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

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All I'm going to say is that I don't see why adding dragonborn and tieflings to the core material necessitated the removal of gnomes. Seriously, what the crap?

"I can't imagine how the 10-year-old version of me learned basic Dungeons and Dragons from the old blue book games that I got back in 1981."

Was this guy mildly retarded as a 10 year old? The old blue book is something like 48 pages and most of that was monsters. It's vastly easier to learn than from that compared to the 600 pages of rulebooks in 4e core or even compared to the very incomplete starter set.

The purpose of 4E was to kill the open gaming license. That's why it's so different. They weren't trying to make a better game or anything like that; that's all bullshit. Wizards decided they didn't like people making 3E content without their consent or control. None of the people who crafted 3E or the OGL work there anymore.

4E is a soulless abomination; a twisted shell of wasted potential. Maybe you think it's fun for what it is and enjoy playing it, but it is D&D in name only.

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

Good on you, my friend! 2nd Edition forever!

Yes, I know some of the rules are a bit weird, like the fact that a low AC is a good thing, and that the rules can't make up their mind whether high dice rolls or low dice rolls are better, but I really like 2E all the same. Some people think it's overly complicated, but the fact is that there's a hell of a lot that the rules allow you to do, and it's open-ended enough that you can easily make up your own rules if the official ones don't cover what you want to do.

I will confess to not having played much 4th Edition, but I can see pros and cons for it. It is very streamlined and easy to get into, and is much easier to DM as a result. However, the emphasis on miniatures is overwhelming, and considering that I couldn't care less about buying them, that's a bit of an issue for me. It also bothers me that they basically gutted the alignment system.

2nd Edition is far from a perfect ruleset, but I still really enjoy it.

I like 4e. Play it a lot. I agree with the sentiment that no version is better than any other, except for personal preference. Because of this, I often like to ask people why they personally prefer one version over another.

psrdirector:
3.5 is a more complex game, allows more freedom, and generally allows more ability to do waht you want.

When I get an answer like this, it confuses me. 3.5 as more complex, and more closer to trying to simulate reality, instead of abstract it, I can understand. But allowing more freedom and more ability to do what you want? How so?

I think that a lot of people see the Powers in 4e, and think 'these are my only options'. They don't realize that just because there is no power called 'swing across the room on a chandelier' does not mean that you can't try to do that. The powers are just the things that your character can do really well and have training or expertise in. They are not limitations on what you are capable of.

The problem I have with 4th edition is that it over stream lined literally everything. Ok yes, maybe SOME things could've been a little refined in 3.5 to make them easier to understand but there is such a thing as OVERsimplification. I mean honestly, when I look at those books, I feel I'm looking at a World of Warcraft game manual, and I play tabletop RPGs to get AWAY from games like WoW. There was nothing wrong with the original core races but once again, Wizards want to be more like WoW, so put in magical flashy races that were never intended to played unless the DM permitted it.

And honestly I may be able to get over ALL of that if Wizards hadn't done something so gamebreaking that I refuse to ever play DnD again untill they have no control over the license: Magic is completely and utterly USELESS in 4e. Has anyone else noticed this? Honestly you can't even play as a magic user. Most of the highest level spells in the game are doing 2d10 damage! Seriously what the f*ck? There are level 10 fighter powers that have more power than that. Honestly how can it be a fantasty roleplaying game when everyone either has to be a melee fighter or die?

Up yours Wizards. You took a great game and completely destroyed it. Rolemaster ftw.

Fenixius:

(significant portions chopped out for space)
Then they have some truly radical game mechanic. I've never seen any system which couldn't be min/max'd to have a higher profit than someone who doesn't. There are systems where it's not worth the effort, or where it's not possible to get a huge advantage, but it's definitely present in every single system I've ever seen.

I'm actually not sure how many books they come out with per year. I know they're currently on what they're calling 5th edition, but I couldn't find any noticeable difference between 4th and 5th edition gameplaywise. There were a few minor alterations to the text for clarity, though. They definitely make a profit though. CoC is just one of the products they offer. They did have a bit of a problem in the nineties, when they tried to jump on the trading card fad. That hurt them quite a bit, but they survived, largely on the merit of the CoC game. They've got a lot of products out there for it and they're all really high quality stuff. Even the material they're made from is better quality than WotC.

The genius mechanic of CoC that makes the game unbreakable is that technically, it's not unbreakable, but the powers that could break the game make you go insane, which turns you into an NPC under the control of the GM. You can try to power play in Cthulhu, but the more power you get, the more likely you are to loose control of your character. This forces you to play your character more for cunning than for power.

Really, I didn't start this with the intention of an "edition war." I was commenting to someone who'd already voiced his dislike of 4E and chatting with him. This is my real problem with 4E people. I can tell you what I like about 3E and why 4E doesn't do the things I like and I can do it in a logical manner and I assume that the same can be done with 4E, because in many ways, the system is fairly solid and there are elements that I do think are good, but I've only ever run into two people who actually did argue it logically. With most people, it's just "I like 4E, so fuck you." That kind of approach is a personal pet peeve of mine (peeves make such lovely pets, but they do so get under your skin) and so my reaction is just as much against the people who argue for it as it is against the game.

Alex_P:
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?"

Ah, now there's a more rational and valid argument then I'm used to getting in this debate. Certain elements of combat could get very obnoxious in 3E, which is why it's one of the things we house-ruled a lot. At the same time, however, these rarely became issues for me in play, because we emphasized role playing really heavily when we played. We made skills more important than feats or abilities and when actual combat came up, it rarely lasted more than a few rounds because of how we approached it. With this as the emphasis, being able to build a wide variety of characters was a lot more important than building powerful characters.
But now we're straying into that rational territory that must admit that it's all a matter of what you're playing like and what you're trying to accomplish and that's not as fun as the shouty swearing fests that most of these debates come down to. It certainly doesn't leave me with enough room to make a complete ass of myself and where's the fun in that?

I'll still argue that the books are insultingly dumbed down in their writing, though. Not any clearer in their prose, just dumbed down.

Tolerant Fanboy:
All I'm going to say is that I don't see why adding dragonborn and tieflings to the core material necessitated the removal of gnomes. Seriously, what the crap?

They weren't removed from the game - just from the first book. Gnomes are included briefly (as playable!) in the Monster Manual #1, and in much more depth in Player's Handbook #2. Enjoy ^^

Grampy_bone:
4E is a soulless abomination; a twisted shell of wasted potential. Maybe you think it's fun for what it is and enjoy playing it, but it is D&D in name only.

You know, I wouldn't care what it's called except that I very likely wouldn't have found it if it wasn't called "Dungeons & Dragons". So I'm glad they did call it that, and that's that.

Mezmer:
Up yours Wizards. You took a great game and completely destroyed it.

Your game is a couple shelves down, right where you left it. New stuff does not invalidate the old. And given the advantages from 4th regarding DMing, and character creation speed, I'd be more inclined to balance it myself than switch edition just so mages could be as useful lategame. I have a house rule where all implements confer a proficiency bonus, just as martial weapons do. Balances a -lot- nicer.

RJ Dalton:
The genius mechanic of CoC that makes the game unbreakable is that technically, it's not unbreakable, but the powers that could break the game make you go insane, which turns you into an NPC under the control of the GM.

Yup, that's a good way to balance it. No more having that one horribly OP'd rogue in your party who'll face-stab everything like the laggiest Spy you've ever seen in TF2. That system sounds good, but I'll probably not try it due to time constraints (I don't really have time to DM my own 4th campaign at the moment...) and just that I'm not interested in the Lovecraftian setting. I hope you get maximum enjoyment out of it, RJ Dalton.

RJ Dalton:
Really, I didn't start this with the intention of an "edition war." I was commenting to someone who'd already voiced his dislike of 4E and chatting with him. This is my real problem with 4E people. I can tell you what I like about 3E and why 4E doesn't do the things I like and I can do it in a logical manner and I assume that the same can be done with 4E, because in many ways, the system is fairly solid and there are elements that I do think are good, but I've only ever run into two people who actually did argue it logically. With most people, it's just "I like 4E, so fuck you." That kind of approach is a personal pet peeve of mine (peeves make such lovely pets, but they do so get under your skin) and so my reaction is just as much against the people who argue for it as it is against the game.

Well, I never did intend to rile anyone up, or get under anyone's skin. So if I've offended you, then I apologise. I do, however, enjoy a robust discussion, even if the devil's in the details and we need to comb the rules and books with a fine-grain comb. There are plenty of people who favour 3.5 or other systems, and fail to argue those effectively, too, of course, right alongside the people who you just described who advocate 4th. It's not really worth arguing with the intent of changing anyone's mind; but I find it to be very interesting to find out what systems people like, what they like about them, hear about good experiences they've had and so on.

To that end, I consider the discussion in this thread to be quite successful compared to other ones I've seen.

Edit: Whoops, had to chop and change a bit there to fit in another response without double-posting! If you're responding to this, you might wanna double-check my post as opposed to the one in your message inbox if you have notifications turned on. I don't know if that updates when I change this one.

maybe it's the warhammer but I managed to commit fourth edition d&d to memory in one read through, i vastly preferred the few times i played third ed. also the new races feel so extra-ordinary. they all sound like one-per-country special characters rather than races to be played.

Fenixius:

Well, I never did intend to rile anyone up, or get under anyone's skin. So if I've offended you, then I apologise. I do, however, enjoy a robust discussion, even if the devil's in the details and we need to comb the rules and books with a fine-grain comb. There are plenty of people who favour 3.5 or other systems, and fail to argue those effectively, too, of course, right alongside the people who you just described who advocate 4th. It's not really worth arguing with the intent of changing anyone's mind; but I find it to be very interesting to find out what systems people like, what they like about them, hear about good experiences they've had and so on.

Yeah, it wasn't you, it was a couple of the earlier people who got me going. You just replied and there was room for more points to make (and I'm the sort of guy who can't resist making points (I'm an arrogant jackass, or something)), so I made them. You actually calmed me down quite a bit.
And rest assured, I will enjoy CoC.

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

What game(s) would you suggest that do involve them?

yellerSumner:

Alex_P:
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.

What game(s) would you suggest that do involve them?

Here's a few that I think are pretty cool, chosen in part because they take notably different approaches to how exactly personality stuff impacts the game, and they've got very different rules altogether:

In Three Sixteen: Carnage Amongst the Stars, the characters start out as practically-interchangeable grunts, but don't have much hope for long-term survival unless you accessorize them with emotional scars during play. When the shit hits the fan, your strongest resource is the ability to invoke a "flashback" to a life-changing past experience and use the amazing strength of character or humiliating personal flaw that it gave you to get out of your current seemingly-unwinnable situation.

The Shadow of Yesterday, the XP system is based on choosing what you get rewarded for. The game mechanics allow you to say "My character gets XP for being a coward, for working to destroy the government, and for pursuing his forbidden love," and, boom, that is what gets you points to advance your abilities. The real awesome thing is that the game encourages you to change over time. If you're playing that guy and you decide to overcome your cowardice, reject your anarchism, or spurn the person you thought you loved, that advances the game, too. The nice thing about this structure is that the stuff on your character sheet serves to remind you and everyone else at the table what kinds of things you're interested in having your character do.

In Mouse Guard, your character sheet has a space for a Belief -- some aspect of your overarching life philosophy, a Goal -- something you're going to try to accomplish this session, and an Instinct -- a trademark pattern of behavior. There's various ways these things influence the other rules, but I mostly notice them just all by themselves, just sitting there on that sheet as something to look at: Instinct gives you a nice reminder of your character's moment-to-moment personality, your Goal lets you take the larger purpose of the adventure and personalize it (Sure, maybe you're all going off to patrol for snake eggs or find a missing caravan or deliver the mail, but what's in it for you?), and your Belief defines a long-term thing for the other players to challenge and explore.

-- Alex

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.

There's a great open source virtual tabletop--rptools.net, easy to use and pretty darn good. I have been running a weekly game using it, we use the 4e framework (allowing us to make 4e tokens), and we do the talking in the client chat and on Ventrilo. Check it out.

All you guys whining about "wah wah I play 3e and will never change", well, it's gone, the books are getting older and the canon is evolving. The books will eventually get harder and harder to find, bla bla bla. You're using windows 98 while everyone else has upgraded to windows 7 (insert snarky 'win 7 is unstable/buggy' jokes here). Whether you like it or not, that's what WOTC did, and if you're now snuggled up to pathfinder, well, have fun. I was able to get 10 people who never touched an RPG to play 4e. I don't think I could have convinced them to start playing a game that is mostly out of print and yadda yadda, whatever.

My point is, it's a freaking ROLE-PLAYING game. It's as DARK or WHIMSICAL or whatever the eff you want it to be (houserules, anyone?). If you think it's cartoony, wtf, you MADE UP THE CAMPAIGN. Maybe you should throw some dark shit in there, dummy. The game is simply a framework for deciding if ITEM A hits ITEM B, or if PC/NPC A learns THING B. The rest is all you and your storytelling. The game doesn't even come into it half the time, we're just talking and making the occasional roll.

Quit being a buncha babies and play the damn game, if you don't like 4e, go play Pathfinder and spend your time buying gnawed-on used supplements on Amazon, type your "i hate 4e' manifesto on your win98 eMachine, and while you're at it, wash your Frankie Say Relax tee shirt. The rest of us will be playing a modern RPG that works simply and effectively.

It's about getting together and having fun with friends. I play 4e, but I also play some old 2e stuff, and I play Earthdawn weekly. Gonna try mouseguard too. My favorite game of all time was MERP. And guess what-during the game, except for the different dice shapes, you wouldn't know what freaking game you're playing. It's all about the RP.

71gamer:
I was able to get 10 people who never touched an RPG to play 4e. I don't think I could have convinced them to start playing a game that is mostly out of print and yadda yadda, whatever.

I'm not sure newbies would necessarily care whether a game was in print, though. Especially if they start out thinking of RPGs as self-contained games (like board games) rather than a subscription-like product that you keep buying more and more of.

71gamer:
My point is, it's a freaking ROLE-PLAYING game. It's as DARK or WHIMSICAL or whatever the eff you want it to be (houserules, anyone?). If you think it's cartoony, wtf, you MADE UP THE CAMPAIGN. Maybe you should throw some dark shit in there, dummy. The game is simply a framework for deciding if ITEM A hits ITEM B, or if PC/NPC A learns THING B. The rest is all you and your storytelling. The game doesn't even come into it half the time, we're just talking and making the occasional roll.

The system does a lot. Just as stories emerge from moment-to-moment interactions, the basic cause-and-effect and currency relationships defined by the game rules

You're right that you can hack it up as you go, but I believe really doing so effectively requires more game-design knowledge than most hobbyists possess. Heck, I'd go so far as to assert that many RPG writers don't really have that level of game-design expertise, but at least when you buy their stuff they've already refined their ideas through several waves of playtesting.

I'd much rather have game rules that support the tone and content I want. Anything else forces me to do all this extra work just to keep the game rules from getting in the way -- at that rate, I find myself spending half the session thinking "Maybe I should just throw out this stupid system altogether?" I just find it so weird that people are actually proud of doing all this extra behind-the-scenes GM scutwork just to make an ill-fitting system kinda work instead of changing it out for a new one (nowadays; I used to think this was a normal part of play).

So, yeah, you can do dark or whimsical or whatever else you want in D&D. But, as long as you're playing D&D, it's going to have this D&D aftertaste, some layers of which are particular to a certain edition. If some folks just plain hates the 4th Edition aftertaste, I can't blame 'em (well, until they open their mouth to make a bunch of unfounded accusations in order to try to somehow justify their preferences).

-- Alex

((Please ignore, I didnt realize this was 'THAT' old))

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