271: Red Box Renaissance

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Hmm, sounds to me like WotC don't quite get the issue for some of us. The 4e ruleset wasn't too difficult to learn, nor was it aimed at existing dnd players. It was aimed at video gamers, specifically MMO players of games like WoW. The ramp up time for a new player to DnD on 4e was about an hour, while in 3.5 it was usually 4-8 hours if the person was playing an easy class. (these numbers being for people who had NEVER played before without anyone to help them).

The problem with 4e is it is too narrow and restrictive. With DnD games past, you could have all kinds of interesting characters, and they felt deep and interesting. One of my more shallow characters was a fighter who always had an obsene amount of weapons. Ideally it was a piercing, slashing, bashing weapon somewhere, plus a ranged and close. With Quickdraw he was able to pull these as a free action, so in a large fight he was a whirl of metal and damage. With 4e, stuff like this isn't really doable. Sure you can have all those weapons, but there isn't a point. Just take a sword and your set.

Also, in version past, you felt like an adventurer in a world where people like you were common. You weren't some adventurer blessed by the gods for some epic quests. You were a group of normal people put in an extreme situation and you grew into a powerful party by experience, not because you just want to be a demigod at level 30.

That's not to say 4e is a bad game, nor that it doesn't have it's place in modern tabletop gaming, but the issue is simply that it is called DnD, when it lost all the small things that made dnd great.

That matter of taste came up alot in the other thread, But I'm getting to that.

We have been having a similar thread in the comments to the full interview

Which is hardly surprising if my understanding is correct and Archon posted that partially as an update to this - I was unaware this thread was still active, and have to restrain myself from repeating the same discussions.

If anyone is interested, there is a pretty in-depth series about the history of D&D up to 3rd edition, especially part 3 was very interesting to ME, since I was aware of it, but in the pre-internet age, people at the very fringes of the industry had little access to hwat was happening - we knew what we were seeing but rarely why.

The decisions made in 3rd edition, and then again in 4th, really challenge some of the fundamentals - and as to paraphrase several posters here, I think it is fair to say each has metagame assumptions - and dependent mechanics- that either do, or do not, suit your play style, and your "flavor" of fantasy...

PxDn Ninja:
"Also, in version past, you felt like an adventurer in a world where people like you were common. You weren't some adventurer blessed by the gods for some epic quests. You were a group of normal people put in an extreme situation and you grew into a powerful party by experience, not because you just want to be a demigod at level 30."

Indeed. My personal preference & playstyle and campaign would not be well-served by a system that expects lvl 1 characters to be able to teleport or breathe fire, for example, but it's a matter of taste... and were I to run a campaign where the PC's were, for example, minor scions of Birthright ( sorcerers in my old 3e game were ), it would fit just fine.
This has also revolved around a discussion of "dissociated mechanics"


Alot of the "nerd rage" is as understandable as a comic to movie "translation" - people have imagery or ideas of how it "should be" - and that' sacred to them. In this it gets lost that one preference or another is not necessarily the "right" or only way -
the related concern of course is whether it's symptomatic of a loss in interest in what made RPG's MORE than a set of squad-tactical miniatures combats.

And I joked that in some respects, if the game goes back to more casual "hack and slash", in some respects that would be MORE the original game :)

Anyone interested in all this discussion I encourage to look at the history article i linked, and perhaps compare your thoughts - and the theme of this discussion with it's twin sister on the other thread.

As a post script, I noticed 4E fighters coming up a bit in this thread, and my personal opinion was that 3E gave fighters amazing options and flexibility through feat choices, in fact people often grabbed a level or two fighter to GET such options. That's pretty incidental of course.

PxDn Ninja:
Also, in version past, you felt like an adventurer in a world where people like you were common. You weren't some adventurer blessed by the gods for some epic quests. You were a group of normal people put in an extreme situation and you grew into a powerful party by experience, not because you just want to be a demigod at level 30.

Pretty much. And when you were that pasty 1 hit and you're dead wizard, every victory was like wine. Surviving and winning when you were a piece of paper facing a ginsu knife (metaphorically) was more of a thrill than facing off against 30 Kobolds when you're the 10th level fighter, which seems to be more of the way it is in 4th edition.

I also have to say that the "adventure nights" 4e is sponsoring don't interest someone like me (the ones where everyone plays the same module) because it's an unbroken string of combat-skill check- combat- skill check- combat, and if you are unlucky, two combats in a row. That just doesn't sound all that interesting to me.

PxDn Ninja:
The problem with 4e is it is too narrow and restrictive. With DnD games past, you could have all kinds of interesting characters, and they felt deep and interesting. One of my more shallow characters was a fighter who always had an obsene amount of weapons. Ideally it was a piercing, slashing, bashing weapon somewhere, plus a ranged and close. With Quickdraw he was able to pull these as a free action, so in a large fight he was a whirl of metal and damage. With 4e, stuff like this isn't really doable. Sure you can have all those weapons, but there isn't a point. Just take a sword and your set.

To me, character classes were always "narrow and restrictive". Even the simple old-timey paint-on-top-of-this-blank-canvas classes. The decades of class kits and prestige classes featured book after book of hyper-specialized classes one-note PC classes.

There's a thing about 4th Edition classes that makes them feel oddly specific, yes, but at least they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Its direct predecessor (D&D3) was much more prone to hiding the pigeonholing with a thin veneer of "YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!!" Then you'd go and do something only to realize the game system was punishing you quite severely for not sticking to a particular narrow set of strategies and "build" choices. For example...

In D&D3, walking around with a golfbag of weapons was only good for overcoming Damage Reduction. Other than that (and fiddling with reach, perhaps), there was no real benefit to switching between weapons. And there was a strong penalty for doing it, too, because the game expected you to be pouring your money into perpetually upgrading/replacing one obscenely-expensive magic weapon to keep up with monsters, not spreading that cash around on half a dozen different tools. It's exactly like you said: "Sure, you can have all those weapons, but there isn't a point."

PxDn Ninja:
Also, in version past, you felt like an adventurer in a world where people like you were common.

The idea of "adventurer" as an honest-to-goodness profession is pretty nutty. It very quickly turns the whole world into a hodgepodge of "adventure locations" -- quite antithetical to the "old school" tendency towards surrounding the weird in normalcy in order to make it stand out more, certainly.

I'd rather games didn't make "adventurers" the cornerstone of their setting structure (doesn't stop almost all of them from trying, though, including, of course, D&D4).

Plus, isn't "everybody's an adventurer" exactly the kind of MMOG-style thing that people bash so much?

PxDn Ninja:
You weren't some adventurer blessed by the gods for some epic quests. You were a group of normal people put in an extreme situation and you grew into a powerful party by experience, not because you just want to be a demigod at level 30.

The "ascending to demigod" shtick isn't new to D&D. Look up what happens after level 36 in Mentzer D&D, for example.

Moreover, most D&D characters in pretty much any edition don't just become more skilled as they gain levels, but turn into wuxia superheroes operating on a scale completely different from the one they started on. D&D3 doesn't use the word "demigod", but what else is a level 20 character? Certainly not anything resembling a regular flesh-and-blood person.

PxDn Ninja:
That's not to say 4e is a bad game, nor that it doesn't have it's place in modern tabletop gaming, but the issue is simply that it is called DnD, when it lost all the small things that made dnd great.

That charge has been leveled at every new game bearing the label "Dungeons & Dragons". The original AD&D was certainly quite the sea change. D&D3 threw out most of the "small things" its predecessors were doing, too.

And, oftentimes, that "throwing away" is healthy. It's better for the design than trying to keep all these little elements that don't quite fit anymore because the bigger thing that drove their inclusion in the first place has changed. Not cleaning up these proud nails just leaves you with little warts, like paladin multi-classing in 3rd Edition.

-- Alex

Badger Kyre:
Alot of the "nerd rage" is as understandable as a comic to movie "translation" - people have imagery or ideas of how it "should be" - and that' sacred to them. In this it gets lost that one preference or another is not necessarily the "right" or only way -
the related concern of course is whether it's symptomatic of a loss in interest in what made RPG's MORE than a set of squad-tactical miniatures combats.

What frustrates me deeply is that those same charges were totally leveled at 3rd Edition, but somehow all its fans just up and forgot that by now.

Badger Kyre:
And I joked that in some respects, if the game goes back to more casual "hack and slash", in some respects that would be MORE the original game :)

IIRC, the original game didn't actually hand out any experience points for combat.

Badger Kyre:
As a post script, I noticed 4E fighters coming up a bit in this thread, and my personal opinion was that 3E gave fighters amazing options and flexibility through feat choices, in fact people often grabbed a level or two fighter to GET such options. That's pretty incidental of course.

Of all the sort of RPG characters out there, I love fighty folks -- battle-hardened soldiers, well-traveled mercenaries, street toughs full of adolescent bravado, pillage-happy evil overlords -- the most. That had a big hand in why I quit D&D altogether: it's just really damn lame to play a sword-ringer. The games just don't capture the flow of combat, the tension of positioning, feints, counterattacks.

In many ways, D&D occupies the worst middle ground here. The exciting in-the-moment choices of face-to-face combat are abstracted away, but you're still stuck rolling dice over and over again to see how well you swing your sword. D&D3 tried to make fighters exciting with feats, but the base system made for a terrible foundation: clunky timings, constant encouragement to stay still, and mechanics that reward piling on bonuses much more than they reward making the right tactical risk. And don't forget D&D's perpetual affectation for hit points and magic items, too. Piling a few special attacks on top of that is putting lipstick on a pig.

(D&D4 actually gets some points from me for fixing some of this crap. "Surges" are a decent improvement to the HP system, for example. And I like that the fighter has more of an in-your-face feel, quite a bit like the warrior in Guild Wars, a fairly deep and fun tactical game. It's not my bag -- and too little, too late for D&D to win me back -- but, hey, at least it shows that someone gets it.)

-- Alex

Alex_P:
In many ways, D&D occupies the worst middle ground here. The exciting in-the-moment choices of face-to-face combat are abstracted away, but you're still stuck rolling dice over and over again to see how well you swing your sword. D&D3 tried to make fighters exciting with feats, but the base system made for a terrible foundation: clunky timings, constant encouragement to stay still, and mechanics that reward piling on bonuses much more than they reward making the right tactical risk. And don't forget D&D's perpetual affectation for hit points and magic items, too. Piling a few special attacks on top of that is putting lipstick on a pig.

(D&D4 actually gets some points from me for fixing some of this crap. "Surges" are a decent improvement to the HP system, for example. And I like that the fighter has more of an in-your-face feel, quite a bit like the warrior in Guild Wars, a fairly deep and fun tactical game. It's not my bag -- and too little, too late for D&D to win me back -- but, hey, at least it shows that someone gets it.) -- Alex

Out of curiosity, what *is* your game of choice for fantasy tabletop RPGs, especially given that you like melee combat? I.e. what do you recommend.

Archon:
Out of curiosity, what *is* your game of choice for fantasy tabletop RPGs, especially given that you like melee combat? I.e. what do you recommend.

For crunchy combat, I like Burning Wheel (the most recent edition, known as "Revised"). The game's melee combat subsystem involves "scripting" -- plotting out your moves several actions ahead, -- requiring you to guess your opponent's moves and manage his future opportunities.

I've tried other stuff like Reign and Riddle of Steel, but whats puts BW above the rest is the pure polish -- positioning, grappling, counterattacks, feints, armor, and wounds all combine into a very harmonious (and evocative) whole. It's easy to use one-roll resolution for pretty much anything, too, to keep less dramatic combat scenes from bogging down the game.

It also helps that the rest of the game is exactly the kind of thing I want. :)

-- Alex

Ah, ok! I checked out Burning Wheel and could certainly see the appeal. It's a well-designed game.

Alex_P:

(D&D4 actually gets some points from me for fixing some of this crap. "Surges" are a decent improvement to the HP system, for example. And I like that the fighter has more of an in-your-face feel, quite a bit like the warrior in Guild Wars, a fairly deep and fun tactical game. It's not my bag -- and too little, too late for D&D to win me back -- but, hey, at least it shows that someone gets it.)

-- Alex

I thought surges were more of the same "dissociated mechanics" that has been a bugbear of D&D since day 1 - hit points were supposed to represent NOT GETTING HURT in the first place ( V&V had "power" that represented it better IMO, and has popped up other places )

The only thing 4th added IMO was your combat skill making you harder to hit, which was a no-brainer in most games from LONG ago.

If you want to talk about REAL OPTIONS in combat being as or more important than abstract - this dice represents a "round of combat" that most tabletop uses, let's see, there was MAGIC REALMS, Nova Game's diceless "Lost Worlds", an Avalon Hill Gladiator game I can't recall, and Knights of Legend ( origin ) - that gave you real options in combat ( ie player decisions on a blow by blow basis ).

As to Guild Wars, I ENJOY THE HELL out of it, but let's be honest, unless you mean PvE, the combats in GW have as much to do with any kind of reasonable fighting simulation as Tetris does. And the Warrior has CONSIDERABLY fewer options than one in 3rd is likely to, even my warrior-priest, it's still maxed at 8; and most of the "options" are really "special attacks" that cause wounds that should be consequent of ANY time you are stabbing or hitting someone.

3rd has ALOT of issues and inconsistencies; but lack of fighter options and tactical sense aren't EITHER --and DOES NOT encourage standing still
A fight in 3rd turns into a swirl of "5'steps" - which in 4th is represented also, just not as logically - the fights tend to be people manuevering in melee - and I suspect you should watch an SCA fight or a boxing match if you think the guild wars/mmo combat is better simulating anything but a GAME.

That had a big hand in why I quit D&D altogether: it's just really damn lame to play a sword-ringer. The games just don't capture the flow of combat, the tension of positioning, feints, counterattacks.

I simply disagree in that i think it captures it BETTER:
I think you mean "positioning" and 3rd used the "drift" (5' step)and threaten "attacks of opportunity" mechanics to represent the swirl of melee - I suspect "marks" were supposed to represent some of the same things, just "mmo style".
D&D online , btw, used 3rd/3.5 ed and in "real-timing" it dropped the concept of "engagement"
with some success - and ended up quite a bit like GW - two of the only "fast" MMO's. Also, in both D&DO and my campaign, I saw MANY builds, and I didn't hear too many people complain that they were "gimped" or penalized for not playing a specific build, other than the issue with 2-hand weapons ( i did NOT say 3rd was flawless, simply that I disagree what the flaws WERE).
I believe "engagement" was what 4th was trying to reflect with the "mark" mechanic, I just ... don't like it much myself.
As to parries, feints, etc, 3d had feints, but, primarily, I agree with you - and thus what i said about options and other games having a "skill versus skill" rather than "skill versus armor" to hit mechanic ( a relic of the D&D "hero" figure and it's extra hit points) - and yes, 4th at least tried by giving you a bit of hero-system "defensive combat value" in terms of skill based "AC" bonus. ( man-to-man/gurps, and runequest, etc, had "active defenses" that are less abstract - but slower mechanically. warhammer used straight skill vs skill "to hit" )
Mostly, I agree in that MOST games abstract what happens in a round - and thus I named off exceptions that didn't. Whether or not that degree of abstraction is a problem is a matter of taste. certainly when one watches

. "Realistically", between fairly matched opponents, six, or 10, or even 1-minute rounds, may not be all that long - an uneven match can be over VERY quickly.

Despite our niggling differences of opinion, I suspect I would ALSO enjoy "Burning Sands" quite a bit. ( i googled it and seem to get unrelated junk so far )

HOWEVER I think the real discussion has been whether people think 4th Ed served their style of gameplay, or not, and I don't think your responses changed anyone's opinion on that.
I'd like to point out that as far as I can see, most people who didn't like 4th, are also the same ones who have been leery of D&D/TSR/ WOTC since the 80's overhaul of the "theme".

wrong thread:
ps, Dark Sun may be a bad example - it is low-loot but HIGH fantasy.

I suspect that the settings changes mentioned wouldn't address many of the "meta-game" issues that flavor 4th ( loot isn't the issue ). IF i am mistaken, pardon my ignorance of the menu/setting you refer to.

Badger Kyre:
I thought surges were more of the same "dissociated mechanics" that has been a bugbear of D&D since day 1 - hit points were supposed to represent NOT GETTING HURT in the first place ( V&V had "power" that represented it better IMO, and has popped up other places )

Surges fit well with the concept of hit points as stamina - you get to take a breather and regain some of your vigor. Cure Light Wounds introduces way more "dissociation" than surges do.

Badger Kyre:
As to Guild Wars, I ENJOY THE HELL out of it, but let's be honest, unless you mean PvE, the combats in GW have as much to do with any kind of reasonable fighting simulation as Tetris does. And the Warrior has CONSIDERABLY fewer options than one in 3rd is likely to, even my warrior-priest, it's still maxed at 8; and most of the "options" are really "special attacks" that cause wounds that should be consequent of ANY time you are stabbing or hitting someone.

I'm not at all holding Guild Wars up as an example of complex or (god forbid) realistic sword-fighting. I'm holding it up as an example of a fun squad-based tactical game (one which doesn't really do nuanced hand-to-hand fighting at all). Which is the pen-and-paper niche that D&D4 serves well, in my view.

Looking at your bar and seeing 8 options is way too reductive. What makes the game worthwhile, especially in PvP, is knowing when to use that slowing attack or interrupt or knockdown, when to go for big damage and when to conserve your resources, when to overextend and when to pull back. The GW Warrior and D&D4 Fighter have a lot in common -- they're both "sticky" opponents who are tough to bring down but difficult to ignore.

Badger Kyre:

3rd has ALOT of issues and inconsistencies; and DOES NOT encourage standing still -- but lack of fighter options and tactical sense aren't EITHER.
A fight in 3rd turns into a swirl of "5'steps" - which in 4th is represented also, just not as logically - the fights tend to be people manuevering in melee - and I suspect you should watch an SCA fight or a boxing match if you think the guild wars/mmo combat is better simulating anything but a GAME.

The five-foot step is still a big-grid thing; it's for moving around the big battle map trying to inch closer to another opponent or close off some path an enemy has. A real fight's full of much more subtle motion as well -- the kinds of situations where an extra six inches of reach makes all the difference. That's the stuff that most RPGs ignore -- often quite oddly, because they get into so many of these other details of fighting (called shots! critical hit tables! 1001 special attack feats!) but basically just have miniatures standing next to each other slugging it out.

Badger Kyre:
I think you mean "positioning" and 3rd used the "drift" mechanic and threaten "attacks of opportunity" to represent the swirl of melee - I suspect "marks" were supposed to represent some of the same things, just "mmo style".

I mean subtle positioning (see above).

Think about it this way: replace D&D's typical multi-combatant "swirl of melee" with a duel. See how little the fighters are actually doing now? Sure, they can move around, but there's very little to actually gain from it unless they're part of a much bigger group battle.

Badger Kyre:
HOWEVER I think the real discussion has been whether people think 4th Ed served their style of gameplay, or not, and I don't think your responses changed anyone's opinion on that.

Well, all I'm doing is taking people's claims about what they like and don't like at face value, but casting the net wider than just 4th Edition. Like, for example, if you hate demigods (and, actually, I know I do), it stands to reason that this is a black mark not just for 4th Edition, but for other games that did the exact same thing. And if it turns out you don't, then it's time to step back and wonder "Okay, where's my actual dislike of this thing coming from?"

I don't want to change anyone's play preferences -- just strip away surface statements that I think aren't actually reflective of why someone prefers Game X or Edition Y.

Badger Kyre:
ps, Dark Sun may be a bad example - it is low-loot but HIGH fantasy.

Enh? I'm confused about this last bit -- what is it in reply to?

-- Alex

Edit: Fixed quote.

Alex_P:
GOOD STUFF

DAMMIT.

i was posting a well-thought out ( IMO ) point by point, when the cat decided teh best way to get fed was to walk on the keyboard, and the browes doesn't seem to have my reply now.

I am a little too frustrated to reply now.

ANYWAY - sounds like we disagree only in details.

I don't want to change anyone's play preferences -- just strip away surface statements that I think aren't actually reflective of why someone prefers Game X or Edition Y.

And that's fair. to summarize the part i was jsut typing - DAMMIT -
but i don't think these ARe surface statements, I think the overall issue is whether or not the mechanics of 4th on a metagame level represent the game people want to play - the discussion on "dissociated mechanics" keeps coming back to that. And is exactly why people do or do not like 4th ( or 3rd, or what not)
I think to a great degree, a game's mechanics are either, about a game, or about attempting to be an interface with an imaginary "reality".
very few people are saying 4th doesn't "work" as a tactical wargame ( i prefer 3rd, but still think 4th is fine for that ) - it's the "flavor" the mechanics create that is most folks sticking point IMO. ( you've read the article i linked /" check for traps"? )

Badger Kyre:
ps, Dark Sun may be a bad example - it is low-loot but HIGH fantasy.

Enh? I'm confused about this last bit -- what is it in reply to?
-- Alex

OOF! wrong thread. this and the full interview thread are "sister" threads ( i think the full interview was posted by Macris partially because of this and other thread responses )...
thanks, sorry, i'll fix that.

Badger Kyre:
I think to a great degree, a game's mechanics are either, about a game, or about attempting to be an interface with an imaginary "reality".
very few people are saying 4th doesn't "work" as a tactical wargame ( i prefer 3rd, but still think 4th is fine for that ) - it's the "flavor" the mechanics create that is most folks sticking point IMO. ( you've read the article i linked /" check for traps"? )

I don't see 4th Edition as especially more problematic than 3rd Edition on this front -- just differently so.

-- Alex

I am glad to hear what Mearls wants to do with 4E. I wish him and WOTC luck, but the Essentials boxed set has not succeeded in getting me to give 4E another try, but I will be keeping my ears open about further changes to come.

I registered on here just to be able to comment in regards to this article.

First thing's first. I really, really dislike most things about DnD before 4e. I've gamed for 15 years, everything from Call of Cthulhu to White Wolf to Pendragon to L5R, and for the vast majority of the dozens of people I've played with, DnD was a punchline, a joke.

"Hey, look! It's the game with zero girls playing, broken mechanics, powergaming, excel sheet requirements, and "kewl" dark elves with dual weapons." God. The fact that the mechanics really DID suck didn't make things better. Making a character took hours, and every new sourcebook introduced dozens of new broken rules. The fact that the systems didn't encourage story or role-playing more than "kick in the door, search for traps, kill the monster, loot it" made the game a nerdier, more math-intensive version of that HeroQuest game for 11 year olds.

And the mechanics themselves? Good Lord. I remember playing the old PC games, like Baldur's Gate 1-2. Walk down a corridor and forget to check for traps = instadeath. The game made save-reload the only viable strategy aside from anal attention to micro-managing every step, and that in itself means worthless mechanics. The creators even parodied that themselves in a comedy scene in Throne of Bhaal where newbie adventurers attack you, then save/reload. Heck, the real reason the games were amazing were thanks to the story and characters but DESPITE the mechanics. Same thing with Planescape Torment. It was amazing just because it downplayed all that was DnD and replaced it with story.

My own worst memory of this was in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. DnD 3.5. I hade a level 20+ something paladin, and I got destroyed in that epic campaign. Utterly destroyed. So I logged onto Gamefaqs, found a FAQ on how to build a "good" character, a monk/kensai/something multiclass. This ridiculous character with zero backstory, logic, or thought beyond dice mechanics murdered everything in its path. 6-7 attacks per round always hitting dealing massive damage. The game became a joke.

And that is pretty much what 3.5 is/was/remains: a broken, complicated, story-deprived mess that rewards power-gaming, loop holes, and Asperger-like focus on mathematical details. Like WoW, the person who wins isn't the smartest: it's the person with the most time to waste. Except instead of grinding kobolds and raids, you're grinding 3rd party supplements from broken combos. I hated it. We ALL hated it.

Then came 4th Edition. Great balance. Cool races. Cooler classes. Everyone had actions to perform, and they were cool. No instadeath from one wrong step, no death for a wizard by a random sling-rock. (Gee, heroic!) Teamwork, tactics, strategy, without a level of randomness bordering on retarded that plagued 3.5. A stop to third party madness. And a DM Guide that actually said "If your character wants to be good at sailing/blacksmithing/whatever in his backstory, go for it. No extra skill needed." It took DnD 40 years to get that?!

And yeah, I know that there are hundreds of thousands who just love their old DnD editions to pieces. And with Essentials, you've managed through b*tching and whining to get your way. It is being returned to stupid hack and slash with a bare modicum of "Choose Your Own Adventure" storytelling (as if Lone Wolf is crap to strive for!), no doubt soon with insta-death and broken rules, fifty multi-class options and more kensai/monk/mage combos that obliterate the universe. So I'm opting out. So are my friends, and the *gasp* girls who play with us.

We'll stick with plain old 4e. Thank God they've at least released enough supplements and campaigns like Eberron and Dark Sun to keep us busy for the next decade.

SunHymn,

I'm totally with you on, well, practically everything. However...

SunHymn:
And yeah, I know that there are hundreds of thousands who just love their old DnD editions to pieces. And with Essentials, you've managed through b*tching and whining to get your way. It is being returned to stupid hack and slash with a bare modicum of "Choose Your Own Adventure" storytelling (as if Lone Wolf is crap to strive for!), no doubt soon with insta-death and broken rules, fifty multi-class options and more kensai/monk/mage combos that obliterate the universe. So I'm opting out.

I don't think replacing at-will attacks for fighters with stances (which seem rather lamer to me, too, but the big secret is they're basically the same thing) and digging up a Larry Elmore picture to put on the cover is really a sea change for 4th Edition. You're certainly not going to see a rapid relapse back to the days of save-or-die or ridiculous multiclassing.

SunHymn:
And a DM Guide that actually said "If your character wants to be good at sailing/blacksmithing/whatever in his backstory, go for it. No extra skill needed." It took DnD 40 years to get that?!

To answer the rhetorical question: no, it didn't. D&D didn't start out with rules for skills. "Non-weapon proficiencies" (marvel at the Gygaxian logorrhea!) didn't enter the picture until, like, the late 80s. Before that, it was just taken for granted that the game mechanics on your character sheet didn't represent any of the non-adventuring talents of your character.

Also, really, I can't say that's good practice for every game. It makes sense for D&D's structure, with the classes and the (modern-day) focus on tactical combat; I'm happy that D&D4 went with this approach. But, for example, it would suck in Burning Wheel, where the character sheet *is* your backstory, skills aren't supposed to be equal, and even the least "adventure-y" skills can see some use in helping you achieve campaign and character goals.

-- Alex

HentMas:

Archon:
snip

loved the interview, i agree with most of the points

people complaining i feel are more like "fanboys" that confronted with a new system just have to keep putting it down because "their" system is better

i really havent played D&D but the arguments presented seemed more like "ps3 is better than Xbox because bla bla bla"

now... DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN ORDER THIS ONLINE!!!???!?!? i live in México and can´t find it anywhere!!!!!!

i dont care if its in english, i will translate it my self but I HAVE TO BUY THIS ESSENTIALS!!!! (never seen a D&D game translated after 3rd edition)

Wow. Is it even possible to miss the point by a bigger margin?

Look. I'm old school. I was playing the original edition back when you needed a copy of "chainmail" to tie the game together. The transitions from original, to basic, to advanced, to second edition were all easy. The transition to 3rd was rocky, but third edition made it a point to include conversion guidelines. The transition from 3 to 3.5 was smooth as a babies butt.

These changes have a common thread. They respect my campaign. They respect that my players and I have a long standing history with D&D. There are active campaigns that have been running for thirty years. These games represent generations of milieu history, and hundreds, even thousands of hours of real life invested.

Then fourth edition comes along, and they expect people to wad all that work up and throw it all away? They really expect us to give up our long standing and beloved characters and campaigns and drop hundreds of dollars buying a bunch of books for the privilege of starting over again from scratch.

What is a dedicated player supposed to say to that?

Screw you. I'm switching back to OSRIC.

That doesn't make me a fanboy. It just means I don't want to throw away my entire campaign so Hasbro can make a few more bucks off me.

D&D is dead. Long live OSRIC (Advanced D&D clone) and Pathfinder (3.5 Edition Clone).

UrKnightErrant:

Wow. Is it even possible to miss the point by a bigger margin?

Look. I'm old school. I was playing the original edition back when you needed a copy of "chainmail" to tie the game together. The transitions from original, to basic, to advanced, to second edition were all easy. The transition to 3rd was rocky, but third edition made it a point to include conversion guidelines. The transition from 3 to 3.5 was smooth as a babies butt.

These changes have a common thread. They respect my campaign. They respect that my players and I have a long standing history with D&D. There are active campaigns that have been running for thirty years. These games represent generations of milieu history, and hundreds, even thousands of hours of real life invested.

Then fourth edition comes along, and they expect people to wad all that work up and throw it all away? They really expect us to give up our long standing and beloved characters and campaigns and drop hundreds of dollars buying a bunch of books for the privilege of starting over again from scratch.

What is a dedicated player supposed to say to that?

Screw you. I'm switching back to OSRIC.

That doesn't make me a fanboy. It just means I don't want to throw away my entire campaign so Hasbro can make a few more bucks off me.

D&D is dead. Long live OSRIC (Advanced D&D clone) and Pathfinder (3.5 Edition Clone).

woah, i missed the point?? what did i said!?

anyway, yes i get where you are comming from, but in the end, you can keep playing 3rd edition, they havent "wadded" or "thrown" anything, perhaps i´m thinking more "virtual" games than pen and paper, but what would you call 2 different systems, with each its own good points and bad points, that also do the same thing, but are incompatible in between???

i would call that a platform... a console if you wish

you dont want 4rth edition?? FINE!! dont buy it!, there is plenty of third eddition material out there

get my point???

HentMas:

woah, i missed the point?? what did i said!?

The exact thing that irked me was...
"people complaining i feel are more like "fanboys" that confronted with a new system just have to keep putting it down because "their" system is better"

Nothing could be further from the truth. But I wasn't just talking about you. I should have made that clearer. It's Mike Mearls who is really missing the point. Of course the man's not an idiot. I'm sure he's thought of all this before. I don't think he's missing it so much as ignoring it. I think he was instructed to make a non-compatible game system by the Lord High Mucky Mucks because they think we are a bunch of idiot fanboys who will eagerly throw down a hundred bucks for a new game system just because it has the name "Dungeons & Dragons" on it. Mearls is just towing the party line. I doubt he believes a word he said.

UrKnightErrant:

HentMas:

woah, i missed the point?? what did i said!?

The exact thing that irked me was...
"people complaining i feel are more like "fanboys" that confronted with a new system just have to keep putting it down because "their" system is better"

Nothing could be further from the truth. But I wasn't just talking about you. I should have made that clearer. It's Mike Mearls who is really missing the point. Of course the man's not an idiot. I'm sure he's thought of all this before. I don't think he's missing it so much as ignoring it. I think he was instructed to make a non-compatible game system by the Lord High Mucky Mucks because they think we are a bunch of idiot fanboys who will eagerly throw down a hundred bucks for a new game system just because it has the name "Dungeons & Dragons" on it. Mearls is just towing the party line. I doubt he believes a word he said.

oh ok!, now i get what you mean, hehe, yes, i can see that he could have made the game and call it "my magic throusers" for all the good it made, but well, people often seem to latch on famous names to win... money!

like "Smalville" they could have called it "little town" or wathever for all the good it made to the "franchize"

but well, i have bought the box, and i liked it, but i have no comparision, never had a box like the one of D&D, and it feels really easy to play, it makes its purpose of getting new players in the "KA-ching" machine... but i dread the end of my "campaign", the guys are getting restless and want more monsters and such, so i know i´m gonna have to buy about 3 more books... ugh...

UrKnightErrant:
These changes have a common thread. They respect my campaign. They respect that my players and I have a long standing history with D&D. There are active campaigns that have been running for thirty years. These games represent generations of milieu history, and hundreds, even thousands of hours of real life invested.

Then fourth edition comes along, and they expect people to wad all that work up and throw it all away? They really expect us to give up our long standing and beloved characters and campaigns and drop hundreds of dollars buying a bunch of books for the privilege of starting over again from scratch.

Such super-long-running campaigns are a rarity, though, even in the "old-school" community. More typically, campaigns seldom last longer than a year and groups change settings from time to time. I don't consider it at all unreasonable to assume that most players with campaigns that entrenched will get on just fine without changing game systems every time a new edition comes out. For everyone else, the most natural time to switch to a different game (if you want to) is when you start up a new campaign, anyway.

As for the thing about buying new books -- how many 3rd Edition books are rehashes of 2nd Edition? (And, moreover, how much stuff in 3.5 books is just a small update to 3.0 stuff?) The supplement treadmill sucks, but it predates 4th Edition by decades.

-- Alex

dukethepcdr:

The key to an enjoyable game of D&D is in picking which rules you and all the players are willing to agree to abide by for the duration of the story (whether these are found in one certain edition or are a set of house rules that are made up and then written down) and then allowing the players to bend and flex (but not totally break) the rules to allow their imaginations room to romp and play. It's about everybody at the table having a good time and getting along with each other. It's not about who's rules are "best" or who's opinion is "right".

I'm afraid that too many people have forgotten what the D&D RPG is. It's a shared storytelling experience, not a competitive game. It's okay to role play a "weak" character who can't slay every monster on the map by himself. That's why the game is usually played by a co-operative group of five or so players. The teamwork comes out the most when each player has his or her specialty that the other players need him or her for. You need the Barbarian or Fighter to deal crushing blows and to protect the other heroes (if the other heroes are almost as buff as he is, what good is he?) You need the Rogue to pick the locks and play tricks on the NPCs (if other heroes are just as tricky, they don't need a rogue). You need a Mage or Wizard to casts spells that help the party survive against otherwise overwhelmingly powerful foes who aren't hurt by blades and arrows much (if every hero can cast magic spells, who needs a wizard?). You need a Cleric to heal wounds, commune with the spirits or with nature, soothe savage beasts or use his knowledge of lore to decipher some puzzle (if everyone is some kind of insert class here/cleric, then you don't need a cleric). If every player character in the adventuring party is a jack-of-all-trades and is self sufficient, why would they bother to travel together? Like in football, there is no one player who can play all positions equally well. Can you imagine a guy who is big enough to hold the defensive tackles away from the quarterback but who can also run 90 yards for a touchdown? Or subbing in the designated kicker to replace an injured nose tackle? Of course not. Each hero in a D&D story (whether it's in a novel, comic book, video game or tabletop RPG) needs to be unique and have his or her niche to fill. Otherwise, you don't have D&D. You have some other kind of game.

Couldn't agree more, when me and my friends played D&D together, we decided our rules, wrote them down and off we went adventuring.
It was about having the players live through your story and allowing them to dictate some of it for themselves, helping to flesh out the world in their mind. "I want to go check out the last city the blacksmith worked in" Changed my plans so much but made the game better, I think if a game is all about imagination, let it run free within as few rules as possible

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