The Needles: I Want My D&D

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The Needles: I Want My D&D

Andy Chalk contemplates D&D, Neverwinter Nights 2, and exactly where computer RPGs went wrong.

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Hey, I agree... hence I did not plop down money for NWN... I would suggest trying out The Witcher,... you basically are playing the 3.5 book complete scoundrel in that game and it's pretty easy in terms of actual application.

HIGHLY Recommended, the devs are still backing it and putting in overtime, even after the games release, to make it so much more. Support them with your $$$! :D

OH and give D&D 4th Edition a try. Min/Maxing people you probably love to hate are crying "It's not real D&D!" (IE because they cant stack up 5 rule books and break the game,...), but for someone like you who wants simple rules and just more roleplaying fun with friends, it's a HUGE recommendation. Take $23~ and drop it on the PHB over on Amazon and just give it a read. It's amazing, my girl even wants to play it!

If I recall, Andy's spent plenty of quality time with The Witcher already. I seem to remember something about some type of card ...

Well Im new to the Escapist, so don't throw stones *ducks*

And if you are alluding to the... oh so Lude cards in The Witcher, then lol...

I don't see the place where you think D&D RPGs suddenly "got it wrong".

AD&Ds rules were more arcane than anything the 3rd edition games could come up with, the only thing different was that there were options for multiclassing and min-max-based character building in the 3rd Edition games, just as in the pen-and-paper rules.

However, the key word here is OPTION. In that you could choose to take it, or not.

You didn't have to use them. Any of the neverwinter nights games were easy enough with any single-classed character. If you didn't want it to be, it was not a numbers game.

Also consider that both NWN and NWN2 have much heavier multiplayer focus than any of their predecessors, which means providing a whole bunch of rules and options that might not have made a lot of sense in the main campaign. That means, yes, adding in the option of playing a Svirfneblin Arcane Scholar of Candlekeep. Prestige classes, multi-classing, min-maxing, all of that, because players running their own campaigns constructed with the tools would want it.

All this reads like is that you don't like building a character. Fair enough. But wait! There's a "recommended" option for every single level in any class as you go through the campaign! And it worked! Why didn't you pick that option rather than fault the games themselves?

I for one consider Mask of the Betrayer one of the finest D&D RPG stories since Planescape Torment. I can't fault you for "throwing your hands up" because you thought crunching some numbers (even when you didn't really have to) was too hard, but frankly speaking, you didn't give it a chance.

I would cream myself if I found out that Bioware was going to make a 4th edition D&D RPG. Not only is 4th edition a better game in of itself than third, but it's probably better suited to a video game as well.

BloodSquirrel:
I would cream myself if I found out that Bioware was going to make a 4th edition D&D RPG. Not only is 4th edition a better game in of itself than third, but it's probably better suited to a video game as well.

You'd have to ask Atari, since they own the D&D license as far as I know. Obsidian did an admirable job with NWN2, IMO, and their next expansion seems to presage some of the changes imminent in the 4th edition of the Forgotten Realms setting (due august in P&P).

4ed is a video game transistioned to paper. Which sadly, I don't like. I'm sticking with 3.5. Until they fx 4.0 in 4.5

Aries_Split:
4ed is a video game transistioned to paper. Which sadly, I don't like. I'm sticking with 3.5. Until they fx 4.0 in 4.5

Well said.

I can't say that I entirely agree with the article, as I've never really minded crunching numbers to produce a viable class. I just make sure that it isn't munchkin to an extreme, and I'm happy with it.

But nearly every RPG from NWN on has been tripe, in my opinion, with zero imagination. Not because of a focus on the rules, but because the real special parts of D&D - storytelling, characters, all things present in the Infinity Engine games - have been left swaying in the wind. Chalk it up to trends, a risky market, consumerism, whatever - but for the past years, the RPG market has been desperately, and depressingly, dry.

Aries_Split:
4ed is a video game transistioned to paper. Which sadly, I don't like. I'm sticking with 3.5. Until they fx 4.0 in 4.5

I happily do like! Played many a 3.5 with skilled and unskilled players and the book garbage and rules checks got quite old. Would rather 4.0, less focus on mechanics, more focus on story and roleplay, by far.

Plus, if you even have one person who min-maxes in 3.5, it ruins it for the rest of the party because they become the pack mules for said awesome character (usually Cleric, Wizard, someone using the book of broken swords, or w/e the case may be). I have been guilty of this, as well.

4.0 might be a video game on paper, but I'm cool with that if it means more people will be willing to play. It's about the friends, the time, and the story. Not perfecting characters with "uber options" in about 35 splat books with different rules sets for each, almost.

Divine Metamagic = Game over ;)

Aries_Split:
4ed is a video game transistioned to paper. Which sadly, I don't like. I'm sticking with 3.5. Until they fx 4.0 in 4.5

Agreed, though they probably fix all the major problems.

In any case, 4e may well be easier to translate into gameplay since it has a more definitive, distinctive assignment of powers and abilities, and is less dependent on gear as opposed to power selection. There isn't even any multiclassing aside from cross-class power exchange, so instead of having a munchkin-esque Fighter 2/Wizard 8/Eldritch Knight 10, you can have a fighter who bought a bunch of wizard powers and vice-versa.

Then again, a dev mentioned to me that with so many powers like "Hunter's Mark" which confer benefits and penalties simply based on target assignment at will, turn-by-turn, it can get kind of complicated, especially if in a real-time design.

But that's for devs to consider, not me.

Um, d&d v3.5 is actually advanced d&d v3.5 (if Wikipedia is to be believed)

Im going to try my hand at DMing with 4th Edition just because it is "easier" or "more casual". I find that everything it going for lowest common denominator these days. It will either bottom out or a new niche markets will rise up... kind of a like a cycle that has maybe happened once or twice before... hmmm.

;)

The author of the article is confused. There were no prestige classes (like arcane archer) in Neverwinter Nights.

If he was playing a sequel or expansion pack, I assume it would bear mentioning.

I like 4E... they took the rules out of the roleplay, and now the rules really only exist to frame the combat and other such actions that need rules to avoid arguments. It's far more freeform and open to RP, and powergaming (which, while fine... nay, the PURPOSE in a video game, is an RP killer like no other) is just not as efficient as creating a character and getting into the action and having fun.

I like 4e when the DM changes the rules right. 4e has the basis to be fun, but it DEFINATELY needs to be tweaked. I just don't want people to think I'm a rabid hater of it.

The author of the article is confused. There were no prestige classes (like arcane archer) in Neverwinter Nights

Neverwinter Nights Diamond Edition includes all the expansion packs and most of the DLC, and installs them all at the same time, retroactively adding many prestige classes to the earlier campaigns.

So.. the author hates making characters? Is that what's going on here? They want to take out the options to make anything other then a fighter, thief, cleric, and mage? I guess he/she should go play Oblivion, then.

If not, then I think I completely missed the point.

YOU ARE MY HERO! ;-)

Thank you mister Chalk for such a great article! Just like you, I really miss the word "Advanced" in Dongeons & Dragons crpgs and I really hate those "brand new games with bad stories, shallow characters and lots, lots, lots of unmeaningful options".

Long live Baldur's gate, Planescape: Torment and... IMAGINATION in D&D CRPGs!!!

Cheers

So...what you are saying is that you like Stereotypes rather than Arechetypes?

Fine, play Tunnels and Trolls or King's Quest or City of Heroes.

But there's a lot of us out there that LIKE the idea of building our own sort of hero that doesn't depend on dreams of Rincewind or Schwarzenegger.

Dungeons and Dragons, like fantasy sports, seems to exist to satisfy two simultaneous, and sometimes conflicting, nerd desires: escapism and statistics.

Some people aren't as much into one or the other, but it's a kind of fun that I think D&D has always gone for, and it's a little weird to jump on it for it now. Especially for the set of rules that has just been replaced.

TheKbob:
Well Im new to the Escapist, so don't throw stones *ducks*

Damn, missed again.

As for the article, I agree whole-heartedly. When a game a gives you many options, even for the most simplest of things, you feel obliged, maybe even forced, to take the most complex option to justify the size and complexity of the game. Going with the simple route feels like you are not getting all that you can and are in some way ripping yourself off.

Fire Daemon:
As for the article, I agree whole-heartedly. When a game a gives you many options, even for the most simplest of things, you feel obliged, maybe even forced, to take the most complex option to justify the size and complexity of the game. Going with the simple route feels like you are not getting all that you can and are in some way ripping yourself off.

I can see your point, but I guess I'm lucky that I've never wanted to play those advanced classes. Give me a simple mage or thief that I can bump up to high levels and I'm happy. Killing can be done by single class characters even if it's not as easy to do. I've never felt obligated or forced to make a multiclassed character or gone the prestige class route.

I never understood the "prestige"classes that came up newer versions...
Rather than having a class called Paladin, why not simply play a cleric/fighter and then name the mixedclass Paladin.

For those of you who don't know what I mean, take a look at TitanQuest. (non DnD)
You chose two classes(Masteries) (or you can stick with one if you want to) one at lvl.2 one at lvl.8. Lets say at 2 you choose "Warfare". If you stick with it you'd be called Warrior. Now if you take a second mastery your "class"name would change to something more or less describing your new mixed class. (Battlemage, Assasin, Conquerer, Slayer)

Even special skills like LayOnHands wouldn't be the problem. Make a check if the "mixed class" consists of the two required (Cleric/Fighter) classes then grant the skills.

So long
Unterhund

*clap clap clap*

Beautiful. I've never liked all the prestige class malarkey, whether for pen and paper or for the computer. What's wrong with being a regular old wizard shooting a fireball? I don't need that Loremaster or Archmage crap to function.

The hell with 3,3.5,4 (or whatever) D&D rules... It's not by changing the rules that you give D&D CRPGs a good story, cool characters and imaginative settings.

What is great is when you create a simple thief, a common mage or (yet another) warrior and MAKE it a UNIQUE player character.

So forget about rules, they don't make great games by themselves.

My problem with 3.5's prestige-multiclass system is that it went too far in enabling players to customize their characters beyond what the genre should support.

In an earlier iteration of D&D (say Basic D&D, or AD&D 2nd edition), the class system could be frustrating because it made it impossible to create a character like Conan (who had thief-like stealth and climbing combined with a fighter's strength and prowess) or Rand Al'Thor (who was a master swordsman as well as mage). Given that these sort of hybrids are common archetypes that we all enjoy reading about it, it's no surprise that players would want the ability to make heroic, well-rounded characters of similar ilk.

But in enabling unlimited multiclassing, with "dips" in to a class to scoop particular powers, and endless variations of prestige classes, characters went from too bland ('a fighter') to too spicy ('a half-ogre fighter/barbarian/ranger/templar/dervish') and missed the sweet spot. The characters that are created don't feel like the fantasy heroes of myth, legend, and fiction. They feel, at best, like the wierd quirky side character that shows up in one chapter and interacts with the real hero.

The root cause of the problem is the irregular distribution of benefits from leveling. Simply put, some levels of some classes are not worth as much as some levels of other classes. As a result the min-maxing player will switch out of classes when they are no longer optimally beneficial and find a new class that provides better benefits for his intended purpose. The net result is that a character who skims through a bunch of different classes is far mor effective than one who levels up consistently as a fighter or thief.

This is, of course, the opposite of the real world, where specialists trump generalists in most fields of endeavor. Gold medalists in track don't switch to swimming in between the summer games. Chess grandmasters don't play Starcraft to tighten up their openings.

With neither narrative feel nor realism to support the hybrid class character generation, the system is inherently going to lend itself to min-maxing.

You sure aren't playing a Svirfneblin Red Dragon Disciple because of a character concept.

Archon:
My problem with 3.5's prestige-multiclass system ...

*snip for space*

...You sure aren't playing a Svirfneblin Red Dragon Disciple because of a character concept.

You sir, hit the nail on the head. People against 4.0 say there are skills and abilities that have no real world explanation... so please explain how someone goes through all these heavy skill changes. My only big dip in being a character cocktail was roughly the following:

Cleric 3 / Church Inq 2 / Radiant Servent 3 / Sacred Exorcist to the end.

The DM allowed the alignment smudges on the Church -> Radiant servant. Add in all the bonus turn checks I got from requirements and the radiant servant class + Divine metamagic... I was a beast. I one shotted a boss with a Bolt of Glory. He happened to be an evil outsider and I empowered it and upped my caster level with some handy accessories and blam... 180~ dmg to a boss at level 11 I believe. Funny part was, it was a character I had made that went evil (role played him well ;D ).

I could easily explain my progression, but I see so many that cannot be. I was also part of the a duo of min maxers (myself and a bud) in a group of 6 and we were def the power houses thanks to my blend and his use of the "Book of Broken (nine) Swords".

All in all, I love 4.0 because the stuff just does make a lot more sense in terms of settings and that is may be "easier" but a fighter just isnt going to become a winged theif/mage over night as could happen in 3.5, either.

Give and take. I will finish out my 3.5 campaign with my Radiant Servant of Broken and then retire the set. 4.0, here I come :D

TheKbob:
You sir, hit the nail on the head. ...

Haha, thanks. I'm actually a prestige class hybrid Lawyer 1 / CEO 5 / RPG Game Theorist 20.

Bad attack bonus, though.

D&D 4e does exist as a video game. It's called World of Warcraft.

baldurs gate was easily the best D&D imho - its AD&D 2nd edition? or mb third i forget but it had that feel that your character was a legend :)

Archon:

TheKbob:
You sir, hit the nail on the head. ...

Haha, thanks. I'm actually a prestige class hybrid Lawyer 1 / CEO 5 / RPG Game Theorist 20.

Bad attack bonus, though.

ME 1 / EE 3 / Nerd 15

I have great wisdom and intelligence, I just roll bad,.... I swear ...

What?

Stop looking at me like that!

Hahaha! I also tend to think of everything in terms of game mechanics.

I once used the mechanics of MMO guild and grouping to explain matrix organizations to my company. "Your department is your guild. Your project is your group; you've come together to accomplish the quest..."

The main reason to swap from 3.5 to 4? The new game feel. Everything feels new and fresh to me which is entertaining.

Not sure how long I will play it considering a lot of the fun aspects I have learned to love in 3.5 are gone but at least the pictures in the books are neat. Seriously, the art in the 4E monster manual blew me away and the biggest thing I look forward is the D&D Insider to come out and if it isn't all just hearsay and is what they are pitching then I'm all for change.

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