Mike Mearls Strangles Realism In D&D Like It’s An Unruly Hooker

I hate to keep saying “I told you so” about Fourth Edition D&D, but there’s a thread on TheRPGSite that talks about the new Rust Monster in the MMII.  I really can’t believe what I’m reading.

As most of you know, in D&D the Rust Monster is a weird-looking mostly harmless critter feared by adventurers because of its diet.  It touches metal with its feathery antennae and cause it to rust into bits, then it eats the rust.

Well, apparently the thought of anyone losing a magic item is no longer tolerable to the Wizards designers.  Check it out:

Attack Mode: Dissolve Metal (standard action; per encounter) • Targets a creature wearing or wielding a rusting magic item of 10th level or lower or any non-magic rusting item; +9 vs. Reflex; the rusting item is destroyed.
Residuum Recovery • A rust monster consumes any item it destroys. The residuum from any magic items the monster has destroyed can be retrieved from its stomach. The residuum is worth the market value of the item (not one-fifth the value).

“Residuum” is the magic dust that you can disenchant 4e magic items into.  Normally, as part of their ridiculous and sad economic rules, it’s only worth 20% of the item’s cost.  However, the Rust Monster now kindly keeps it at full price for you in its gullet.  There’s an explicit rationale for this in the “A Guide to Using Rust Monsters” section in the MM2 which boils down to “don’t make any nine year olds cry”…

Eventually, though, the PCs should have an opportunity to regain their lost equipment by using the residuum found in the monster. Although a PC might lose an item, it is intended that the loss be only temporary, which is why the residuum recovered from a rust monster is equal to the full value of the destroyed item. How the PCs deal with the loss is what makes the rust monster fun. Be wary of PCs who try to abuse a rust monster’s powers to their advantage by using rust monsters to consume items the PCs would otherwise sell for one-fifth value. In such cases, you should reduce the resulting residuum to one-fifth value, effectively making the rust monster a free Disenchant Magic Item ritual.

What, they didn’t bother rule-izing that last part by giving it a “Detect Intent” power that would formally change the residuum value based on its reading of the character’s mind?

Seriously, come the fuck on.  Realism and consequences are not “fun”, according to Mearls and the other 4e writers.  All those people who have enjoyed playing any other edition of D&D must be confused.

Why not just take that small additional step and have characters respawn close to the dungeon with all their gear?  God forbid a dead party member gets left behind or some other factor causes them to lose their stuff.  Or have un-fun trips to get raised or otherwise be out of the action for more than five minutes.  Some of the 4e community is dismissive of “these tired comparisons of 4e to MMORPGs” but – the truth’s the truth.  This is a pure computer game move.

Heck, put spawn points in the dungeon.  I was amused recently when I got Unreal Tournament 3 on the XBox 360 and in the cutscenes they actually refer to the respawn points as real, in-world things.  Most games have the courtesy to pretend they don’t really exist (I know, it actually makes some sense in the UT universe…  But this isn’t XCrawl, it’s D&D.).  Time for D&D to do the same thing!  Dying, gear loss, etc. should all be only moments of delay from getting back in the melee!

I mean, I’m honestly not averse to that in some fringe take-off of the genre like XCrawl.  But in D&D?  In a core world that supposedly might make some sense, like the fantasy worlds from those things called books people used to read?  Really?

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143 responses to “Mike Mearls Strangles Realism In D&D Like It’s An Unruly Hooker

  1. That’s a concrete example of how 4e has moved away from my tastes as a gamer.

    I’m not a hater; I own most of the line and have run a couple of campaigns of 4e. I like many of the ideas. But they’ve pulled a Lucas on me and put too many Ewoks and Gungans in my Far, Far Away.

  2. “Realism” as applied to what a giant metal-eating bug does to one’s magical swords.

    Yes, rust monsters in the game should behave more like rust monsters do in real life.

    MY IMMERSION~

    • I’d explain that in a fantasy setting realism still exists and is called “versimilitude” but I’m sure that either a) you already know or b) using big words won’t help.

      • That’s an excellent response. I’ll have to remember your example here for when people pretending to be stupid like that proves they’re right say stupid crap like “D&D isn’t realistic!” in the future.

  3. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

    Well, back in the good old days of ad&d, when a DM threw a rust monster against players it always felt kinda bitchy thing to do. A bit like casting one or two Mordenkainen’s disjunctions before the final boss fight, yeah, that sure was fun times for everyone.

    I’m kinda happy about the direction that 4e has taken; the whole midichlor^H^H^H^Hresiduum is easy to house-rule out of the game if you don’t like it, but on the other hand, if you don’t like to be a bitchy DM you have an option of not slapping your players on their noses with a rolled-up newspaper every time they come to play the game with you.

    • If you want to do away with the rust monster, the correct response is to do away with the rust monster — not to play this asinine passive-aggressive “you still have rust monsters, but they don’t matter now” game.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know that there was a correct way to play d&d and an incorrect way to play it. Obviously I’ve been playing it incorrectly for 20 years now. Woe is me.

      • It’s correct not because there’s a “correct way” to play D&D — but because it’s never a good idea to be a passive-aggressive wuss.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Your philosophy of life is astoundingly intriguing and I’d wish to subscribe to your newsletter, but my common sense is tingling so I’ll just ignore you from now on.

  4. All this really proves is Mearls is whore and WOTC is his pimp. A good whore knows not to get out of line to a pimp. A good whore will always support her pimp, no matter what the pimp does to the whore.

  5. “Why not just take that small additional step and have characters respawn close to the dungeon with all their gear?”

    I always felt raise dead was too close to this. Reincarnation is keen though, cause you have a chance to come back as a lizard man like that guy in the back of The Rogues Gallery

    Also 4ed, if you don’t like it, don’t play it.

  6. casualobserver

    I love a good rant. I agree. Well done.

  7. realism and #dnd don’t go together, i guess thats why its fantasy role playing. but thats just logical old me i guess

    play how you want to play man, ranting doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

    instead of just complaining, how about offering up some rules variants to it or have you played 4e yet.

    • “how about offering up some rules variants to it or have you played 4e yet.”

      See that number there in 4e? It means version 4. The rules “variants” you seem oblivious too can be found in the three prior versions + OD&D and the BECMI branch

  8. “4ed, if you don’t like it, don’t play it.”

    This SOUNDS awfully simple in theory, but somehow a full year later some people are still rolling around on the floor throwing temper tantrums.

    • That is simple: People were playing a perfectly viable and good game. Suddenly, they find out the game they were playing is no longer supported and considered ‘bad’ by the company that used to make it.

      That is a very good reason to be disgruntled.

      Is it a wonder that 4e fans can blow it off as nothing because well… they have their supported game?

    • What’s your answer to people who like having modules for their games, but may very shortly not be able to get them any longer because of WotC’s attempts to obsolesce the prior edition?

      . . . for just one example of why people are upset.

  9. I rather like this idea, but only with a few tweaks. Ditch the “100% value residuum” thing, obviously. But then, say that any given rust monster has at least a chance of having recently consumed residuum from another source. Set up a random table that gives a small chance of a very large amount of residuum, and you turn rust monsters into an interesting strategic challenge. It’s possible that it could be worth a lot, but it’s also possible that they’d lose all their items with nothing to show for it at the end. On the other hand, a rust monster isn’t a particularly clever sort of monster, so a smart party should be able to figure out a way to reliably dispatch it without too much danger to their equipment. Which is all to the good.

    • But you’re not allowed to give treasure that’s not part of a defined “parcel” in 4e! Heretic!

      • 4E: The Edition Where Houserules Suddenly Don’t Work

      • I’ve got a set of 4e houserules that work well, it’s called “any other version of D&D”

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Luckily original versions of dungeons and dragons and its advanced variety never required any house rules to work well. And oh boy, when the 3e was released, I was so relieved that I didn’t need to house-rule anything any more as the system was so perfect straight out-of-the-box! An lo and behold, 3.5, it was even more perfect, house-rules were absolutely verboten when playing that edition.

        You’re just saying that “you are not supposed to use house rules to make 4e better for you and your gaming group.”

        Oh please, and pish posh.

        After Pathfinder is released and you’ve played a few sessions with those house-rul^H^H^H^H^Hedition rules, come and read what you’ve written in here and see how silly you were being.

      • Sir Digby . . . I think the idea is that you use a previous edition as your basis (possibly with additional house rules added on) because it’s closer to what you want, and fewer house rules are needed. I also think you know this, and you’re just playing dumb because you find it easier to make a fallacious argument than to admit that someone might have valid reasons to prefer an edition other than 4E, but I’m just guessing. Maybe you really aren’t able to figure out these absurdly simple ideas on your own, after all.

    • Ooo, I like this. It turns the rust monster from “just toss it some iron spikes to keep it busy while we go around the other way” to “The question you’ve got to ask yourself is, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?!?”

      I’m still not sure I’m ready to embrace residuum for it, but it’s an idea to toy with. There were a handful of monsters in the older versions kinda like this, critters that might not use coins or magical weapons, but might have a few gems in its gullet. The thing is, you could never know for sure, until you took the risk.

  10. “so a smart party should be able to figure out a way to reliably dispatch it without too much danger to their equipment. ”

    The sad thing in newer versions of D&D too often a smart party == one that bought the “Rustmonster” splat book and took the “rustmonster hunter” prestige class and/or the “rustproof” feat. Then in game, get lucky (or more likely min-maxed to almost ensure success) on a couple skill checks or other dice rolls.

  11. Hey, I never said it was a good idea for 4e. Just a good idea for D&D. ;) I’m a happy convert to Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, and compatriots, and this would be a fun twist there. There’s a larger point in here, though, about the shift in strategic thinking from something that happens at the table based on the world environment to something that happens before the game starts based on rules mastery. It deserves pondering.

  12. “I’ve got a set of 4e houserules that work well, it’s called “any other version of D&D””

    This sounded terribly clever in your own head, didn’t it.

    So, given that you patently have no interest in 4E, why are you so concerned about the trifling minutiae of a game you obviously have no intent of playing?

    Oh, right.

    Attention.

  13. Ergh. This is a good illustration of why I detest 4E. The game’s design philosophy makes it impossible to represent a classic monster like the rust monster in a satisfactory manner, and instead of admitting that it can’t be done, they keep on pretending that it’s still D&D while sacrificing verisimilitude and rules consistency to the almighty game balance, and in this case do it in a frightfully inelegant fashion.

  14. Honestly, I don’t think this is a huge problem. I know and accept that 4E is essentially not even D&D anymore, so I am used to the rules coddling PCs in ways that defy believability. In flipping through the new Monster Manual I was just thankful that the rust monster DID in fact rust and destroy items… I had expected it to just do something temporary like coat weapons in rust which could be cleaned off after the encounter or something! It’s easy enough to houserule that it doesn’t give full value for the residuum, too. I do think 4E has some pretty lame problems regarding verisimilitude, but this one actually doesn’t seem so bad.

    • As verisimilitude goes, I actually think this particular problem is especially egregious — because the quantity of residuum it gives you is based on how much you want to coddle the players, and not on any in-game justification.

      • I think it makes sense actually. The rust monster is there for the metal and cannot digest the residuum within the magic items so when it eats a magic item it digests the metal and leave 100% of the residuum. Leaving only a portion wouldn’t make too much sense because then it would be digesting some of the residuum but for some reason not all of it. And leaving nothing is fine also, but then you’re just implying it can digest both the metal and the residuum.

        I also don’t see how this is coddling your players. This allows a DM to use a cool monster without feeling like they are screwing their players over constantly. You still have to pay quite a bit (and find a person with the knowledge) to even use the residuum.

      • How, exactly, is verismilitude served by “if the players really cherish the item, they get 100% of the residuum, but if they were just going to sell it anyway, they only get 20%”?

  15. “I’ve got a set of 4e houserules that work well, it’s called “any other version of D&D””

    How about focusing on these other versions of D&D instead of worrying about the systems other people play? What exactly are you worried about, that people might have fun with another system?

    How about focusing on your own fun instead of hate mongering?

  16. Nothing in D&D was ever realistic.

  17. *can’t stop self…must post comment*
    I like Geek Related since it’s sort of the cosmic balance to Points of Light: One hates 4E, the other older versions. Hence, the balance in the force is maintained and the universe remains safe.

    The “new” rust monster is pretty typical of 4E – it’s an attempt to “balance” the game and make sure everyone (especially 12 year olds) has a good time. Hence, even though the rust monster ate your +5 flaming sword of awesomeness, you needn’t worry – it’s going to refund the full purchase price when you kill it and take its stuff. For some people (specifically people who like 4E), that’s a good thing. For someone who doesn’t like 4E, it’s like someone crapping in the bathtub.

    The “old” rust monster was cool – shit you ran when you saw one of those suckers. It was great to strike fear in to the hearts of high level characters simply by the appearance of an armadillo with antennae. OTOH, it also could be a pretty big kick in the balls when it ate your +5 Avenger. A lot of how the group reacted depended on the nature of the DM and the group. I’ve been in games where a rust monster was wielded like the hand of god to punish players who had angered the DM/god. So, it too had issues.

    I’m not sure either version is particularly good, although, for the record, I think the enforced balance of 4E makes it play way too much like a game for my tastes.

  18. It could be worse. During the 3.5 development articles, he made the rust monster do temporary damage to metal equipment. At least here it turns into residuum instead of just being “debuffed” (so to speak) for a very short time frame.

  19. “Because I’d like 5e to be better.”

    5e will be worth waiting the remain 2 years for, but prior to that I’m looking forward to the 4.5 rework of players handbooks 1-5.

  20. Is it the job of the rules writers to ensure the game is “fun”? Or is that up to the players around the table? 4e definitely seems to be of the former philosophy.

  21. Whatever the defenders of 4th ed may say, if the idea is that players are “entitled” to never face the consequences of their actions, then there’s more wrong in the culture of gaming than grumpy old men moaning about “old school”.

    Like Kelvin says, who made Mike Mearls an authority on what’s fun for all?

  22. 4e – love the math, hate the philosophy.

    I don’t use residuum. I’m not bound by treasure parcels. I don’t rely on minis. I nerfed healing.

    My campaigns are more about role-playing than roll-playing and our stories take place in a semblance of a “realistic” world rather than one of MMO convenience.

  23. All the “house rule!” responses are nonsense. First of all, my point is that this new rust monster and the theories that underpin it are retarded. Sure, I could change it, but that doesn’t change the point it was dumb in the first place (in fact, it supports it).

    Furthermore, the problem is that the design philosophy in 4e makes it require way more house rules. Sure, I have always house ruled other editions. But I never felt like I needed to houserule the classes and the magic system and the treasure system and the monsters and the combat system… Once you “house rule” away roles and treasure parcels and residuum and minis and all the “balance uber alles” stuff – what exactly are you left with? Is it even 4e any more? Would it have been a shorter route to add in the couple good things from 4e into 3e or another base system?

    You can house rule away from 4e, but if another starting point is closer to your goal, it’s not logical to do that. And the theology underpinning 4e guarantees that it will continue to make choices that need heavy modification if you want to pretend you’re in a living, breathing, “real” (to its inhabitants) game world.

    Furthermore, people who identify themselves as 4e players will tend to hew to the default assumptions of the setting. So it’s much less likely I’ll have any commonalities with someone who identifies as a 4e D&D player.

    Check out this post from Uncle Bear. He went to a con and tried to run 4e without minis and focus on the role-playing, and the players that were there wouldn’t do it and walked out. You don’t do yourself any favors trying to deviate too much from the norms of a specific gaming subculture. 4e’s default assumptions have pulled away from traditional sim/immersion RP to the degree that even if you mod it to accommodate that approach, it’s not like you’ll find players for it.

    • Yes, people, stop house-ruling your games immediately! Stop trying to make it more fun for you! Once you start doing that, there’s no stopping it, who knows what ways you could find to make your retarded game even more fun your your group. We don’t like that, fun is a four-letter word in here.

      You better stick or switch into a system that mr. Mxyzplk likes (and you should remember to house-rule that like he said), that way everybody can be happy and we’ll all reach the roleplaying nirvana together.

    • I think more to the point… why do you care if he is blogging about a game he doesn’t like?

      This is his blog, he can write about what he wants. You have the luxury of not having to read this blog or any other blog with which you disagree.

      Criticism is fine. Debate is fine. But telling someone else you find it irritating they blog about X? Well then don’t read the blog.

      I don’t go to fanboy sites, and start commenting on their 4e is so simple ‘even those with extra chromosomes can play it’ pieces.

  24. Why is it some people take it so damn personally when someone dares impugn their game of choice in a blog post? It’s a game, not your mother!

  25. I play 4th ed and I agree, the stats for the rust monster are absurd.

    I see no problem with complaining about the stupid parts, we all want the game to improve with each edition.

    • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

      Yeah, a real rust-monster isn’t like that at all and new stats are so totally unrealistic. :)

      If a ad&d dm didn’t want to hit his players with a hurt-stick, he didn’t put the rust monster in play, or at least it didn’t let it eat the most valuable magic item that the group had.

      If ad&d dm wanted to have really nasty creatures in his game – sure – rust the rust monster ate what it saw, and of course it saw the shiniest weapon with the most bonus damage first and that was so gone.

      If 4e dm doesn’t want to punish his players too heavily (for doing what exactly?), he lets them have the residue of the weapon back after the group finishes the combat. If 4e dm wants to have a really nasty rust monsters in his game, there’s no residue left. Big deal.

      I really don’t see a big differences with those approaches, it’s just that 4e lets you play with the rust monster whatever kind of rust monster you want it to be whereas, IMO, ad&d limited your options – unless you house-ruled its rust monster heavily.

      No need for prepubescent temper tantrums (“Mike Mearls is so retard olololol!!!” C’mon, please, just use the icon next to this post to show where the nasty rust monster touched you.)

      • Your argument is bizarre. Let’s recap.

        The 4e rust monster is better because you can do it either way – either nerfed, as it’s written in the MM2, or you can house rule that it doesn’t have residuum and this destroys equipment.

        Previous edition rust monsters sucked, because they destroyed equipment as written, and you’d have to house rule to nerf it.

        In either scenario you have to house rule it, but the 4e way is better. Because… Well, no logical reason.

        This is the kind of blindered “4e is better for no reason other than it’s the new edition” thinking I’m trying to combat. Thank you for so coherently demonstrating the fallacy.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Again, IMO – as I previously mentioned and which you happily just ignored as it was getting in a way of your rant – ad&d needs more house-ruling to nerf its rust monster than 4e needs house-rules to make it nastier.

        Your opinion may vary. Read that again, a few times, if you please.

        In 4e, all you need to do is to remove the residuum from the belly, which you may or may not have removed already (I have). In ad&d, what do you do? There is no residuum in the whole game, so do you introduce it to your house-rules? Is the whole sword that the rust monster just ate still in its belly? If so, didn’t you just nerf it completely? I can’t find a quick and easy solution to ‘fix’ ad&d rust monster with any house rules, even though I’m sure there are some. In 4e, it was quite easy.

        But you’re yelling and ranting and you seem to be one of those rare people who fail to listen to voice of reason while they’re yelling with their faces red. And of course, you have all rights to do so, this is your blog after all.

      • Actually, Mike Mearls created a very simple approach to house-ruling the angst of the rust monster away for 3E without having to make any significant changes to the game at all. He just turned the damage to magic weapons and the like into a temporary “debuff”, basically. It’s every bit as asinine as the 100% residuum “solution”, but it satisfies your desire for an easy way to house-rule away the actual danger of the rust monster.

    • See, that’s the kind of viewpoint that’s too rare. (Whugga’s, not chicken salad guy’s) For some reason there’s a huge 4e fanboy brigade that is determined to defend to the death every last line written in the 4e books as perfect.

      In fact, in my 4e PHB readthrough on this site, I see a lot of good things in 4e. The core mechanic changes are solid, for example. I don’t begrudge anyone playing 4e, but I reserve the right to advocate for a D&D that’s what I want out of D&D. “Well you should shut up,” “Well you should house rule it,” and “Well then don’t play it” are frankly illogical responses, defensive when they don’t need to be.

      If you honestly disagree that a particular thing in 4e is stupid, then disagree and explain why. But if you think I’m going to take any advice to just not talk about it, you have another think coming. I’ve been successful enough in adding Internet pressure to help change other deviant WotC decisions like the GSL (thanks, slashdot!) that I think I’ll keep on.

      D&D 5e could go one of two ways. It could build on 4e “the bad way” and have respawn points in dungeons and no RP at all, or it could build on it “the good way” and use the new core mechanic but allow for 3e-style class variation and eliminate the slavish devotion to minis. I want D&D to live again, so I’ll be advocating for the latter.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        It’s illogical to tell you to stop playing a game that you don’t like to play? Huh? Shirley, you can’t be serious.

        “This pea soup is so bad and retarded!”
        “Well, stop eating it if you don’t like it.”
        “But I must! It’s horrible!”
        “No one is forcing you to eat it, you can stop at any time. See, here are some soups that you like, why don’t you eat them instead.”
        “You’re being illogical! You’re so retarded!”

  26. That’s right. Because I do want to play D&D. I just don’t want to play what 4e has done to D&D. Thus I express my opinion on how D&D should change. “Don’t play it then” is an irrelevant response. I hope all these words are small enough to understand.

    To carry forward your example, the soup is inedible because the cook keeps putting too much salt in it. Is “Then don’t eat it!” the right way to address it, or is “Ease up on the salt!” the right way?

    • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

      Your argument would be valid only if there weren’t any people enjoying the 4th edition at the moment (“ease up on the salt!” “…but some people really like it.” “they shouldn’t!”) and if you didn’t have any other edition of d&d that you could play yourself (“ease up on the salt!” “you can order that other soup, it has less salt in it.” “but I want this soup, even though I really hate this!”).

      Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whether you prefer people enjoying our hobby or not) there are people who seem to enjoy 4e a lot. I really can’t see how this is a bad thing. Is it such a horrible idea that there are people who enjoy stuff that you don’t enjoy yourself?

      And fortunately (or unfortunately, for some mysterious reason that really escapes me) there are plenty of other versions of d&d that you can play and enjoy if 4e is something that you don’t like yourself.

      We are in a very lucky situation in that sense that we’ll soon have two different versions of d&d which are both coherently designed, they both have cohesive rule systems and great production value and ongoing support and monthly publications. You can freely choose which one you want to play and you can freely ignore the one that you don’t like. Or you could play them both, liking one of them doesn’t mean that you have to vehemently hate the other one. And if you don’t like either one of them, you can still play 3.5e or ad&d or d&d or any other game you have in your bookshelf. They didn’t become invalid the day that 4e was released, you can still play them. Really. It’s true. Go ahead, try it if you don’t believe me.

      Or you can ignore the games that you like and keep on hating and bashing the one that some people seem to have fun with (“because the have the fun wrong way!”), month after month, blog post after blog post. I guess you’ll find this approach the most logical thing to do. It really boggles my mind, though.

      • Edge those eyeballs over to the “recent posts” box and I think you’ll see I haven’t been ignoring the games I like… Lots of Pathfinder (and other non-D&D) games covered here! In fact, this is the only 4e post I’ve made in quite a while. But, why start letting facts get in the way of your assertions now.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Yes, and I quite enjoy reading your articles about Pathfinder and other games. But it seems that your hat of 4e know no limit and you go batshit loco everytime you read something new about it and you feel compelled to blurt out some inane rant filled with pure rage and vitriol, your only major point seemingly being that if you’re not having fun with 4e, no one else should have fun with it either.

        I’d rather read your good articles, not these crappy ones.

      • Hey, Sir Digby — I think your phrasing seems more vitriolic and indicative of a hateful attitude than mxyzplk’s.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Me: “I quite enjoy reading your articles”
        Apo: “I think your phrasing seems more vitriolic and indicative of a hateful attitude”

        Jaysus, you people. Does your system hatred drive you blind?

      • Yes, because that’s *all* you’ve said in this discussion.

        Do you have anything new to say, or are you just going to repeat yourself twenty times saying “don’t like it, don’t play it, don’t talk about it?” Because I reject that, so spamming the comments saying it again and again isn’t real helpful.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        Well, let me put it this way, a short multiple-answer questionnaire:

        1. Do you prefer that there are a) more people playing rpgs now and in the future b) less people people playing rpgs in the future or c) I don’t really care whether the roleplaying games as a hobby dies or thrives?

        2. How does the situation of roleplaying-games as a thriving business change when there are different types of games that are being released? a) it makes it easier to introduce more people to our hobby and keep them playing different games b) it makes it more difficult to introduce new people to our hobby c) I don’t really care what types of games are being released?

        3) Would you prefer that a) people play many different kinds of role-playing games produced by large production houses and smaller indie businesses b) people play one and the same game and that game only, preferably published by the biggest publisher in the industry c) I don’t really care what games other people play and what kind of games are published?

        4) When people play a game that you like to blog about, do you prefer that a) people play it in any way that they find fun b) all people play by-the-book and rules-as-written c) I don’t really care how people play the game that I play?

        After you’ve answered those questions, could you please explain why you keep repeating your asinine 4e rants if you don’t have anything new to say about it. And don’t give me that “I’d like to play d&d but I can’t because of 4e” diatribe, you know that it’s a Total Bullshit Argument, otherwise you’d be criticizing Paizo for the huge mistake they’re just about to make.

        • How was any of this relavent to anything mxylplx said?

          Paizo is not being criticised because they are not CHANGING D&D to a miniatures board game.

          you have missed every point he has made thus far.

          Rework your questionairre. It is unreliable because of the bias.

      • I have two words for you in response to all that vitriolic mischaracterization of what mxyzplk has said:

        straw man

      • I “prefer” you somehow be cured of your diarrhea of the mouth. The real answers to your questions are simple, you just like to pretend they don’t exist.

        I like D&D, as well as many other games. I would like D&D to be good enough for me to play. Previous editions have been, the current one is not. I will certainly play Pathfinder instead of 4e given the current state of things, but would like to see D&D improve, perhaps in 5e, to be an acceptable play choice again. The design philosophy behind 4e, as WotC is the dominant force in the market, will corrupt a large number of gamers towards the play style it dictates. This isn’t because it’s bringing in lots of new gamers who happen to be gamist – 4e has brought in some new people, but not really any more than any other new edition does from the marketing and novelty around it. It’s because the default playstyle will cause even people who prefer other styles to get dumbed down towards its norm.

        Sure, I can play an old version or a forked version of D&D. But I want to play D&D, and I want the current resources of WotC behind catering to me and my tastes, just like any consumer including yourself wants.

        So yes, I will argue against each new retarded thing WotC does, whether it’s awful new rules or harsh new policies or retarded business practices. I’m so sorry you can’t make peace with that, Random Internet Dude, but in the end, I don’t really care.

      • Sir Digby Chicken Caesar

        [Edit: And here’s Chicken Salad, signing off for good with an obscenity-laced rant. Bye!]

        • It’s funny how you allow yourself to be a smug jerk on the Internet who makes fun of other people’s life work but no one is allowed to criticize your opinions any way.

          That’s certainly one way to admit your defeat. :)

          • Seems to me I’m allowing a lot of differing opinions here. I’d say I have much looser rules than any of the RPG.net/ENWorld kinds of forums. But if you decide to abandon reasoned discussion for being a total asshole, I will boot you with no compunction.

          • I wonder if notageek got the same notification of the vitriol-spewing hatefest that you replaced with an administrative edit. I imagine not, or notageek would have noticed how far beyond the realm of reasonable discussion Sir Digby’s comment really was.

        • Ding-Dong! The Troll Is Dead.

  27. Look, if you want the rust monster to just eat the stuff, and now it’s gone for good, that’s still your prerogative. You don’t need any funny game mechanics for that. Just an eraser. I like that I have a choice, and a game mechanic that won’t piss my players off too badly.

  28. Yeah, I have to go with 4e is just a nerfed gaming system. The rust monster modification is part of that, but then again, so is residium. As a friend said, the whole system reminds me of participation medals, you get a medal just for showing up. Everyone gets to kill monsters, every time, under every circumstance.

  29. I don’t understand the “you can’t say it doesn’t make sense because its not real” argument. We all enter these discussions with the understanding we’re talking about a game. Do you really agree with every aspect of the games you play? You’ve never looked at a rule (be it character, combat or creature) and said’ “That ain’t right”? I have never met anyone that games and doesn’t have a few house rules or has changed some aspect of something in the game. You change it because you think there is a better way.

    Then you house rule it and never mention it. To anyone.

    Right?

    Or you house rule it and share your opinion hoping that those who design the games take notice.

  30. I think my chief problem with the 4e rust monster rule is how clumsily it is. If you have to include an addendum to a rule you just made to account for an obvious way it could be exploited (i.e. why don’t people that wish to get residium from powerful items simply feed them to a captive rust monster, then slaughter the creature for the full 100% residium?), maybe you should sit back and rethink the rule a bit. I don’t care if the designer’s goal is to reduce the nastiness of the rust monster, it is not a creature I ever really felt the need t use in a campaign, but they could have easily done so in a less ham-handed way.

  31. Apparently I clumsily omitted the word “implemented” from the end of my first sentence. :P

  32. On the subject of monsters…

    Mxy, which 3.5 monster books would you recommend getting? I include all Manuals, Folios, Librums and Codices.

    Perhaps just as importantly, which books should I absolutely not get?

    • Hmm, for use as a DM or something else? (Like “I’m playing a summoner and want fun summoner cheese.”)

    • I’m not mxyzplk, but I still have an opinion on the matter.

      MM1 is pretty good. MM2 is just slightly less good. They go downhill from there.

      The Monsternomicon from Privateer Press, on the other hand, is better than both in terms of both production quality and the quality of the content.

      • I have to agree in general MM1 is better than MM2 is better than MM3… MM4 and 5 are not worth getting at all.

        The Green Ronin Advanced Bestiary and Book of Fiends are very good. The WotC Fiendish Codex 1/2 are good. All the rest of the WotC clan that have a couple monsters – planar hb/frostburn/sandstorm/stormwrack/ghostwalk/races – are nothing you can’t live without.

        If 3.x is allowable, I have a soft spot for the Swords & Sorcery (White Wolf) Creature Collection 1 and 2 for the Scarred Lands. WotC Fiend Folio is “eh”.

        • I actually like 1, 2 (for some monsters specific to a setting or two) and 4 (specifically for the quick built intelligent monster raiding parties) that’s really all 4’s good for, but it was enough for me.

  33. “MM1 is better than MM2 is better than MM3… MM4 and 5 are not worth getting at all” is exactly what I was looking for!

    TYVM.

  34. I cannot emphasize this enough:

    Seriously, if you get a chance to get your hands on a Monsternomicon for anywhere near a reasonable price, do it. It may well be my favorite D&D 3.x book, bar none (at least until the release version of Pathfinder RPG, if you consider that D&D 3.x).

  35. And by U, I of course mean me. Blargh.

  36. “Seriously, if you get a chance to get your hands on a Monsternomicon for anywhere near a reasonable price, do it”

    I will second this. The Monsternomicon (from Privateer Press) & Monsternomicon vol 2. contain a lot of very well thoguht out, original, unusual monsters, and the write-ups are great. I hate 3rd editon even more than 4E but those books are a great resource no matter what you’re playing – I even use some of the stuff in my Burning Wheel campaign.

  37. Okay, I might be being a bit thick here, but what’s the point of bringing the rust monster back if its most distinctive feature is taken out? Surely, if you like the rust monster, then you like it because of what it does to the players’ stuff, and if you don’t like what it does to the players’ stuff, why bring it back at all?

    I’m missing something here…

    • I don’t think you’re missing anything — but Mike Mearls might be missing something.

    • “It’s iconic! But what makes it iconic is incompatible with our new game! But we can’t leave it out, people will use it as proof that we’ve decided to piss all over 30 years of D&D history! Let’s put it in, and just remove the thing that made it iconic in the first place! Brilliant!”

  38. As a 4e GM, I’m rather disappointed myself. The absence of the rust monster (which was always an absurd and, if I may borrow the term, “retarded” monster) was one of the many small improvements to the game.

    Putting that asinine piece of cheese back in, nerfed or not, just as a concession to its “classic” nature is a compromise of principle. A small one, it’s true, but nevertheless. It’s a puzzling choice, too, since most of the people who blather on about classic game elements don’t care for 4e to begin with, and tossing in a monster or two, especially a nerfed one, won’t change that.

    Personally, I’ll just keep them out of my games, exactly like I have for… 20 years or so.

  39. Having GMed for almost 15 years (every edition since 1e AD&D and Mentzer Basic through 4e), I’ve always found rust monsters to be a whole lot of fun. There’s a lot more you can do with them than a simple “Gotcha! You lose your +3 plate mail!”

    My personal favorite trick is to make sure the party knows *exactly* what rust monsters do, then stick one someplace the PCs really need to go. It’s fun to watch them squirm figuring out how to avoid confronting it (Hope you brought some iron spikes). A friend of mine also likes to use them as mounts for Small-size wizards. Come hit me with your stabbies now, tin man! No? Lightning Bolt!

    The prospect of finding valuable treasure within the rust monster’s stomach is an awesome one, though – Can we hunt it? Do we dare? – but I find the 100% residuum thing kind of weak. You still get a little bit of nakey club time, yeah, but no permanent losses takes a lot of the punch out of a monster designed to scare the pants off of players. At 20%, though, its not too bad an idea – there’s still the threat of some serious loss.

    I definitely won’t use it in a 4e game, though: I won’t be going back to that after my current campaign wraps up – combat is just too long and boring for me. I miss resolving melee rounds in under 3 minutes.

    Still, rust monsters filled with treasure goes with saving throws as defenses and ritual magic in the small pile of 4e bits I’m stealing for my super-house-ruled 3e/Labyrinth Lord blend.

    • Rob,

      Are you going to be posting these houserules online anywhere? I’d love to see what your take on ritual magic for LL looks like.

      – Brian

  40. So why is a “suggestion” to prevent rules abuse such a bit problem?

    You guys sound like a bunch of whinig girls :p

    We get it, you don’t like 4E, but of all the things to nitpick, you had to pick a suggestion?

    It was impossible for them to get it “right” as you despise the very planet this creature was born unto, so what is there to get “right” I wonder…

    Though it really is the fact that you are attacking a suggestion that kills me. Are you enjoying the flames and trolls by chance? I hope not, but can’t help but wonder.

    Watching people I like and respect with heads back and slappy hands at work is sad. C’mon guys, we’re better than this…aren’t we?

    • I see it’s time for the cluestick:

      Donny, this was clearly (at least, it seemed clear to me) brought up because of the way it seems to illustrate the whole philosophy of game design at Wizards of the Coast right now. The fact that “the whole planet” is “wrong” is, in fact, sorta the point: it’s “wrong” for the same reason that this modified rust monster concept seems to fit in so friggin’ well.

      Consider the fact that this “suggestion” is basically a way to undo the damage done by the official design of the creature in 4E. The official design was predicated upon an attempt to create a particular play style for 4E that pervades the entire design of the game — and produces opportunities for abuse that just fits with the way the entire game seems to make a Mickey Mouse mockery of itself. As a “solution” to this abuse problem, it is suggested that the DM do something that has absolutely zero in-character verisimilitude, providing a pure metagame “solution” that feels like cheating and/or backpedaling. Despite this, even the “suggestion” seems to fit perfectly into the overall feel and design philosophy of the game.

      It’s a specific example of a widespread, chronic, endemic problem with 4E as a whole, as some people see it. Why is that so difficult to understand?

      Why do half the people who like 4E around here seem so dead-set on ignoring the implications of this kind of game design philosophy as embodied in this particular case of one wrong trying to correct another? Why is it that it seems you can’t see the forest for the trees? Are you just so invested in seeing 4E as the Second Coming of Gygax (or whatever gaming deity you worship) that you always ignore implications you don’t like in favor of taking any slight variations in quality as special case exceptions?

      If you want to argue that this isn’t actually representative of the overarching design philosophy of 4E, please do so. Please don’t just ignore the fact that the overarching design philosophy seems to be the really troubling point here, though.

    • I find it a bit inconsistent to both argue the point and say that everyone discussing this is whining girls have a slapfight. Pick one.

      If you pick route 1, then as pointed out, it’s not the suggestion that’s the problem. It’s the rust monster RAW in the first place, as well as the design philosophy behind it and the usage guidance.

      If you pick route 2, then “neener neener blow me” or whatever.

  41. Pingback: The Seven-Sided Die » The D&D 4e rust monster is a bag of stupid

  42. But Donny, that’s the point. The thing that makes the 4e rust monster “stupid” is the same reason why we don’t like 4e: the core principles driving such designs.

    The rust monster is a concrete expression of those principles that can be pointed at to illustrate why those principles are backwards.

    4e doesn’t have some magical ability to piss people off without reason. There are concrete elements in its design that are the cause.

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  44. Blah blah blah “I hate 4E. Blah blah bleh bluh “Poor design choices.” Blah blah blip blurp “4E is stupid.”

    That about sums it up. Repetition. Useless repetition. You go on and on about how terrible 4E is, and yet I’ve PLAYED IT. I also spend nearly a decade playing 3E. you want terrible, 3E was awful! Am I now suddenly an idiot because I LIKE the changes they’ve made? While you haven’t said that, it is heavily inferred by every comment lambasting it’s awfulness and unplayability.

    Is it simply easier to whine ineffectively about what YOU would have done different? Why not try and fix the problem? Can you guys even hear yourselves anymore? It’s pretty obvious to me and anybody else not sharing your ravening hatred that you cannot, in fact hear yourselves – or that you would care if you did.

    Why do I even care? Well, if the game is poorly designed, filled with broken and disassociated mechanics, and caters to the lowest common denominator (in your opinions) what does that make the people who enjoyit for what it is, and are glad to see the changes?

    Does that make you all basement dwelling graybeards with fat bellies and glasses? Are you really allergic to girls? Wanna play stereotypes?

    Get off of your pedestals. You were not consulted for design on this one, an while I know it must have stung, I don’t think I would have played your game anyway – speaking of which, where is the “perfect” game that will make you all go away? All this time spent carping and whining about a rust monster could have been used a lot more productively – one would think.

    @D7 – So we hate a game due to a design choice? HOW CAN THIS NOT BE FIXED? Why do you even care if you won’t play 4E anyway?

    Tempest in a teapot, blow to truly epic proportions thank to the internet.

    • “Why do I even care? Well, if the game is poorly designed, filled with broken and disassociated mechanics, and caters to the lowest common denominator (in your opinions) what does that make the people who enjoy it for what it is, and are glad to see the changes?”

      People who like gamist play, aka tactical combat. I’m not sure that’s a harmful stereotype in the way you seem to be cranking ‘em out. And that’s fine, you are welcome to advocate in favor of that kind of game. We’re advocating for a different kind of game. I know all the people who like the change in 4e would prefer that we shut the fuck up and go away and not express our preferences any more, but so sorry – we’re going to. Like it or lump it.

    • Donny . . .

      Why have you come to the conclusion that people are making personal statements about you when they make less than glowing assessments of a game you happen to play? Some may actually intend some kind of personal judgment, but I believe them to be a rare exception, and nothing said here disabuses me of that belief.

      Why do you, then, make very personal attacks against people who choose to share their reasons for choosing to not play that game you play? Even if you disagree vehemently with others’ assessments of 4E rules, or the importance of those rules in the grand scheme of things (individually, or as examples of larger trends), I don’t see how that means that people who explain those assessments are bad or stupid people.

  45. Stupid double post :-/

    • Indeed, each stupider than the other.

      So you spent nearly ten years playing a game you think is terrible? How does that work? Are you masochistic, or did it just take you that long to figure out you don’t like it?

      Seriously, I don’t think people are idiots because they like 4E. Many 4E fans do turn out to be idiots for entirely different reasons, though. Hint: taking criticism toward 4E personally is just one of them.

      And, well, I actually was a playtester for 4E and did have a say, however small, in the making of the game. One minor fix I suggested even made it in the finished product. This, however, did nothing to redeem the whole, as the entire design philosophy of the game is critically flawed. That is why its issues cannot be repaired with simple house rules – painting the house does little good when the foundation is rotten through.

      Finally, to address the question of spending one’s time productively… you’re the one who crawled back to a comments thread that’d been quiet for nearly a week to rekindle the flames. Do you really want to get into this?

      • To be fair, I think your statement, “… the entire design philosophy of the game is critically flawed.” should be followed by “… for certain ways of roleplaying.”

        I really don’t like the way 4e plays, and as you say, a new paintjob (4e fans should read as “house rules”, to be clear) won’t have any effect on the understructure.

        There are people who can and do play 4e just fine without being lesser roleplayers. Their priorities jibe with the priorities encoded into 4e’s design. Ours don’t.

        @Donny, and other 4e fans: People who dislike 4e are going to complain, because we generally like D&D. Criticism of a game, positive or negative, is not and never has been the private domain of people who already agree with it. Who hasn’t knocked Rolemaster, FATAL, or GURPS? Right, their fans. Does that mean everyone else should STFU? No. Consider that we would probably have a whole lot more games that are 90% combat tables if nobody had ever voiced a negative opinion of Rolemaster.

        We who are tearing down 4e do so because we disagree with the design philosophy. We don’t want to see it crop up in other new games; we don’t want to see it in D&D 5e; we don’t want to see it in Pathfinder v.2; we don’t want to see companies waste their time producing “old school” modules for 4e.

        What else is the point of writing anything on the internet, but to voice an opinion? 4e doesn’t have some magic armour that makes it immune to criticism. In fact, the prominent position that the D&D brand holds in the market makes it all the more important to have a thriving discussion about it, pros and cons, so that the next generation of games can take those pros and cons into account.

        • >To be fair, I think your statement, “… the entire design philosophy of the game is critically flawed.” should be followed by “… for certain ways of roleplaying.”

          That is true. It’s also true of every RPG I know of. It’s a nearly meaningless statement to make. “Hey thing A has same issue as all other thing’s of A’s type. Which you already knew, but grrrrr thing A!” It’s certainly waste of time to counter argue.

          But arguing about why it’s ok/stupid to argue about it no more than meta circle jerk.

          > because we disagree with the design philosophy. We don’t want to see it crop up in other new games; …

          Do you realize how incredibly selfish that statement is? and immature? Same as “everyone everywhere has to do things my way or I’ll pull a temper tantrum.” I’ll give you the benefit and assume you didn’t mean it that way, but it’s certainly how it reads. Not surprised people tell you to take your marbles and go home.

          P.S. Rolemaster and it’s tables are made of pure elemental awesome.

          • Of course “… for some styles of play” is true for every RPG. But, I’ve been a happy player of D&D for 20-odd years, and so I am going to speak my mind about the latest incarnation. No reason I shouldn’t. I don’t care about those other RPGs that I’ve never played in any edition, so I’ve got no motivation to chat about the styles of play that their most recent edition enables and discourages.

            Of course it’s selfish. Should I be advocating for more games designed in ways I don’t enjoy? How about you adopt my position and argue it for me? That’d be nice. Let me know how it goes.

            I think the ongoing debate is a good thing, and necessary for what I want out of the RPG market. See, the thing is that I don’t know which side of this debate is right. I have my opinion, but the only mechanism for determining which opinion is *right* or not is to speak up, add my voice to the pile, and then let the market/history/a magic 8-ball take the entirety of that clamouring Babel into account to find out what the balance is. Do more people prefer 4e the way it is? Are they enough that no concessions to dissenting players need be made in 5e, or are the dissenters enough that WotC will accommodate some other styles of play again? I don’t know. STFUing now would kneecap that natural mechanism. Heck isn’t the voice of the teeming masses supposedly *why* WotC made some of the changes they made? Isn’t it selfish to say, “I’ve got what I want, you can stuff it and shut up”? Not that I think there’s anything wrong with selfish advocacy, obviously, but it’s an inconsistency in your position.

            *insert some circle jerk here, since you’re asking for it by continuing the meta-ness*

            P.S. Speaking of Rolemaster, earlier today I threw a photocopy of Arms Law/Claw Law that I inherited from a retired gamer through the shredder after noting that it was 90% ridiculous tables. Elemental awesome really needs a lot of smelting before it’s more than a lump of ugly.

          • I have to agree, I don’t have a lot of sympathy with people who say “advocating for products you like with the companies that produce them is selfish!”

            No shit Sherlock, and it’s the way the world works on so many levels. Everyone advocates for the products, outcomes, candidates, etc. they want and lo and behold they (often) get them.

  46. d7 comment wasn’t just advocating. It said I want all RPG’s everywhere, ever produced to be exactly the play style I want. Fuck everyone else ME ME ME.

    And boy, what a duo of selfish twits you guys are. This thread hasn’t been worth the time for awhile, I’m done.

    • Good job on reading for content.

      Let me distill this down for you. My job: advocating for what I want. Your job: advocating for what YOU want. (Not much difference, is there.) Result: publisher hears a bunch of different opinions, and figures out what the balance is and/or who they want to serve.

      See how that works? Why should the opinions that compete with yours go away? Just because you ask and call those people names? It kinda sounds like you are saying “fuck everyone ME ME ME.”

    • No, that’s not what he’s saying at all, from what I’ve been able to determine. He’s saying that he wants this particular game, which through several earlier editions suited his gaming style — but has recently changed so that it doesn’t — to go back to suiting his gaming style. He explicitly mentioned that he doesn’t really have anything to say about the gaming styles of games he doesn’t play, so clearly he doesn’t care whether all RPGs everywhere, ever produced suit his style.

      You are inventing straw men to attack, rather than addressing what d7 actually said. This is not the path to a reasonable argument.

      • There’s only a little bit of strawman in there, since, to be fair, I do want to prevent the spread of 4e’s design philosophy to other publishers and systems. I don’t feel that’s unreasonable either, because I don’t think there’s any danger of all publishers everywhere suddenly deciding that my opinion is the only one they should listen to.

        To clarify, the bit about not caring about other systems was specifically about not caring enough to gripe about them. 4e is different because it’s D&D, which I generally like, and because it has huge marketshare and hence a lot of influence on RPG design in general. That influence can’t go without comment, while whatever GURPS 23rd Edition is doing will have little to no impact on the industry as a whole and so doesn’t matter much to me.

        To sum: D&D 4e is in the spotlight whether 4e players like it or not, so continued critical attention is inevitable. Suck it up.

  47. There is not thought. There is only Zuul.

    No, wait, I haven’t got that right…

  48. Pingback: Monster Rancher (MM2 Review Part 3) « The Spirits of Eden

  49. Pingback: Why can’t you fucking idiots have a proper conversation? « Six-Die Samurai

  50. Pingback: Mike Mearls Admits D&D 4e Blows | Geek Related

  51. I wish we had the internet in the ’70s, so we could read all the complaints about how adding the Rust Monster destroyed verisimilitude by creating a creature that ecologically could not exist and was only created to separate players from overpowered magical items.

    The problem with this is that it tries to “fix” something that was kind of fubar from the beginning.

  52. 4th Edition is the best D&D Board Game out there, I don’t know why people pan it so much? It’s not like they use cards yet….. wait a minute..

  53. Bye bye 4th ed…shortest lived ed ever…POS won’t be missed..

  54. Pingback: Mike Mearls Decides He Values Hookers’ Lives After All | Geek Related

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