of my most popular posts). Anyways, Retainers are a critical component of maintaining a Stronghold. It seems the lack of good Retainer rules in 4e helped keep Stronghold rules from developing.
Lastly, the default economy of 4e doesn't support Stronghold rules. In "vanilla" 4e, the amount of money PCs find scales with their level, the reason for this being the need to purchase magic items to keep pace with expected enhancement bonuses. So you run into a lot of issues. If a player has to choose between keeping his basic numbers up to stay effective, or a little tower to call his own, you cannot fault him for buying an item. I mean, the game is telling him to. You also have issues when you try to assign a cost for building a Stronghold. The cost might be completely prohibitive until a certain level...but soon after that level, it becomes too cheap and insignificant. This is where I struggled the most when trying to come up with ideas. It seemed the only way to remedy the situation was by completely revamping the 4e economy. How could this be accomplished? As long as players need items to keep pace with the system, they will always need increasing amounts of cash. That is when the answer hit me-inherent bonuses.
I don't know if this has any of your wheels turning, but I have three words for you: "Random Treasure Tables". How about two more words: "Treasure Types". Yes, I can bring back random treasure, treasure types for monsters, taxes, long-term Retainer pay rates-everything. I can bring it all back. And do you know the best part? I don't have to really do much work at all. Since the weird self-inflating 4e economy is no longer needed, I can just go back to old prices. Old item lists. Old treasure tables. Old Stronghold prices. I will have to do a few tweaks of course to make it my own, but I honestly think in the end that it won't be all that different from OD&D. Almost word for word.
So yeah. I never thought I would say it, but I freaking love inherent bonuses.
Part 2 on this series coming soon! As always, I would love to hear thoughts or ideas!