The New Oral Tradition

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Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Just... see above. And maybe try reading the book for yourself ok?

I'll ignore the condescending tone of your opening line, as it may not have been intentional.

You failed to understand that it's the presentation of 4E that strongly reminds me of WoW, not just specifics. Like it or not, when I see 4E D&D, I see WoW railroad talent trees.

Sure, I enjoy 4E, and it's my favorite version of D&D. I've been playing RPGs for about 14 years now, and I've played a lot of them. D&D is not even my favorite RPG. I encourage anyone to play whichever game, whichever genre, whichever ruleset appeals to them the most. I just get sick of the insults, infighting, and flaming like there's only one right way to play and one right game to play. Unless you like FATAL or Worlds of Synnibar because then you're obviously wrong.

I agree. If you enjoy 4E, then play it.
The wonderful thing about tabletops is that old versions are never strictly outdated.
Yet somehow...people seem to assume that the older game shouldn't be played because there is a "Newer, better version out now!"

However, I completely dislike the style in which 4E is presented; and whether you think so or not, it reminds me of World of Warcraft to a scary degree, which is not a pleasant association to make.
But it would be a very smart decision for Wizards of the Coast to make. That's a rather large market to target. Anything that would make that market more accepting (especially if this would be their first Tabletop ever) could only work into their favor.

It's just too much of a coincidence to ignore.

So sorry if I'm not buying the "It lacks DPS, Aggro, etc etc" argument.

...Oh, and thanks for reminding me of F.A.T.A.L.
Like I needed more night terrors that have me wake up screaming "WHY IS THERE A URINATION CHECK GODDAMNIT??!! WHY? WHY?!!"

It was more that you seemed to totally miss my previous post wherein I described why it's not a powergamer supplement, and you proceeded to call it as such. In retrospect that was more condescending than it sounded in my head, so I apologize. Still, look through my other posts, you'll see the refuting of the very statement you make, and I make no bones about calling out the author of the article for his mislabeling causing you or any other reader the confusion it did.

WoW railroad talent trees? How? Feats which have been in D&D since forever? Powers which while new in name, have been around in spirit through spell lists or things like a fighter's Power Attack? No game is totally freeform, so I don't understand what you're getting at here. 4E merely has what every other game has, condensed so that learning the game and the mechanics involved are uniform whether I want to play a Ranger, a Wizard, a Paladin, or a Shaman, or an Assassin, or whatever. This leads to an easier to understand, easier to operate, easier to appreciate, and more streamlined product.

Now, will I deny that there's some influence from WoW? Of course not, WoW is heavily influential in its own regard, but I'd say that WoW is, itself, just another symptom of a changing culture, and not the driving force itself.

So you say that, despite no mechanical similarities, 4E still reminds you of WoW. The art style perhaps, which has noooooooo bearing on your game? There's no real aggro (in fact, I'd argue that Aggro is merely the game attempting to simulate the human intelligence that a DM provides, so in a way, Aggro has always been a part of D&D), there's no DPS, there's no mana, there's no respawning bosses or mobs, there's no grinding or farming, there's no "OOOH an eternium vein!", there's no locking into one class, there's the same roleplaying and dynamic stories that you and your friends make up... 4E = WoW holds no water.

Also you're welcome for reminding you ;)

[ IMHO the edition warring in became tiresome 2 years ago. Made me effectively skip all the comments. ]

I believe the new "oral tradition" is captured in the Wizards podcasts nowadays.
The Penny Arcade and Robot Chicken episodes show new gamers how the game can be played.

It would be interesting to know if these reach a wider audience than the Player's Strategy Guide.

There are also other, non-WotC live action podcasts that can be very useful for new DMs:

Icosahedrophilia -
Thursday Knights -
Even with video:

I wish I had access to resources like these when I started playing D&D 18 years ago.

I tried hard to learn 4E, but this article is plain wrong. DMG/2 and PHB2 (3.5) have extensive outlines of roleplaying techniques, including character demeanours and archetypes (like tricksters, explorers, rebels, daredevils) .... Loads of them infact, as well as a warning to people who do hog the spotlight to expect everybody to hate you at the proverbial table.

I dislike 4e because it's not a gaming system as well thought out as 3rd/3.5. It's 'dumbed down' ... people can throw the 'hater' label on my comment, but I challenge those who do to describe why this is 'hate' rather than 'commentary'

Good roleplaying is good roleplaying. You don't need to say 'oh that's good roleplaying' because it's usually visible from the onset.

Sure it's handy to have a guide saying 'this might be a good character angle to come from' ... but some people know this from the onset ... some people (generally non-powergamers) see feats and say 'hey that will be interesting and fun to roleplay', like an Evil Brand or Dark Speech feat.

This is an inbuilt thing. Some players think 'roleplaying' a character more important than 'trying to beat the game with maths' ... and this is why powergamers are alot of he time not very good roleplayers. But a good DM should exude an environment where roleplaying and skills associated with roleplaying (diplomacy, bluff, sense motive) are just as crucial as that critical hit on a monster threatening to dispatch a PC.

Life and death should hang on whether a pc can twist the ears of a potential enemy that has the power to behead every PC in the party.

Eventually PCs will start actually roleplaying (and investing) in communication skills. Or hopefully, somebody will realise the power of the Bard class of whom isn't such a huge boon to the party in combat, but is heroic in other ways.

Roleplaying is synonymous with the commuicative skills (bluff, intimidate, diplomacy) ... and if this is given just as much importance as combat I think roleplaying is a natural occurence.

I don't really care how your gaming group plays. If you want to do it one way, that's fine.If you guys just want to powergame through everything in your group, go right ahead. It doesn't hurt my gaming experience. I've had entire 4+ hour sessions where I've never had to pick up dice, and they were a blast.

If you want to run in our group, you have to follow our rules. We don't really have many, but they are important rules.

I've found out that one of the best things to do if you're going to start taking on new players is to answer their questions. Sometimes things which you think are simple, might be very confusing to someone new. I cut my console gaming teeth on the old NES, then up to an SNES, then the PS1. Adding a couple of buttons every generation was a nice new trick they came up with, but I got into it. I don't know exactly how I would teach someone who's never played a game before how to start with an X-box 360 controller, because I didn't start with something that complex(We think it's simple, but there are a LOT of buttons on that thing to someone who's never played a with a controller before).

Whoops, sorry about the rant there.

A how-to guide to optimize specific character traits? My god, this couldn't be more twinky if it was written in cream filling on yellow cake...

I will omit any opinion I have on 4e, having never played it. I am enjoying campaigns of both Exalted and Pathfinder at the moment, though.

In response to Crunchy English (at the top of page 1),this is exactly the kind of approach we should bear in mind. D&D, of course, is a game, and can be played however you want to. The thing I kind of dislike about all this D&D commentary is a lot of people (including WotC) are alienating players in the process of trying to be helpful. It doesn't make any sense, but I think game designers gave up a long time ago and have turned to moneymaking practices.

WoW railroad talent trees? How? Feats which have been in D&D since forever?

You are aware that there was a time not that long ago when D&D did not have feats at all, right?


I believe the new "oral tradition" is captured in the Wizards podcasts nowadays.
The Penny Arcade and Robot Chicken episodes show new gamers how the game can be played.

Let me just say that I think those Robot Chicken videos are awful. They are amusing to watch and all, but if this is what the creators of D&D think an RPG session should look like, I'll just stand over there in the corner and cry myself to sleep.

Seriously, that one session they're playing is atrocious. The worst possible way of introducing the hobby to new people is to make it a chore, and that's exactly what the GM did there...

For some more thoughts on that, I put down an entry in my gaming blog a while back. Have a look.

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