The Truth About 4th Edition: Part One of Our Exclusive Interview with Wizards of the Coast

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SL33TBL1ND:
Honestly, I never played past AD&D, y'know, the one with all the tits in it. But seriously, it just changed to much, I'll happily play NWN but for tabletop, I'll stick with what I know.

If you're happy with your system, no need to change is the way I see it!

Fenixius:

SL33TBL1ND:
Honestly, I never played past AD&D, y'know, the one with all the tits in it. But seriously, it just changed to much, I'll happily play NWN but for tabletop, I'll stick with what I know.

If you're happy with your system, no need to change is the way I see it!

Exactly.

I'm staying way the hell away from the "this version is better than that version" hullaballoo but to say I've been playing D&D since 1981 and have had fun playing no matter which rules version was current. It's about playing and having fun and that's what I've done and will continue to do with D&D or any other game system.

In relation to the article, I was stoked to not only hear the virtual tabletop brought up (I asked a couple of WotC guys about it at PAX'09 and didn't get any real info) and have WotC hint that it still exists and could maybe see the light of day in some format. While I'd rather play face-to-faces at an actual table I think playing against folks worldwide would only add to the roleplaying fun.

TraumaHound:
In relation to the article, I was stoked to not only hear the virtual tabletop brought up (I asked a couple of WotC guys about it at PAX'09 and didn't get any real info) and have WotC hint that it still exists and could maybe see the light of day in some format. While I'd rather play face-to-faces at an actual table I think playing against folks worldwide would only add to the roleplaying fun.

I'd loooove a virtual tabletop, especially if one were to be distributed under an open source license or a GPL. Ideally, I just want a server program, a set of DM tools to make tokens and give them stats, and to be able to draw lines and move tokens around on a tabletop. Oh, and roll me some dice, of course! Everything I've found is too complicated for the simple needs of lazy DM, and most of it was expensive to boot.

Fenixius:

Heh, I did look at doing an FFTA-based tabletop game, but there're some problems. I can't reverse-engineer their formulae for combat mechanics and character progression, and it's all PvP which is less interesting for me than a DnD-style game.

Yeah, I think the reverse engineering and tweaking so heavily that it would work in a DnD-style game is a large part of what killed the 40k conversion.

You know, over everything, I personally like what Paizo did with 3.5 with Pathfinder. It took most of what I like from 4th (even though I do not like 4th as a whole, I will agree that there are some parts that exceeded 3.5) and took the good things from 3.5, put them together and then streamlined a lot of it. It honestly seems like the best of both worlds so I'm completely happy that WotC dropped 3.5 because it means Paizo was able to make it into a better system imo.

I only played a bit with 4th edition and I think it is fine for one-off games but I don't see running a campaign with it.

They were right that 3rd edition DMing is like doing really boring homework, if you go by the rules. And each supplement adds a level of complexity so even a great project like PCGEN http://sourceforge.net/projects/pcgen/ can't make a good UI for it. If Wizards was committed to an electronic product (and not quarter-assing it like with e-tools) then DMing would be much less of a chore. I love writing the fluff but but fitting the crunch into the my fluff was just too much work.

3rd edition kept to the spirit of the old versions while creating a level of rules consistency across the whole system. 4th edition throws everything out the window. The system doesn't respect the 40+ years of PnP history that come with the name; the alignment system, the unnecessary symmetry, the gygagx grudge monsters and the Tolkien ripoffs. To put it another way the guys at Wizards started with their money making motive as directed by their corporate overlords, and built the system around that. And that fact was perfectly clear to anyone who had been with DND since Wizards first released it.

That isn't to say some of the 4th edition ideas aren't good. Like taking the "character" of the monsters and codifying that as a power. And the whole solo monster concept is pretty sharp. But those things could just as easily be added in 3rd edition supplements instead of a whole new system (though that would make less money).

Fenixius:
What would you have them add to 3.5? It appears to have a staggering amount of supplementary rulebooks. I always considered it to be "done", especially when you factor in the fan-edits like Pathfinder.

The ideas behind 4th Edition are to open it up to newer people. There's nothing wrong with them expanding on that, and evolving the game into something more robust than it is now. 3.5 I just find to be so tedious for character creation. Too many options which are perfect for this one specific kind of fight or situation, and not enough which apply more generically. Does that mean I'm just a noob and I'm not building well enough? Maybe, but why should I have to read two dozen textbooks and experience a half dozen failed characters first, before I can make someone fun and competent?

They don't necessarily need to add anything to 3.5, just keep those books up for sale. As I said, v4 can be for those who prefer a more basic approach, because they are beginning or just don't have the time to invest in really digging into D&D. I don't prefer v4, in fact I would just as soon use 2nd Ed., but not everybody I know will even have access to those materials. v3-3.5 is a good compromise, and still hangs onto many things that I grew up with in D&D.
One thing that hasn't really been stressed, even by Wizards though that doesnt surprise me, is that D&D can differ in MMORPG's in one good way: You don't have to upgrade with the newest version or expansion to play. What works for some doesn't necessarily work for others, and that can actually be a good thing.

I've been playing d&d since 1989ish. Every single time this happens. Every. Single. Time. When they come out with a new edition or change things people say they ruined it forever and that it's been dumbed down. I recall when Thac0 was berid of people said that no one will play D&D anymore and it'll die out. Low and behold they sold what was it 30 million copies of the players handbook or something like that?

4th ed is different. Not better, not worse, different. Just like 3/3.5 was from 2nd.

I dislike 4th for a variety of reasons, many of which are of the 'already know 3rd too damn well and have all the books' types of reasons. A few are not, however, and they're generally the ones that I feel are more compelling.

1) Class Sameness - Classes in 4th all gain the same types of abilities at the same levels, along with the same basic stats and proficiency in skills. In 3.5, classes are incredibly varied and useful with different advancement per class per level. Often times the only things that seem different to me in 4th are the ranges at which the classes are effective.

2) Boring Combat - While admittedly a highly subjective reason, I find the combat in 4th to just be boring. I think this has to do with the limited number of powers in a players arsenal an with the doling out of them in daily/encounter/at-will usage. I find that my players/teammates tend to save the daily ones until they are mostly out of encounter ones, and the at-will ones until the encounter ones are used up. This leads to fairly predictable combat with many of the powers being fairly specialized and rarely usable to major effect. The reliance on powers also seems to make my players forgo using the various location/opportunity-based attacks I try to work into most of my encounters.

3) Style - Again, highly subjective, but I find 4th edition to be a much more 'cartoon-y' game, and much less dangerous and dark than I typically run my 3.5 games. This is aggravated by my players, who are mostly naturals at exploiting system weaknesses and finding excellent combinations. I find a similar style more adaptable to my liking easily found in the Mutants & Masterminds RPG.

4) Numbers - While many people talk about 4.0 simplifying things, the number of bonuses and
different types of attack rolls that can be thrown around can lead to mass confusion on what your d20 gets added to it.

For a simple attack roll you have: d20+Level Bonus+Class Bonus+Ability Bonus+Proficiency Bonus+Magic Bonus+Misc Bonus. Often with other additions or subtractions from powers or bonuses from allies.
In 3.5 an attack roll is: d20+BAB+Str/Dex Bonus+Magic+Misc Bonus. The note of powers and allies applies here, too, but seems to swing less with the tide of battle and is fairly consistent.

Maybe this one is just subjective, too. I can't help but feel like I have to remember and change my attack bonus far more often in 4th.

Those are the primary reasons that I prefer 3.5 over 4th, but I fully realize it may be a better game for others. I heartily encourage you to try both editions if you can, though. Also, try other pen-and-paper RPGs, some of them can surprise you and give you nice ideas for your next game or character.

I always thought 3.5 was in an awkward position between campy fantasy and realistic roleplay, and a lot of things bothered me in the system as it presented itself like entirely universal, for every type of adventure. It really isn't. And 4th Ed. managed to embrace those limitations, and I must say it's been a great improvement in my group's sessions since we switched.

At least now there's a clear cut as to where we should be using GURPS (when we need an extra detailed, consistent, realistic ruleset not limited to a single genre) and when D&D rules. 3.5 gave the impression it was capable of supporting a wide array of campaigns, but really, the system is just a bother if you try playing accurate historical fantasy. We ended up playing-by-roleplay-only half the time.

RJ Dalton:
See, that's what I liked about 3E myself. I did get into some of the stuff in 3.5E, but it was kind of pick and choose, really. That aside, with just the three core rulebooks of 3E, you could essentially make any number of different characters. I didn't buy most of the supplements to 3E because they weren't neccessary; you could do everything they were doing with just the right selection of feats and skills and those bits that you couldn't were really simple to come up with on your own. 4E, on the other hand, is built so much like WOW in its character creation and leveling system that all your characters are essentially the same with only minor variations.
Furthermore, 4E is nowhere near as adaptable as 3E. 3E, we could tweak the rules to make the game a lot more gritty and realistic. We even found away to do away with the class system altogether, but still use the basic d20 rules. You can't do that with 4E, because the only thing that has any real complexity to it is the powers. Take that away and the game has nothing. You can't build the game to emphasize skills exclusively because so many of the skills are all lumped together and because they automatically go up with levels, every character of a certain level is going to have the same skill ranking in his chosen skills. You can't choose to emphasize some skills over others like you could with 3E.

But then you run up against the perpetual crisis of D&D3/D20:
"Look at all these things the system can do!"
"Ah, but what does it do well?"

I like warrior-type characters a lot -- men and women who live and die by their steel, courage, and cunning. The various flavors of 3rd Edition give you a bajillion ways to put together a warrior, but I've found that absolutely none of them move me. Whichever classes you pick, whichever feats you put together to make your gimmick, whatever weapon you wield, the system is just a letdown from top to bottom. It just doesn't cover what I actually like about combat. 3rd Edition drags out fights with its detailed task-resolution mechanics, but none of the details add much to the overall feel: weapons, armor, wounds, maneuvers, and timing are all soulless; there's a whiff of something cool in the rules about positioning and attacks of opportunity, but the implementation needs a lot of work to really shine. Doesn't matter how many ways you can come up with for representing a warrior if the underlying structure makes 'em all boring to play.

You can mod and hack and drift D20 in lots of different directions and get some kind of passable game. But passable isn't the same thing as good. That's what I found so annoying about D20. Everyone kept trying to build all this stuff on top of it when, most of the time, it obviously wasn't the right foundation for the goal.

-- Alex

Alex_P:

RJ Dalton:
See, that's what I liked about 3E myself. I did get into some of the stuff in 3.5E, but it was kind of pick and choose, really. That aside, with just the three core rulebooks of 3E, you could essentially make any number of different characters. I didn't buy most of the supplements to 3E because they weren't neccessary; you could do everything they were doing with just the right selection of feats and skills and those bits that you couldn't were really simple to come up with on your own. 4E, on the other hand, is built so much like WOW in its character creation and leveling system that all your characters are essentially the same with only minor variations.
Furthermore, 4E is nowhere near as adaptable as 3E. 3E, we could tweak the rules to make the game a lot more gritty and realistic. We even found away to do away with the class system altogether, but still use the basic d20 rules. You can't do that with 4E, because the only thing that has any real complexity to it is the powers. Take that away and the game has nothing. You can't build the game to emphasize skills exclusively because so many of the skills are all lumped together and because they automatically go up with levels, every character of a certain level is going to have the same skill ranking in his chosen skills. You can't choose to emphasize some skills over others like you could with 3E.

But then you run up against the perpetual crisis of D&D3/D20:
"Look at all these things the system can do!"
"Ah, but what does it do well?"

I like warrior-type characters a lot -- men and women who live and die by their steel, courage, and cunning. The various flavors of 3rd Edition give you a bajillion ways to put together a warrior, but I've found that absolutely none of them move me. Whichever classes you pick, whichever feats you put together to make your gimmick, whatever weapon you wield, the system is just a letdown from top to bottom. It just doesn't cover what I actually like about combat. 3rd Edition drags out fights with its detailed task-resolution mechanics, but none of the details add much to the overall feel: weapons, armor, wounds, maneuvers, and timing are all soulless; there's a whiff of something cool in the rules about positioning and attacks of opportunity, but the implementation needs a lot of work to really shine. Doesn't matter how many ways you can come up with for representing a warrior if the underlying structure makes 'em all boring to play.

You can mod and hack and drift D20 in lots of different directions and get some kind of passable game. But passable isn't the same thing as good. That's what I found so annoying about D20. Everyone kept trying to build all this stuff on top of it when, most of the time, it obviously wasn't the right foundation for the goal.

-- Alex

It sounds like you would really like the GURPS combat system. It greatly benefits by the one-second-combat-turns mechanic that allows it to go into the tiniest details. Of course, it's notoriously complicated. I find it simple to learn and a little more demanding to master, because it has very realistic, plausible and intuitive rules, with only many hundreds of variables that change from maneuver to maneuver.

Even the most basic GURPS combat incorporates hit locations, positioning, facing, elevation, visibility, distraction, stances, how you grip your weapon, how encumbered you are, what parts of your body are armored with what, what type of attack you do, what kind of weapon you hold, what type of wounds it inflicts, etc. It takes some getting used to, but it makes for incredibly epic encounters.

EDIT: Also, you 3.5 fans do realize that the edition was taken up in the form of the Pathfinder RPG after 4th Ed. was published? It's even improved, they say. I haven't tried it myself but it does seem like a good idea.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathfinder_Roleplaying_Game

I don't think anyone is going to have their mind changed by these articles about third versus fourth, or have any of their reasoning challenged. The new system has been out long enough now that if someone's quarrels are based in concrete, systemic issues, they've had time to explore that and decide already. And if there's any pure dogmatic dislike lingering, then it's probably not going to fade anytime soon.

But one thing I think this series might help with is the perception of 4E as an industry product. A lot of gamers see 4E and its changes as a big 'fuck you' from Wizards to the corpse of TSR, and I think that's a terrible thing. This game wasn't designed to replace 3.5, and can't anyway. 4E was designed by people that have played and enjoyed tabletop gaming since the early years of the hobby, since there was no such thing as a tabletop RPG industry.

If there are any people out there who have held prejudice against 4E because of perceived meddling by businessmen or outsiders, regardless of actual, physical qualms with the system which may be perfectly valid, those ideas can and must be challenged when you face the fact that these systemic and stylistic changes where made by people that have been gaming for years and years, possibly longer than you, even. When you have to examine the thinking behind the new system not as the product of an industrial machine but as the brainchild of red- and blue-box gamers that you couldn't tell apart from your own favorite group of nerds, then you have to begin to respect those ideas, even if you still don't agree with them.

Think about your gaming group. Do you all agree about every aspect of your system of choice? Do you even agree about a system of choice? Not likely. And when they say something about the rules or materials that you think is insane, hopefully you put up with them because you have had some amazing adventures together, and when you're in such close quarters you're far more likely to see 'personal preference' instead of 'sabotage.' What a concept, huh?

4E was made by the same bunch of nerds that pile into your rec room every few weeks to sabotage a lovingly-crafted campaign for the sake of free snack food. They all have dozens of hilarious and inspiring stories about their past and present gaming groups. They all have passion and love for their hobby, and I bet they consider themselves some of the luckiest people in the world to be able to have a hand in its future. I don't know how they feel about disagreements you might have with 4E's mechanics or umbrage at its stylistic changes, but I can't imagine how shallow and hurtful it must seem to them when they're regarded as outsiders, middlemen, suits, or 'people who just don't get it.'

Everyone has played with and enjoyed the company of the one old, tireless codger at the table who, regardless of his grudging tolerance of and affection for the new generation, always held such fervor for bellyaching about how much he misses THAC0, how he's fought far more harebrained creatures than flumphs, how it used to be that the DM really was just out to kill you, and how you 3.x kiddies just can't understand what it was like to play with the late, great systems of yesteryear. Maybe you'll have the privilege of being that guy someday whether you want to be or not!

3.5 still exists. So does AD&D second. So does first edition, which I could pick up from the gaming shop in my town any time I feel like it. The existence of 4E doesn't in any way prohibit you from enjoying your hobby, but it may allow someone else to do so, and I'm sure that's what the designers were thinking about. So please, can't we just develop some kind of alliance, if not agreement, and get back to raving about those clueless maniacs that make and play White Wolf? I mean, seriously, what were those brain-dead World of Darkness dolts thinking when they-

Sorry. You know what I mean.

I've been wondering quite a lot about the 4th edition. It is clearly meant for the mmorpg-crowd, especially the WoW-people...
And that's just retarted. They're already wasting away with WoW, how do you think they're gone get up from the computer and play a tabletop World-of-Warcraft-abortion called D&D 4th edition?
Luckily, there's still older 3.5-edition materials available in good rpg-shops and ofcourse, online. Sadly, they are discontinued by publishers, save for few like Pathfinder.
Secondly: the 4th edition was shipped almost simultaneously when Gygax kicked the bucket. Was he the last line of defence against this atrocity?

But there's really no reason to whine more, it's done.
Remember, though, that if you find D&D 3rd(and something) too hard and complicated, play WoW. don't waste your money to this MMORPG-shit they call the 4th Edition.

Pathfinder Is Better. Fact!

Hammith:
I dislike 4th for a variety of reasons, many of which are of the 'already know 3rd too damn well and have all the books' types of reasons. A few are not, however, and they're generally the ones that I feel are more compelling.

1) Class Sameness - Classes in 4th all gain the same types of abilities at the same levels, along with the same basic stats and proficiency in skills. In 3.5, classes are incredibly varied and useful with different advancement per class per level. Often times the only things that seem different to me in 4th are the ranges at which the classes are effective.

2) Boring Combat - While admittedly a highly subjective reason, I find the combat in 4th to just be boring. I think this has to do with the limited number of powers in a players arsenal an with the doling out of them in daily/encounter/at-will usage. I find that my players/teammates tend to save the daily ones until they are mostly out of encounter ones, and the at-will ones until the encounter ones are used up. This leads to fairly predictable combat with many of the powers being fairly specialized and rarely usable to major effect. The reliance on powers also seems to make my players forgo using the various location/opportunity-based attacks I try to work into most of my encounters.

3) Style - Again, highly subjective, but I find 4th edition to be a much more 'cartoon-y' game, and much less dangerous and dark than I typically run my 3.5 games. This is aggravated by my players, who are mostly naturals at exploiting system weaknesses and finding excellent combinations. I find a similar style more adaptable to my liking easily found in the Mutants & Masterminds RPG.

4) Numbers - While many people talk about 4.0 simplifying things, the number of bonuses and
different types of attack rolls that can be thrown around can lead to mass confusion on what your d20 gets added to it.

For a simple attack roll you have: d20+Level Bonus+Class Bonus+Ability Bonus+Proficiency Bonus+Magic Bonus+Misc Bonus. Often with other additions or subtractions from powers or bonuses from allies.
In 3.5 an attack roll is: d20+BAB+Str/Dex Bonus+Magic+Misc Bonus. The note of powers and allies applies here, too, but seems to swing less with the tide of battle and is fairly consistent.

Maybe this one is just subjective, too. I can't help but feel like I have to remember and change my attack bonus far more often in 4th.

Those are the primary reasons that I prefer 3.5 over 4th, but I fully realize it may be a better game for others. I heartily encourage you to try both editions if you can, though. Also, try other pen-and-paper RPGs, some of them can surprise you and give you nice ideas for your next game or character.

I've played both too, and I find that a few of your reasons for your dislike a bit misplaced, but I understand where they're coming from.

1. Class differences. This is based in all classes being able to take a few hits, and not having martial and spellcasting powers appear significantly different in structure. There is still great difference though.

The difference between a Rogue and an Avenger is quite large, even though they both fill the same combat role, at the same typical range. One has the flavor of divine vengeance, and great accuracy. The other has the flavor of catching you off-guard with devastating strikes. Even within a class, there can be big differences. A summoner-focused druid vs a predator-focused druid? Huge difference. Classes may seem similar on the surface, but if you actually look at how they work, you'll find much bigger differences. Take Sorcerer and Warlock, one focuses their damage, the other spreads it out. Warlock also gets pact boons though: rewards for delivering souls to their lords. Sorcerers can gain the eclectic benefits of chaos magic, or the brute-force power of dragon magic, which can vary spell-to-spell. The results are again quite different flavor-ly and mechanically. And this is comparing the classes that are supposed to have the same function and both have the arcane power source. Comparing different classes, like wizard and paladin, you end up with a class that issues challenges to enemies, and if they choose to ignore that challenge you end up blinded by the paladin's divine radiance. Wizards shoot magic missiles and cast cantrips to put light anyplace they want. Just because they both roll dice for their attacks doesn't make them the same. A wizard in trouble flies to safety. A paladin in trouble channels healing power from the gods to rejuvenate himself. Difference? I think yes.

2. Boring combat. As far as I can tell, 4e combat is much more interesting than 3.5 combat is (unless you're a 3.5 caster of high level). Your choice is not limited to attack/charge/full attack. Having a selection of powers (and options given to you by magic items) will always be more interesting than just "attack, flank and attack, attack and attack, move and attack" as it is for warriors in 3.5. Until you get power attack, you don't really have any decisions to make at all apart from who you're going to attack.
The "limited number of powers in a (4e) player's arsenal" goes up as they gain levels. Right now we just hit level 12, which means we have a grand total of 2 at-wills, 4 encounters, 3 dailies, and 4 utilities, not to mention the 3+ powers we get from magic items and whatever class feature powers we get. I think that quantity of choice gets to be pretty hefty, and when players choose to use powers is really up to them. If they've only got 1 daily, it makes sense to conserve it until they're desperate, unless it has lasting effects like a barbarian rage.

3. Style. 4e combat does feel a lot "safer" than 3.5 combat. I attribute this to larger hp pools relative to monster damage. I'm the 4e DM and I've made every single encounter 25%-100% tougher than the DMG suggests, but to be fair all our characters are quite optimized. In my 3.5 game, by contrast, I started with 11hp, and only because I took a flaw to get the Toughness feat. I'm now level 4 and I've got 28 hp. Last fight, a giant killed the party barbarian, at full health, with defensive buffs, with rage, in 1 critical hit (DAMN). The first game I played, every single player went unconscious at least once. 3.5 is hella tough, I'll give you that. Player defenses and hp don't scale nearly as fast as monster attack and damage.
In 4e, I managed to get a player into the dying state by focus-firing and using a trap of level+5. Pyramid of Shadows had a good idea to make things hard for the cocky 4e party though: don't let them sleep. They won't get dailies or healing surges back.

4. Numbers. Now, the numbers can get a little confusing when you're trying to add them all up on the fly. This is where Power Cards come in. They have been a GREAT addition to our 4e game, where you print out the power and its description, and just write in pencil your attack bonus and damage from the power. Keeps everything moving quickly too.

But let me add up the numbers from my optimized cavalier build in 3.5 for attack bonus:
BaB+STR+Enhancement+Weapon Focus+Luck+High Ground+Charge+Haste+Smite+Cavalier Lance bonus....
It gets pretty big once you get up there in levels. (this was a 30th level build, and is therefore exceptionally complicated, but you see my point. btw +78 AB. Power Attack for full, Dire Charge+Unstoppable Charge+Haste=~5000 damage/round. <3) Especially with spell buffs, which in my experience are NOT very consistent since you get limited uses per day.
In 4e you do have ABILITY+1/2 Level+Proficiency+Enhancement+MISC, where miscellaneous tends to be pretty contained. Not to mention you don't need to keep track of as many bonuses and penalties in combat, since they're all simplified into combat advantage, which is always just +2. And it does get easier when you just write it down. Spells or abilities which give bonuses to this in the midst of combat are rare, which makes the written-down value more useful, since you won't have to recalculate it for those temporary effects. Which make power cards even more of a good idea.

Now I don't expect to change your mind about 4e, but I don't think 1, 2, and 4 are good complaints when comparing to 3.5. You should easily be able to get past those. The style is different though, and the combat difficulty is definitely changed. (IMO for the better, the game is definitely more balanced between characters) My 4e game tends to be pretty light-hearted, despite the dark path I'm sending them on. Everybody's having fun though, so I don't have a problem with it.

GreyWolf257:
This is actually an article I have been looking forward to for a long time. It explains a lot. I still don't see why they think what they did with 4th Edition was a good idea. They say that it fits in with the new generation, but I am part of the new generation and I don't like 4th Edition. The complexity of 3 and 3.5 was what made me like the game: having to read up on everything in order to make a great game for your friends just won me over.

Nice article.

I have to agree entirely. Can't help wonder what the game would have been like if the 3.5 had been refined a bit more. 4th has some great ideas, but for me the core represents every thing I hate about on-line RPGs. After a few brief quest, we went back to 3.5 (now playing City of the Spider Queen, which despite spending so long on the shelf, has now forced us to add an extra night of role-play to the week)

There's no mystery as to why they created 4th. They wanted to sell a new line of books after we already bought all the 3rd edition books. It's not about the game or the experience, it's how much money WOTC can fleece out of it's customers.

3rd Edition will always be the best.

Seneschal:
It sounds like you would really like the GURPS combat system.

Nope. I'm not really interested in tons of detail, necessarily; especially not all the time. It's just that I can appreciate some level of fine-grained detail as long as it contributes to the feel of the fiction. I don't think GURPS offers much in the way of involving your character's beliefs and personality in the mechanics, though, which is a large part of my complaint against D&D.

-- Alex

Alex_P:

Seneschal:
It sounds like you would really like the GURPS combat system.

Nope. I'm not really interested in tons of detail, necessarily; especially not all the time. It's just that I can appreciate some level of fine-grained detail as long as it contributes to the feel of the fiction. I don't think GURPS offers much in the way of involving your character's beliefs and personality in the mechanics, though, which is a large part of my complaint against D&D.

-- Alex

So, then, with your focus on roleplaying and appreciation for both elegant mechanics and detail incorporated, what system do you like? I'm curious, now.

It seems like the discussion about 3.5 vs 4 has really matured on this last page, people agreeing to differences of opinion and increasing granularity in complaints and comments. I'm always impressed by some of the comment thread of Escapist. Best forum on the 'net.

Oh, and despite my advocacy for 4th Edition, I have been reminded of one of my hugest gripes with the Edition - Alignment. By the innumerable stars at night, what the hell is wrong with the guys who set up that part of the game. The best alignment system I've ever seen is also WotC, but never been a part of Dungeons and Dragons. I loathe 3.5's grid, as well, though the bi-axial approach is good.

The alignment system I've always liked the best is that of Magic: The Gathering. The 5 colours, each with their own philosophy, natural alliances and oppositions, the easy of multi-colour. It really spoke to me, more than DnD's horribly subjective system, it was objective and intention-defined, not action. The same action could be cast as any colour, if your intent was in line. I once wrote an essay on it for mostly my own amusement. I'd love to see it incorporated into an RPG somehow.

Alex_P:

IcarusPherae:
If you want something new to play (an updated 3.5) and 4th edition doesn't suit you check out Paizo's Pathfinder RPG. It is 3.5 basically with some upgrades you won't be disappointed!

Well, you will be disappointed if you actually want "something new". It's a familiar thing with a mild facelift, written for people who want exactly that rather than an all-new game.

-- Alex

hence the updated 3.5 bit, I simply meant if you would like some of the issues that 3.5 possessed that 4th edition dealt with ( and dislike the way they were dealt with) there is another option and heck all those books you bought for 3.x are still relevant. If people fall under the "ain't broke don't fix it" school of thought but do actually wish some of the issues were dealt with than there you go. you want a different game play a different game sheesh. I personally would like to try playing 4th edition it certainly has its merits not the least of which is deviating from the Tolkien races we have had to deal will forever (human but short with beard, human but shorter and pointy ears) i find both have their merits and flaws, my only real issue with 4th edition is the odd self healing thing, just seems strange to me but I haven't tried it yet so no real opinion formed.

Thank you for the unnecessary aggression.

I was there at EN World during the months from 4E being announced to the release of the PHB1, but I frankly didn't have anything against it, but that interview makes me feel depressed. He doesn't understand how he was able to learn D&D from the Blue Box? Really? A professional game designer doesn't think he has enough of an attention span to read a hundred pages? And isn't ashamed to admit it?

Alex_P:

Andy Collins, quoted in the article:
The eladrin is more recognition that the elf race historically in D&D has really been too racist - it's been the sort of super-smart, arcane, Elrond style elf, but it's also been the primal, woodsy, archer-Legolas type elf.

Umm... are you sure he didn't say "two races"?

-- Alex

OMG! Thanks for the great catch. That's the problem with transcribing recorded interviews!

I am still using 2nd edition so....

It's all really simple: WotC originally supported the OGL, but then realized how much potential revenue was cut off by that, so they 'streamlined' and 'improved' a new edition, of which, NOTHING in it is now OGL. All of their stuff is trademarked.

"Hey kids! Do you like MMO's and Miniatures? Well we hope you do because that's what our system is built around! Oh, and flashy power cards, for those of you who can't understand what an encounter or...day means and need a crutch."

And what the fuck did they do to Faerun? Mystra dead? Because according to the lore that's happened twice already and her ass was back almost instantly. They turned Forgotten Realms into Eberron, and Eberron into...well, not really sure....

I started playing D&D through 4th edition (Though I had an AD&D manuel for about 10 years before that{Don't ask})
And me and my mates really enjoy playing, however we find the actual role playing part difficult and the classes all feel kind of samey. where as in older editions we know that for example fighters start of strong but magic users finish of pretty much god-like.

Tiny116:
I started playing D&D through 4th edition (Though I had an AD&D manual for about 10 years before that{Don't ask})
Me and my mates really enjoy playing, however we find the actual roleplaying part difficult and the classes all feel kind of samey. Where as in older editions we know that for example fighters start of strong but magic users finish of pretty much god-like.

I see this as being a serious problem in design. This guy starts -gimped-. I mean, 4HP, good luck with that dude. Everyone should have enough abilities and powers and stats to survive with a little luck early on, and then should specialise and become stronger. Not one guy starts survivable, and the other guy ends up OP'd for the same amount of effort.

Every single class should be fun to play.

Fenixius:
I'd loooove a virtual tabletop, especially if one were to be distributed under an open source license or a GPL. Ideally, I just want a server program, a set of DM tools to make tokens and give them stats, and to be able to draw lines and move tokens around on a tabletop. Oh, and roll me some dice, of course! Everything I've found is too complicated for the simple needs of lazy DM, and most of it was expensive to boot.

I have Fantasy Grounds which is a pretty sweet virtual tabletop program. The dice-roller is especially awesome. I haven't ever actually used it to play, though, as I've never found the right hookup time with a group (seems a lot of Europeans use it so the timing is all off for me being in the US.) Something similar (or better considering the little teases we were shown years ago with the 3D views, make your own mini feature, the use of dungeon tiles which would tie nicely into their own products) that would also tie into the Character Builder and Monster Builder would be perfect. Maybe one day.

I'm really happy to see this. It's good to see folks from WotC being up-front about their design and marketing decisions. It's also great to see more tabletop-based content on the Escapist.

Looking forward to Part 2.

IcarusPherae:

Alex_P:

IcarusPherae:
If you want something new to play (an updated 3.5) and 4th edition doesn't suit you check out Paizo's Pathfinder RPG. It is 3.5 basically with some upgrades you won't be disappointed!

Well, you will be disappointed if you actually want "something new". It's a familiar thing with a mild facelift, written for people who want exactly that rather than an all-new game.

-- Alex

hence the updated 3.5 bit, I simply meant if you would like some of the issues that 3.5 possessed that 4th edition dealt with ( and dislike the way they were dealt with) there is another option and heck all those books you bought for 3.x are still relevant. If people fall under the "ain't broke don't fix it" school of thought but do actually wish some of the issues were dealt with than there you go. you want a different game play a different game sheesh. I personally would like to try playing 4th edition it certainly has its merits not the least of which is deviating from the Tolkien races we have had to deal will forever (human but short with beard, human but shorter and pointy ears) i find both have their merits and flaws, my only real issue with 4th edition is the odd self healing thing, just seems strange to me but I haven't tried it yet so no real opinion formed.

Thank you for the unnecessary aggression.

I agree that the alignments blow in 4th edition, but there is one thing that they did right for me in 4th edition that makes me scream at 3.5 and Pathfinder: alignments are unimportant. I hate that in 3.5 and Pathfinder alignments set limitations on what you could and could not do. I remember so many 3.5 games where alignments were a convenience for a class build. 4th has alignments, but they don't represent any physical limitations. You are free to ignore them or change the system and it will not effect the game at all. This lead to some cool stuff, such as a friend of mine replacing the alignments in 4th edition with a morality quiz.

ace_of_something:
I've been playing d&d since 1989ish. Every single time this happens. Every. Single. Time. When they come out with a new edition or change things people say they ruined it forever and that it's been dumbed down. I recall when Thac0 was berid of people said that no one will play D&D anymore and it'll die out. Low and behold they sold what was it 30 million copies of the players handbook or something like that?

4th ed is different. Not better, not worse, different. Just like 3/3.5 was from 2nd.

As someone from the same era, I think you're right on the money.

I've been playing a 4e campaign for a year now, and I'm having a lot of fun. I'm playing my first wizard PC ever in 20+ years of gaming, because this is the first edition where the mage player doesn't have to be a bookkeeper.

I don't care if 4e was influenced by WoW. Fact is, influences eventually borrow from what they influenced. Anime and manga were inspired by Disney cartoons of the 1930s, and later on Disney was inspired by (or perhaps ripped off) anime. Japanese chanbara films of the 50s and 60s were inspired by American Westerns of the 30s and 40s, and then Westerns of the 60s and 70s were inspired by (or direct remakes of) chanbara films. It's just part of the creative cycle.

And I don't expect Wizards to continue catering exclusively for their 18-35 year old, or 25-45, or whatever it is now, fanbase. This hobby is endangered enough already, and it can't afford to ignore or alienate the up and coming generations, or new players regardless of where they come from. That kind of thinking nearly killed the North American comic book industry in the late 90s.

doctorwhofan:

psrdirector:
Interesting article, but they really didnt say why they felt 4th was better then 3.5 for clasic gamers. I own alot of 4th edition books, but I enjoy 3.5 much better. 3.5 is a more complex game, allows more freedom, and generally allows more ability to do waht you want.

Agreed. 4.0 felt like WoW, while 3.5, even rules heavy, actually gives you the freedom to do ANYTHING. Nice to see I wasn't the only one who sees this. We don't play 4.0, we play 3.5.

How exactly is 4.0 restrictive?

I don't get it. Nowhere in the books does it say you can't roleplay or DM any way you want. THere is still a lot of freedom in the character creation, what is the difference?

In fact, in 3.0 and 3.5 I remember your alignment could set restrictions on what you could or could not do, 4.0 does no such thing. Also the roleplaying was freed up as a whole in 4.0 as well. On top of the new playable races and new powers and rituals.

IMO its easier to get started than 3rd but just as enjoyable.

3e and 4e are all well and good on the surface but I really find the devil's in the details. D&D Cyclopedia is still my favorite rule set.

I've tried a few 4e campaigns and I won't touch it any more. All the character classes play the same thanks to having MMO style ability sets limited to a single use per fight (or worse)... high level characters end up cluttered by a dozen attacks that are all basically the same, except when some particular detail matters, at which point you only get one shot with the one you WANT which often isn't enough to be effective. You might miss with your AC-lowering attack, your target saves too fast from your only appropriate status hit, your knockdown skill is only good for shooting one guy off of a heavily-defended rooftop. A couple fighters with redundant skills would work out but nobody makes redundant characters in a D&D game now that there are more character options than there are characters in the party.

Third had its share of problems, some really really horrible problems like Rogues being able to get their special attacks constantly if they were smart, and how badly owned a character was against enemies that could knock them down, but the melee combat rules were otherwise really solid and there were a lot of nice feats and abilities that could be artfully stacked to do whatever kinds of combat you wanted.

Well, I actually play both systems. Its one of the unique things about tabletop RPGs. Even if a new set comes out, you can still play the older version! I have to say that, being a DM myself, there is a lot to like about 4th edition. Its so much easier to run monsters and combat. Its also great being a wizard in 4th, unlimited spells rock. Or, being a warrior that can do more than just swing his great axe once or twice. Also, not being tied down to having to have a cleric in you group is quite pleasant indeed.

I heard the arguement "Its only about Combat!". Thats simply not true. The way I see it, you can run a 4th edition game and have just as much Roleplay as before. It really depends on the group. The games I run have sessions without combat; just pure, in-character, roleplay and exposition. But I've played in games with 3 hour long combat sessions as well. Neither is right or wrong. And if you are in a 4th edition game and feel that its only about combat, then talk to your DM and players! Better yet, stand up and speak in character and inspire your comrades!

I know that the "skill challenge" system has caused some waves too. As a DM, its nice to have a system in place to reward the players for non-combat rolls with actual XP. In my game, I run them secretly. I don't announce the skill challenge at all, as I find that it helps keep the players in character. Also, skill challenges can go on for a lot longer than most think. I've had an investigative skill challenge stretch for 4 in-game days. And the players never knew it! S'great.

The way I viewed 4th edition was as a rules update to smoother, more dynamic tactical combat. But the core concepts, and character of the game stayed the same. Of course, as I have said, I do intend to keep on playing both edtions. I've half a book-case filled with 3.5ed books that I've yet to use to thier fullest!!

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