Game of Choice

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Game of Choice

Matt has decided to run a D&D adventure for his kids, but now comes the hard part - which edition to play?

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Me and Dungeons&Dragons broke up awhile ago, we tried to stay friends but after seeing it in the hands of others I just couldn't take it anymore, we wanted different things out of gaming and we both knew it and could barely stand the sight of each other, thus we both went our separate ways.

Since then D&D has changed a great deal, it has shed the cumbersome crunch of 3.5 and replaced it with a shiny veneer of clever combat mechanics whilst removing what little narrative support elements it had. The result was a brand new D&D that was faster and smoother than it's old self. Unfortunately, I was still unimpressed, especially since I'd been hooked up with D&D's more interesting middle sibling Star Wars SAGA Edition whom gave me what I needed despite some neglect from its parents, Wizards of the Coast.

However I have recently been dragged back to D&D by some friends, reacquainting myself with D&D's strange clone Pathfinder, and while I must admit that Pathfinder is a better time than 3.5 ever was, it still has most of the same problems of the original. Thus I find myself longing after the refined Door Kicking, Stuff Taking, Monster Killing machine than D&D has become, instead of the bloated Pathfinder beast that now holds me in thrall.

In brief, if you want to play "Dungeons and Dragons" I cannot think of a better way to do it than by playing 4th Edition.

I'd recommend either 3.5 or 4. The rules are faster, the math is transparent, and the archetypes fit the common MMO archetypes closer than older versions. 4 is most likely best to start right now, since you won't be gambling on overstock to secure needed rule sets.

Resist all temptation for Basic, AD&D or 2nd ed. Those hellish times when THAC0 lent us a chilled hand...

All good suggestions but I would go with Palladium. It's the most versatile and it's probably got one of the easiest sets of rules to grasp... for a versatile rpg: like if they want you to make it high-tech, involve super-heroes, involve mutants, or anything else.

GonzoGamer:
All good suggestions but I would go with That Game System. It's the most versatile and it's probably got one of the easiest sets of rules to grasp... for a versatile rpg: like if they want you to make it high-tech, involve super-heroes, involve mutants, or anything else.

You're kidding right? That Game System only makes sense if you beat the rules with a hammer until they work. I played it when I was 14, thought about going back to it, took one look at the rules and nearly had a heart attack! Woefully Unbalanced Character Options, a confusing as hell battle system and nearly meaningless skill choices with a very cumbersome Percentile System.

It's like a "How To Guide" of bad rules design.

Besides, the column author already knows of a system that does what That Game System does better than That Game System it's called Savage Worlds, and it is awesome.

SaintWaldo:
I'd recommend either 3.5 or 4. The rules are faster, the math is transparent, and the archetypes fit the common MMO archetypes closer than older versions. 4 is most likely best to start right now, since you won't be gambling on overstock to secure needed rule sets.

Resist all temptation for Basic, AD&D or 2nd ed. Those hellish times when THAC0 lent us a chilled hand...

3.5 and 4 are faster then Basic, AD&D or 2nd ed? We can practically run an entire dungeon in Basic/Expert in the time it takes to finish a decently sized fight from 3rd or 4th edition. While I will agree that new tabletop gamers familiar with MMOs will pick up and identify with the concepts of 3rd/4th possibly easily then earlier editions.

I know everyone like ragging on THAC0, after 100+ hours of Baldur's Gate I still didn't understand what it was fully, but after playing in a Basic/Expert game for awhile now I really don't see why it gets so much grief. It's certainly no more complex then attack roles + untold number of modifiers seen in later editions.

I think Matt put it quite well, and I believe this statement applies even in the realm of the editions of a single game.

Arguably, these other games are better games than D&D, although "better" is a slippery word. They may be better for some uses, or some groups than others. They may play faster, or be more realistic, or be more innovative.

I played a little AD&D when I was in junior high, and found it quite a nice way to waste a saturday night. Unfortunately, I was always the DM. I had the best grasp of the game mechanics and no one else was willing to take the helm, so the job was mine. To this day, I've always thought sitting in on an expertly run game of AD&D would be an unforgetable experience. Your children are lucky, and I hope they enjoyed the experience.

Meh.
Don't underestimate how smart a kid can be or what they can comprehend. Of course, you know your kids better than I do... but 3.5 isn't really that much more complex than 4e. Just a different kind of complexity.

Personally, I've found you can't really go wrong with FUDGE.

But then I was brought up on original Basic D&D, back when you were only an elf when you elfed!

And I still love ThAC0.

The_root_of_all_evil:
But then I was brought up on original Basic D&D, back when you were only an elf when you elfed!

I would say that I miss the days of Elf being a character class but I'd be a total liar. AD&D 2nd Edition will always be my edition of choice, but if I had to choose between the later editions I think I'd have to go with 4th.

I never agreed with exception-based game mechanics being a positive feature in the 3.5 to 4th edition switch. Its easier to learn and functions well at first but the more content that is added to the game the more exceptions get placed on the very basic core system. As time goes on this accumulation of exceptions creates situations where the system starts contradicting itself and unintentional combinations of abilities start breaking things. In games like M:TG (which I've been playing for 8 years) this is only kept to a minimum by restricting the use of cards older than a given point in the release schedule and D&D isn't the kind of game that will work with. Given how much content WotC obviously plans on releasing for 4e we are going to reach the point in this edition that we reached in 3.5 when there was too much published work much faster. Sure as a DM it should be your job to filter what content does and doesn't end up in our games but lets be honest, some DMs don't always have that much control over there player base.

4th Ed... would be fine if it didn't have tieflings and Dragonkin as basic races.

SaintWaldo:
I'd recommend either 3.5 or 4.

You... do realise that by now, he's already chosen, right? Hell, he's also -run- his game. Your reasons are good, but... little late, aren't we?

TsunamiWombat:
4th Ed... would be fine if it didn't have tieflings and Dragonkin as basic races.

I fail to understand how that is a significantly detrimental quality of 4th Edition.

PedroSteckecilo:
[...] whilst removing what little narrative support elements [Version 3.5 had over 4th].

What narrative support elements were there in 3.5?

I've found that the formalisation/re-formalisation (I was never too knowledgeable of 3.5) of Skill Challenges has made out of combat encounters much easier.

Indeed, Dungeon Master Guide 2 for 4th edition has -heaps- of storytelling and story-writing support and information. More than I've ever seen in a single place, in fact, not that I've looked especially hard.

This supports my general idea of DnD - the DM comes up with the story, and simply implements it within the provided rulesset. 4th edition allows you to simulate almost any given combat, or noncombat challenge, based on the rules provided in PHB1, DMG1 and DMG2, with the help of any number of MM books.

What did 3.5 do that 4th didn't do, here? I'm really curious, because I know a vast number of people seem to prefer 3.5 to the "simplified" 4th.

You can talk about easier/harder games, but I think 4th is a better fit for new gamers. Simply put, while a 3.5 character is an Adventurer, a 4E character is an Action Hero. The entire system is based around kicking ass and looking good while doing it. 3.5 is grittier in comparison (while still being fairly low in realism).

My group still plays both systems, as they scratch different itches. The big 3.5 advantage is that there are a lot of "reskins" out there to change the feel of the game without needing to learn another ruleset. (Two that come to mind are Arcana Evolved and Iron Heroes, from Monte Cook).

I take your point about dead games - I still run and play a lot of dead games simply because of rule familiarity, and how well some of these games introduced great new ideas to the game. For example, my group recently unearthed a long-lost copy of the Marvel Superhero game and, you know what? The basic ruleset is a lot of fun, and makes for a really colourful and rules-light game night.

My only issue with D&D, ultimately, is that in any edition it tends to struggle hard to suppress the innate storytelling desire inside every player. The player, and kids especially, want to DO things and make things HAPPEN, but D&D puts a rule on it and says "Only if you roll the dice".

Newer (and indie-er) games have taken the mechanic and twisted it around, allowing the game system to support the players rather than fighting them every step of the way.

But, you know what? It took me a heck of a lot of playing D&D to realise why it wasn't really roleplaying, and I still believe it's a very good game in and of itself. So, yes, it's a great place to start the kids.

Oh, before I forget - if you have the time, I do recommend the basic Pendragon ruleset and some of the official "adventures" books. The rules were simpler than D&D, and the game had a rather interesting "passions" mechanic to govern character actions, and the adventures were so well written that through a few of them is bound to be fun. No need for a campaign, actually, just a few one-offs :)

PedroSteckecilo:

GonzoGamer:
All good suggestions but I would go with That Game System. It's the most versatile and it's probably got one of the easiest sets of rules to grasp... for a versatile rpg: like if they want you to make it high-tech, involve super-heroes, involve mutants, or anything else.

You're kidding right? That Game System only makes sense if you beat the rules with a hammer until they work. I played it when I was 14, thought about going back to it, took one look at the rules and nearly had a heart attack! Woefully Unbalanced Character Options, a confusing as hell battle system and nearly meaningless skill choices with a very cumbersome Percentile System.

It's like a "How To Guide" of bad rules design.

Besides, the column author already knows of a system that does what That Game System does better than That Game System it's called Savage Worlds, and it is awesome.

I always play fast and loose with the 3.5 rules, any tabletop game rules for that matter. For us, at least, the game is about the adventure, the roleplaying, the story; not about the combat situations.

Oh, and Pathfinder fixed the classes.

I'm currently in 3.5 right now for my D&D.

Fights take like 2 hours.

ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT THERE'S VERSIONS WHERE THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN?

Fenixius:

PedroSteckecilo:
[...] whilst removing what little narrative support elements [Version 3.5 had over 4th].

What narrative support elements were there in 3.5?

I've found that the formalisation/re-formalisation (I was never too knowledgeable of 3.5) of Skill Challenges has made out of combat encounters much easier.

Indeed, Dungeon Master Guide 2 for 4th edition has -heaps- of storytelling and story-writing support and information. More than I've ever seen in a single place, in fact, not that I've looked especially hard.

This supports my general idea of DnD - the DM comes up with the story, and simply implements it within the provided rulesset. 4th edition allows you to simulate almost any given combat, or noncombat challenge, based on the rules provided in PHB1, DMG1 and DMG2, with the help of any number of MM books.

What did 3.5 do that 4th didn't do, here? I'm really curious, because I know a vast number of people seem to prefer 3.5 to the "simplified" 4th.

I comment that DnD has few "narrative support elements" because well... it doesn't. Elements of Narrative Support are System Mechanics that help to drive The Story, not just The Action. DnD drives The Action just fine, but point out to me a good "Story Support Mechanic" in DnD, a specific rule that helps the PC's and the DM create a better story.

You may think I'm wrong in this, but first I recommend you look at a system like FATE (http://www.vsca.ca/Diaspora/diaspora-srd.html) or Burning Wheel, both which have a very unique way of integrating Character Backstory, Character Personality and Character Relationships with Game Play. These games do not however do the "Kick Down the Door, Kill The Monsters, Take their Stuff" part so well though, FATE has little to no equipment and Burning Wheel is a very gritty game.

I guess what I was initially getting at is that saying 3.5 had MORE Roleplaying than 4th Ed is folly, DnD has NEVER had good roleplaying rules and as you point out, the two DMG's are some of the best Campaing Help Books I've ever seen.

anyGould:
You can talk about easier/harder games, but I think 4th is a better fit for new gamers. Simply put, while a 3.5 character is an Adventurer, a 4E character is an Action Hero. The entire system is based around kicking ass and looking good while doing it. 3.5 is grittier in comparison (while still being fairly low in realism).

My group still plays both systems, as they scratch different itches. The big 3.5 advantage is that there are a lot of "reskins" out there to change the feel of the game without needing to learn another ruleset. (Two that come to mind are Arcana Evolved and Iron Heroes, from Monte Cook).

Quite so. My friends and i were in cahoots over how 'easy' everything in 4e felt. In 3e and 3.5 (and all its variants), your character is fairly good at a few things and woefully inefficient at all others. In 4e, he'll be incredibly good at a number of things and somewhat average in all others. The focus and skillsets in 4e are definitely more action-oriented - boiling it down to the aforementioned door-kicking, orc-bashing, and stuff-taking, with a real can-do attitude to it all. If you're dealing with a younger audience, 4e is obviously the way to go, but I personally prefer 3.5 for its massive customising options and background resources, and for the fact that everything is much more difficult, which emphasizes tight and well-thought character/party setups.
Again, action hero vs. adventurer is a succinct way to put it.

PedroSteckecilo:

GonzoGamer:
All good suggestions but I would go with That Game System. It's the most versatile and it's probably got one of the easiest sets of rules to grasp... for a versatile rpg: like if they want you to make it high-tech, involve super-heroes, involve mutants, or anything else.

You're kidding right? That Game System only makes sense if you beat the rules with a hammer until they work. I played it when I was 14, thought about going back to it, took one look at the rules and nearly had a heart attack! Woefully Unbalanced Character Options, a confusing as hell battle system and nearly meaningless skill choices with a very cumbersome Percentile System.

It's like a "How To Guide" of bad rules design.

Besides, the column author already knows of a system that does what That Game System does better than That Game System it's called Savage Worlds, and it is awesome.

Oh, dear. Not That Game System. It's right down there with Steve Jackson's GURPS in terms of convoluted rules complexities. If you need to know calculus to stat a vehicle, something is terribly, terribly wrong with your game. Both suffer from being so-called 'universal' games. There's so much rules lawyering in both because they must encompass almost every possible game situation. Overall, they just collapse under their own weight, and they don't have a specific stylistic flavour to them that makes the slog through rules hell worth it.

The (new) World of Darkness system by White Wolf is fantastic. Lightweight but very versatile rules, excellent storytelling and background resources, easy to learn but very fulfilling to play, and with an impeccable neo-noir flavour element to it. That game has everything in my opinion.

As a young kid (13 or 14) I would spend nights reading the AD&D 2nd ed. player's handbook. It was a lot of rules, but honestly, I didn't find it much more complicated than trying to learn the 4th ed. rules at age 21. I'd say, find a ruleset that you understand and are comfortable with and use that; you can put a good campaign on top of any ruleset.

That said, 4th ed. did take a turn for the better in making the system easier to comprehend. THACO0 was confusing and there was almost too much freedom in the way classes could be built. On the other hand, the abilities in 4th ed. seem limited, kinda like playing an MMO where you have a small handful of attacks that you just repeat over and over. I found myself relying on the abilities I was given rather than trying to invent new ways to turn the tide of battle.

Of any system I've tried (basically 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ed AD&D), my suggestion for a newcomer would be 4th ed. The rules are simpler and cleaner with less confusion of what does what and whether or not you hit.

I advise a high school game club. They play it all from video games to card games to paper and pencil RPGs. The paper and pencil crew is hip deep in 3.5 D&D and d20 modern. More than half are new players, none seem to be having any great difficulty and all seem to be having a blast. They loooked over 4E and chose 3.5. The relative complexity doesn't seem to bother them. Given the rate at which WotC is cranking out books (each thinner, often subdivided, and more expensive than it's 3.5 equivalent) for 4E I suspect the complexity issue is relative. Different players will like each (or in some cases both). My own game is rolling over to Pathfinder with some house rules. It's a better fit for my homebrew campaign. I see it as a differnt balance between world simulation (3.5) and game (4E).

*edit* My campaign world originated with the original D&D game in 1974-5. Too many differences for a comfortable transition from 3.5 to 4E.

Not to make this an argument about THACO, but it's unreasonable to attack the Basic/1e Combat System for its Armor Class rules. Armor Class is just a modifier to the attacker's die roll. If (Die Roll) + (AC) + (To Hit Bonus) = 20 you hit. THACO is just (20) - (Attack Bonus) which some peopel find intuitive and others don't.

But if my fighter has +3 attack bonus, my target has AC3, and I roll a 15. 15+3+3=21. I hit. That's it.

The higher the armor class, the bigger the bonus to the (attack) roll. I genuinely don't understand why this is perceived as complex. If I told you "Large creatures are Size Class 10 because they are easy to hit; you get to add the Size of +10 to your attack" and "Small creatures are Size Class 3 because they are harder to hit; you only add the Size of +3 to your attack" and "Tiny creatures are Size Class -2; you subtract 2 from your attack" that wouldn't be hard to understand. So why is it hard to understand to say "Unarmored creatures are Armor Class 10 because they are easy to hit; you add the Armor of +10 to your attack", etc.?

As for speed of play, we ran a battle in Basic D&D last week that pit a party of 5 5th level characters and 6 2-4th level NPCs against 480 skeletons. The entire battle took only 30 minutes to adjudicate. Fighting that battle in 3.5 or 4 would take hours.

I enjoy 3.5 or Pathfinder most, because of the complexity to it. It's the exact right amount of rules for my group and I, whereas 4th edition is far too simple in some regards to really hold my interest. 4th edition also feels less dangerous, and I have a hard enough time challenging my players in 3e.

My last gripe against 4th is probably the largest in my mind. That's the fact that all the classes feel too 'same-y'. I like that wizards start out wimps and rise to out power the warriors in 3e (though, oddly enough, the guy that plays warriors in my games is just such an insane twink he normally gets in just as many good hits). I like the unbalance of things, it makes things more interesting.

I have a number of other small gripes against 4th, but I do have to say that there are quite a many things I've pulled from it to use in my 3e games. It's not a bad game, it's just not for me.

JusticarPhaeton:

Oh, dear. Not That Game System. It's right down there with Steve Jackson's GURPS in terms of convoluted rules complexities. If you need to know calculus to stat a vehicle, something is terribly, terribly wrong with your game. Both suffer from being so-called 'universal' games. There's so much rules lawyering in both because they must encompass almost every possible game situation. Overall, they just collapse under their own weight, and they don't have a specific stylistic flavour to them that makes the slog through rules hell worth it.

Savage Worlds does the same Universal System dance, only much faster and easier. However GURPs is still a better system then That Game System, it's mostly balanced and while it takes a million years to figure out, it can be quite rewarding when you do. Also Steve Jackson learns from his mistakes and is by all accounts a stand up guy.

anyGould:
You can talk about easier/harder games, but I think 4th is a better fit for new gamers. Simply put, while a 3.5 character is an Adventurer, a 4E character is an Action Hero. The entire system is based around kicking ass and looking good while doing it. 3.5 is grittier in comparison (while still being fairly low in realism).

My group still plays both systems, as they scratch different itches. The big 3.5 advantage is that there are a lot of "reskins" out there to change the feel of the game without needing to learn another ruleset. (Two that come to mind are Arcana Evolved and Iron Heroes, from Monte Cook).

I think 4E is better fit, not so much for new gamers but for younger gamers. The very nature of 4E with its at-will, encounter and daily powers are very easy to understand and manage, and they are very similar to the concepts of many current MMORPGs. They are much easier than the previous (A)DND editions where you had to keep track of spells per days and resting. I'm not saying they are better, I'm just saying they are easier.

Having started with ADND2E and following up with 3E, 3.5E, 4E and Pathfinder I now tend to look at more generic rules. Apart from the modern day setting Modern d20 already went a long way in this. True20 is also an amazing ruleset but I don't think their alternative HP-less rules are much easier to track. Combined with Unearthed Arcana's Injury variant however it is probably one of my favorite systems. Making things even more generic I'm now looking at some Robin Laws systems like Over The Edge or the narrative HeroQuest (the RPG, not the boardgame).

I'm looking forward to the follow-up article to see how it all went!

By the love of Thor, go with 3.5.

4th edition feels more like a WoW/Diablo knock off on pen and paper.

Archon:
Not to make this an argument about THACO, but it's unreasonable to attack the Basic/1e Combat System for its Armor Class rules. Armor Class is just a modifier to the attacker's die roll. If (Die Roll) + (AC) + (To Hit Bonus) = 20 you hit. THACO is just (20) - (Attack Bonus) which some peopel find intuitive and others don't.

But if my fighter has +3 attack bonus, my target has AC3, and I roll a 15. 15+3+3=21. I hit. That's it.

The higher the armor class, the bigger the bonus to the (attack) roll. I genuinely don't understand why this is perceived as complex. If I told you "Large creatures are Size Class 10 because they are easy to hit; you get to add the Size of +10 to your attack" and "Small creatures are Size Class 3 because they are harder to hit; you only add the Size of +3 to your attack" and "Tiny creatures are Size Class -2; you subtract 2 from your attack" that wouldn't be hard to understand. So why is it hard to understand to say "Unarmored creatures are Armor Class 10 because they are easy to hit; you add the Armor of +10 to your attack", etc.?

As for speed of play, we ran a battle in Basic D&D last week that pit a party of 5 5th level characters and 6 2-4th level NPCs against 480 skeletons. The entire battle took only 30 minutes to adjudicate. Fighting that battle in 3.5 or 4 would take hours.

I completely agree. I think the thac0 issue is more myth than reality, and it is usually used by people who never played a game that actually used thac0. Most current systems aren't any less complex when it comes to combat. You usually have to compare a die + str + combat modifiers against a die/number + dex + armor + defense modifiers.

Out of curiosity: was this the game with Chris Brackett?

Artemis923:
By the love of Thor, go with 3.5.

4th edition feels more like a WoW/Diablo knock off on pen and paper.

This is exactly what it appeals to a younger generation, which has one big advantage: It keeps Dungeons and Dragons as "the first role-playing game I ever played" for this generation. A whole lot of role-players, myself included, first came in contact with it through on of the many DND installments. And those players either stay with that version of DND or they move to an older version or they start exploring the vast world of non-DND systems.

Artemis923:
By the love of Thor, go with 3.5.

4th edition feels more like a WoW/Diablo knock off on pen and paper.

I think that's just D&D playing to its strengths. D&D has never been a very narrative-driven game, it was all action and the story is just what you make of it. While I have no strong feelings about whether that's a good thing or not, I do like that 4e basically says "I'm an action game, you make up a story to go with it if you want to".

I've often heard people claiming that 4e discourages roleplaying because it doesn't have a huge list of skills, classes, prestige classes etc like 3.5 did, but it's that focus on simple action that makes it so attractive. People who want action get it in spades, and people who want roleplaying aren't restricted by an arbitrary skill-value on your sheet telling you how good your character is at something that has little to no value when it comes to the mechanics of actually playing the game.

Games that focus on the narrative can be a blast (with the right group), but D&D has never been one of those, and IMO it's a good thing that it isn't trying to be one.

Ha ha, good luck getting kids to have fun with 4E. 4E is much harder than 3.5, and not in a good way. The encounter balancing is completely out of whack and the available customization options to the players are distressingly thin. Magic items are total weaksauce and buff spells basically don't exist. In fact 4E essentially doesn't have magic at all!

The purpose of 4E was not to create a better game it was to evade the open gaming license, which Wizards of the Coast felt was stealing their profits.

4E kills all the creativity of the game. Want your character to do something? You need to have a "power" for it. What are powers? Pretty much just regular attacks with a lot of fluff attached to them. Right now my 3.5 game all the PCs are impossible to make in 4E. A mage who specializes in illusion and enchantment? All those spells are gone. A cleric summoner? Gone. A dual-wield rogue? Two-weapon fighting is now ranger only. The design concept behind 4E seems to be how limited they can make it and how many things they can take out.

Argh, I hate 4E and I hate what it's doing to the industry. It makes me sad to think of that as someone's first "D&D" experience.

Grampy_bone:
Ha ha, good luck getting kids to have fun with 4E. 4E is much harder than 3.5, and not in a good way. The encounter balancing is completely out of whack and the available customization options to the players are distressingly thin. Magic items are total weaksauce and buff spells basically don't exist. In fact 4E essentially doesn't have magic at all!

The purpose of 4E was not to create a better game it was to evade the open gaming license, which Wizards of the Coast felt was stealing their profits.

4E kills all the creativity of the game. Want your character to do something? You need to have a "power" for it. What are powers? Pretty much just regular attacks with a lot of fluff attached to them. Right now my 3.5 game all the PCs are impossible to make in 4E. A mage who specializes in illusion and enchantment? All those spells are gone. A cleric summoner? Gone. A dual-wield rogue? Two-weapon fighting is now ranger only. The design concept behind 4E seems to be how limited they can make it and how many things they can take out.

Argh, I hate 4E and I hate what it's doing to the industry. It makes me sad to think of that as someone's first "D&D" experience.

You should very well know that they announced there would be no decent conversion from 3E or 3.5E to 4E, and definitely not on a class-to-class basis. Here is an official guide for you. Here's a nice example:

Most barbarians fit best into the great weapon fighter build (p76), though barbarians wielding a pair of weapons should instead consider the two-blade ranger build (p104). Note that the former build slots you into the defender role and the latter into the striker role, so be sure you're happy with the destination.

So 3E barbarians should now look for the fighter or ranger class. Other examples suggest converting a bard to a warlord, wizard or warlock. So if you want to convert a dual-wielding rogue and you still really want him to dual-wield, then start off by playing a 4E ranger. Don't hang on too tight on the name of the class and what it used to represent in previous editions. You are absolutely correct about the Illusionist though, there are no real illusion spells to speak of. Even in their Wizard Act they only included combat illusions instead of "real" illusions like Major Image. For me that was a major let-down as well.

Of course no one is forcing you to switch to 4E. You can keep playing 3.5 or Pathfinder or True20.

It has been quite a long time since I've played 1st edition D&D. I think my uncle has the red box. I need to do that so I can do a side-by-side comparison of my own.

PedroSteckecilo:

GonzoGamer:
All good suggestions but I would go with That Game System. It's the most versatile and it's probably got one of the easiest sets of rules to grasp... for a versatile rpg: like if they want you to make it high-tech, involve super-heroes, involve mutants, or anything else.

You're kidding right? That Game System only makes sense if you beat the rules with a hammer until they work. I played it when I was 14, thought about going back to it, took one look at the rules and nearly had a heart attack! Woefully Unbalanced Character Options, a confusing as hell battle system and nearly meaningless skill choices with a very cumbersome Percentile System.

It's like a "How To Guide" of bad rules design.

Besides, the column author already knows of a system that does what That Game System does better than That Game System it's called Savage Worlds, and it is awesome.

Okay but I wasn't badmouthing Palladium.
And I really hope you're joking. The only thing more simple than the Palladium rules is a choose your own adventure book. I always liked it because there wasn't too much fiddling with things, the head gets to concentrate on the story, not being a rules lawyer.

GonzoGamer:

Okay but I wasn't badmouthing Palladium.
And I really hope you're joking. The only thing more simple than the Palladium rules is a choose your own adventure book. I always liked it because there wasn't too much fiddling with things, the head gets to concentrate on the story, not being a rules lawyer.

Check out FATE, Savage Worlds or Feng Shui, they do the same thing only better. Rules Light games that let you focus on story. Though I suppose Palladium does do one thing well, it leaves a lot open to interpretation, which can lead to either a lot of creativity, or a lot of boredom.

I genuinely tried giving 4th ed a try... but I could leave 3.5 behind. I think it is still the best system for my group and myself. AND... 4th ed doesn't seem dumbed down, but it feels like alot of the diversity and control you had in sculpting your own characters has been lessened since 3.5.

I hate that 4th ed is what the next gen is starting with. I started with AD&D and it was great (despite some of its probs). At least start with 3.0.

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