Today’s D&D 4e excerpt, “Economy & Reward,” is emblematic of the core ethic behind 4e that makes it hateful to me.
Their new theory on giving out treasure is even more obsessed with everyone getting the same stuff than previous editions. So rather than random treasure, or DM-placed treasure without doing math (God forbid) to make sure every 5th-level PC’s net worth is identical, the DMG has a “fifth level treasure parcel,” containing everything a good little group of adventurers should get while they’re fifth level. It’s broken up into ten chunks, and you just place the chunks in encounters where you think they should go. So they’re guaranteed to get the planned cash. Because any 5th level character not having the exact same amount of treasure is wrong.
Here’s the trick – people could do that under 3e. There’s a recommended target $ by level table. But they don’t do that. Why? Well, because that’s lame. To break down lame into technical terms, it’s gamism over simulationism, it deliberately limits DM choice and campaign variation…
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Go read the excerpt! OK, here it is:
Paragon Tier Treasure Parcels
|Party Level 15||Total Monetary Treasure: 50,000 gp|
- Magic item, level 19
- Magic item, level 18
- Magic item, level 17
- Magic item, level 16
- 14,000 gp, or 140 pp, or one 7,500 gp art object + one 5,000 gp gem + one 1,500 gp art object
- 12,000 gp, or 120 pp, or one 7,500 gp art object + 4,500 gp
- 8,500 gp, or one 7,500 gp art object + 1,000 gp, or one 7,500 gp art object + one 1,000 gp gem
- 8,500 gp, or one 5,000 gp gem + one 2,500 gp art object + 1,000 gp, or eight 1,000 gp gems + 500 gp
- 5,000 gp, or one 5,000 gp gem, or one 2,500 gp art object + one 1,500 gp art object + one potion of vitality
- 2,000 gp, or two potions of vitality, or two 1,000 gp gems
Yep, that’s right. You’re level 15, you should get one of these standard parcels per encounter. No, no, not a different parcel with about the same value – why, some PC might get gypped out of a f*cking gold piece that is “due” them in some cosmic way. Jesus, even World of Warcraft doesn’t get this lame and formulaic. I have to move on because I’m throwing up a little in my mouth the longer I linger over this section.
The XP section is OK though. XP is given per monster defeated, and also quest rewards. Though still, it seems too regular – “[adventurers] gain a level after completing eight to ten encounters…” Oh, OK, eight to ten, cool. Gotta leave a little variation in there! Just saying “nine” would be wrong.
Then we get to the section on civilization and economy. Naturally, nothing about a civilization’s economy matters except “what kind of magic items can adventurers buy there” so that’s what it’s boiled down to.
You know, 3e actually had a halfway decent economic model, once you did the analysis and looked at the costs, standard community levels, craft/profession revenue, etc. Farewell to that.
Anyway, they continue to screw the pooch. Now, PCs can only sell “used” magic items for one fifth of their value. It was bad enough in 3e where it was half – yes, no one can find a buyer for a +2 sword that will pay more than 50%, even though adventurers routinely buy for 100%. Yay economics! Now, even pawn shop owners have nothing on merchants, who won’t go about 20% of the value on an item that by its nature doesn’t degrade in value over time. And, they usually sell for above value. (50% chance of 10-40% markup!)
If you decide that’s retarded, good news, you can instead disenchant items into magic dust that’s the component to use to make new items. “But we’re not ripping off World of Warcraft!” Damn, if someone put out a tabletop RPG as close to D&D as D&D is getting to WoW, WotC would be sending them cease & desist letters.
I know by this point everyone out there thinks I’m just a dyed in the wool 4e hater, but I really would like it if they would show one part of the rules that doesn’t appear to be totally dicked up to even cursory observation. Welcome to the Windows Vista of the roleplaying world!