D&D 4e’s Out… And It’s Awful. Here’s Why

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition has hit stores, but as my readthrough review shows, you probably shouldn’t bother with it (see the “4e PHB Readthrough” posts on this blog for the nitty gritty). It’s a World of Warcraft-inspired tactical combat game, very unlike (and incompatible with) previous editions of D&D.

Many people love to attack the bearer of bad news, so let me be clear about my background. I’m not one of those D&D-haters, or someone who has only played Third Edition and therefore can’t believe anything might be an improvement. I’ve gamed since the early 1980s, starting with Star Frontiers and quickly moving to the D&D Basic set, and happily migrating to AD&D first edition, AD&D second edition, and D&D third edition. Each time, the new version of D&D, with its improved elegance and increased options, easily sold me on being an improvement on the previous version, and I was happy to upgrade! My bookcases still bear the weight of more Second Edition gear than anything else, just because they published the most product ever in that generation – but except for repurposing adventures those books lay fallow after the upgrade. I view players of “1e derivative” products like Castles & Crusades and OSRIC with pity; I enjoyed my First Edition days but I don’t find that I want to go back there.

I’m also not a D&D-only guy – I’ve played everything from Deadlands to Feng Shui to Call of Cthulhu – I have several Cthulhu Master’s tourneys under my belt and have playtest credits in things as farflung as “Wraith: The Great War.” Check out my RPG reviews – they’re pretty widespread. I also can’t be accused of being just a “collector”, I play all the time. So I think I know RPGs in general, and D&D in particular. I don’t have a (previous) bone to pick with WotC. I helped launch 3e as one of the original Living Greyhawk Triads at Gen Con 2000. OK, so enough about my credentials.

4e is the first time I thought of D&D, “Whoa – this isn’t going in the right direction.”

Not only is it the largest change ever in D&D, possibly excepting only the shift from the original D&D wargame rules to AD&D First Edition, but it’s a negative change – not only relative to D&D but also to the rest of the RPG field. If some other company put out this exact game under a different name, it would already be sinking into obscurity. Like Windows Vista, it’s a failure – a failure that will regrettably sell enough copies, due to its maker’s market share, that they will likewise deceive themselves into thinking it’s a success.

My chapter by chapter 4e readthroughs are revealing a lot of specific bits to dislike, but what’s the mile-high view of the problem? It boils down to a couple major categories.

Back Incompatibility

The oddest thing about this new ruleset is that they didn’t just change the mechanics. You expect mechanics to change in each edition, and being incompatible there is no offense. But D&D has always been a game with a rich history of continuity. People run games in their favorite published, or their own personal, campaign setting for decades.

In 4e, they have decided to “rewrite history.” Previous core races, classes, and spells that have been enshrined in novels, campaigns, and tradition have been discarded or reworked until they aren’t the same thing any more. Greyhawk, the campaign setting that has thrived from OD&D until the last issue of Dungeon Magazine, is now impossible with the new D&D as written. Entire major character archetypes have been removed. The cosmology, which previous classic stories like the Temple of Elemental Evil revolved around, has changed. Wizards don’t use the Vancian spellcasting model, which has always been an integral part of D&D.  The same campaign or campaign world cannot transition from 3e to 4e without a complete rewrite, something that’s never been required for a D&D version upgrade before. “Uh, all the gnomes have been killed and replaced with dragon guys, and the elves all teleport now…”

What makes this new game D&D, besides the branding? If another company released this under a different name, it would get reviews on RPG.net about being a “fantasy heartbreaker” with “better than average production values” and that would be it. It shares very little beyond a very cursory similarity to previous versions of the game. It wasn’t the rules that made D&D D&D, it was the fantastical concept, the enchanters and necromancers and iconic races and the whole distinct fiction surrounding it. And that’s been changed significantly to where, for me, it’s “some other fantasy story” and not D&D.

Retreat from Openness

With Third Edition, D&D took a brave step into empowering their community and sharing the core of the game by picking up the open source concept of open licensing. Wizards of the Coast released the core D&D rules under the Open Gaming License. Product flowed, third party companies sprung up to form an ecosystem around the game. The company that had nearly gone out of business towards the end of Second Edition was doing great again. The best stories since the classic 1e modules came from companies like Paizo Publishing and Green Ronin.

Now, Wizards has decided to say a big “screw you” to that. Not only are they not using any more open licensing, but they are requiring companies who are 4e licensees to agree not to publish materials under the old open license. After a big stink, this restriction was “clarified” to only apply to products in the same product line, but that’s a difference only in the magnitude and not the nature of the hostility towards openness here.

They are just giving off closed vibes about everything. From their behavior toward their playtesters to their jerking around the entire D&D publisher community with their delays and equivocation regarding licensing.  Their new license, the GSL, still isn’t out, and was supposed to cover fan sites but now that’s “coming later.”  Their every move is dripping with lawyeriness and disregard for their customers and partners. It’s hard to keep an open mind towards the game itself when its maker is being a grade A asshole.

Awful, Derivative Rules

So maybe I could say back incompatibility is OK – after all, the Wizards adventure products in 3e were all derivative “returns to” the original great D&D adventure locales, from the Temple of Elemental Evil to the Ruins of Greyhawk.  A fresh start would be nice, perhaps. You can make an artistic argument for a break with the past, even iconic story elements; the comics do that from time to time. And I like openness, but I could see that there might be business drivers I’m not aware of that make it not a good idea. If 4e was a brilliant game, those two complaints lose their luster.

But even when you take it to the gaming table – 4e is not brilliant. They took some steps towards improving the game – the core mechanics are cleaner – but then they just layered gratuitous awfulness on top.

“Oh, all that tracking of effects like Bless in earlier editions is such a bummer!” they said.  Sure, we’ve all had combats that get slow because people are trying to remember all the pluses and minuses from Bless, Haste, etc. And what did they do?  Put an “aura” on nearly every monster, and make every power for every class give fiddly little minor bonuses for one round in duration.  So now instead of remembering “+1 to hit from Bless, and another +1 to hit and damage from the Prayer, for the entire combat” you get to remember “oh, this round Fred hit someone with some power and I have +1 to hit this turn only. And we’re in a monster’s -1 to damage aura. And Jane’s heal spell also is giving me a free healing surge if I do that instead of attacking on this turn only. And the warlord’s aura is giving me +1 to hit, until he moves away from me.”   Their goal was good, their implementation worse than 3e – one-round effects and aura effects plus more mobile combat equals pain. Combat is slow and fiddly and painful, and most of the game has been made about combat.

And call me crazy, but when I play a RPG I like to be able to pretend my character’s a real person in a real world, albeit with differences from reality, like magic – but still internally consistent. They are kicking that in the balls with each chapter of 4e rules. From the preposterous economics to movement only being in “squares,” to marking – it’s nearly impossible to “pretend you’re there,” and not just be playing a board game.  They’re deliberately moving away from immersion as a chief goal of an RPG. It’s a board game now, not an imaginary world.

And the ripoffs from World of Warcraft are just sad. I know WoW is awesomely successful and they’d shoot their CEO to get 1/10 of its business.  But the character “builds,” and talent trees, and disenchanting magic items into magic dust, are blatant ripoffs. I’ve always hated derivative crap in D&D – when someone makes an adventure with monsters obviously taken from the movie Aliens, I don’t think “yay,” I think “boo.” It’s not that I don’t like WoW, either; I’ve got a level 69 priest who’s about to go raiding, but it’s not the same experience as D&D or any real RPG.  Orcs and spells aren’t what makes a RPG a RPG – you can have a novel, a computer game, a picture, or a RPG sharing the same fantasy dress. It’s the ability to live in another world and look through another person’s eyes for a short time that defines a role-playing game. And 4e has decided that’s no longer in scope.


Was Third Edition perfect? No, and it’s gotten heavy under its weight. I support initiatives like Pathfinder that look to fix what’s wrong with 3e. But 3e is the highest point in the D&D game’s evolution – it’s to be built on, not thrown away. 4e throws it away, along with much of what makes D&D unique and what makes RPGs an interesting and distinct hobby. Epic fail.


239 responses to “D&D 4e’s Out… And It’s Awful. Here’s Why

  1. Interesting take. I agree with you on most of your points but, I do disagree about it’s success. I think it will be successful, but I do think it’s a completely different market than you or I that they are targeting.

    I do whole-heartedly agree with your last statement about 3.5. The beauty of the system is it’s consistency and tweakablity.

    I’m going to check out the rest of your reviews, thanks for taking the time for your thoughts.

    BTW: I love Castles & Crusades, I guess there’s no taking critism for nostalgia 😀

  2. Well, I think that they think that they’re addressing a different market – “these kids nowadays.” But are they right?

    Firstly, their equation of WoW to young males is incorrect based on WoW demographic surveys. Secondly, I don’t think they understand what it is that makes people play, or not play, RPGs.

    The “kids nowadays” aren’t much on the novel reading or even the comic reading – that’s for us old folks; they read mangas. They don’t play RPGs, they play MMORPGs. Is taking a RPG and making it about 10 percent different really going to bridge that gap? Or adding some pretty crap computer software to it? I don’t think they have what it takes or even know what it takes to hit those other markets, and they will be unsuccessful at it while alienating some of their base.

    I don’t see anything in the new D&D that says “broader appeal” or “convert WoWers.” In fact, by becoming too derivative of WoW they invite a comparison that’s unfavorable to themselves. WoW is much preferable to a slow, paper-based WoW simulator.

    It’s like Steve Jackson Games’ “Frag,” a board game emulating a first person shooter like Quake. In their case they understand it’s simply a novelty and not a serious attempt at “luring FPSers”. The more D&D becomes WoW, the more of its comparative benefits it gives up (flexibility) and people then compare “Hmmm. Roll dice for 10 hours or click the buttons for 1 hour?”

  3. Pity? Really? Why?

    As for the review, spot on, from my brief perusal of the game. Complicated, too heavily grounded in the battle mat, bizarre choices (gutting most of the “utility” spells from the wizard’s repertoire, and replacing them with a sprinkling of “rituals” that can’t be used in the heat of an exciting moment), and utterly hostile to verisimilitude. The books are surprisingly poorly laid out and the illustrations are range all over the place. Paizo puts out better looking and more professional free PDFs than these core books.

    I’m not sure who the audience is, honestly. The design appears geared to appeal to folks who played CCGs like Pokemon and Magic. The log-with-breasts dryad and the oversized weapons and armour look very Warhammer. There are lifts from WoW. It really looks all over the place, just like the art.

    In fact, I think that’s the central feel I get from this edition: all over the place. It’s like they couldn’t decide on a theme or feel or goals, and just kinda threw in anything that looked cool, while at the same time rigorously cutting down the mechanical options to preserve combat balance.

    – Brian

  4. Far, far too combat-based (even for a game with its origins in wargames), and the art is shockingly awful for a professional product.

    I’m also a bit concerned that bringing Warforged and other bits in, they’re undermining one of the key selling points of Eberron.

  5. As I read through the PH I could feel my blood pressure starting to rise 😮 This is no longer DnD – it’ something very different and I think it’s slap in the face to people who *liked* the way that the DnD core mechanic worked. I cetrainly won’t be switching to 3.5. My party has a monk and a druid…I see we’d have to wait until a “later volume” to use those classes. Huh? Aren’t these established classes that have been in D&D forever? As far as I can see, all the spell casting classes (bar the warlock) have been completely ruined. The selection of wizard “powers” is pitiful for a class that had 300+ spells. The per enounter limitation on some of these powers is also bizarre and arbitrary (clealry a “balancing” attempt, but that does not make it sensible in the context of the game). I always played a spell caster strategically and was never bored – I think that’s a problem with player and/or DM. Supposedly this was one of the reasons for “templatizing” the classes…because some people felt left out and weren’t constantly “having fun”. Well, imho, they should find another game to play if they have a short attention span or want constant action. An evolution of 3.5 which incorporated some of the balancing ideas of 4 would have been fine. This is an abortion.

  6. A buddy of mine read the book. His response to it was, ” I rather go to the dentist than play 4e.”

  7. WoW. (intended) D&D 4.0 (make NO mistake it is the beginning of 4.1, 4.2, 4.3…) is like what a really, really old person must think “the kids” “are sure” to enjoy. Here’s what I imagine might have taken place:

    Wizards: “The kids, they like the MMORPG’s right?, Let’s give ’em one, but not with computer’s, with books! That’ll be kewl. That’s how kid’s say cool now right? Why do they play the “Wow”… why don’t they love 4.0…. hey… oh. I peed myself a little. It’s hard bein’ old and stupid.”

    Somebody else: “Don’t forget, in 4.0 there MUST BE crap artwork and the WORST art design ever!

    Wizards: “Great! We’ll do it!”

    4.0 is born. Soon 4.1 will replace the error of 4.0’s ways!

    All Hail 4.2.1!

    • Ha. Ha. Ha. The future speaks. Your prophecy is wrong. Kinda. They simplified 4e with essentials. Which should have came first. So would it be 4.0-.1?

      In either case or nothing at all, 4e is a great system that fixed much of what was wrong with 3e. Not only that it introduced new ideas that 5e harvested.

      I’m done with 5e. WotC has ruined a great system and D&D lore (just as 4e changed the Forgotten Realms).

      I just purchased every book of 4e (except Metalic Dragons… It’s outrageously expensive.)

  8. I concur. I hate it. I was always going to get the core books – cos I am a collector at heart and now in my mid 30’s I can afford to get RPGs without having to work shtty Saturday morning jobs or wrangle sheep (one full Saturday so I could buy AD&D’s Battlesystem).

    But the changes they have made look unwieldy and overly complex. Weeee everyone now has “spells” – cos that’s going to speed things up. Minions die at any damage? My gawd that’s the greatest Turkey in RPG history. Skills got condensed – which is a good thing in some spots – but things like Craft/Profession gone completely. NPCs are basically hand waved “normal men” as per basic D&D. Vancian magic – which has been the golden thread running throughout D&D’s all other editions has been cut. Thanks X box generation for that.

    The squares thing especially irked me – and thanks for pointing that out. Because we can’t possibly say ‘feet’. That’s too complex to say feet. I get the feeling it was some marketing nob who made the decision because people conducting combats in their hears without benefit of a battle map don’t move battle maps and so forth.

    Some things I liked. But by and large you know what it reminded me of? Baldur’s Gate … on playstation. Running around clicking your left front button selected “spell” power to do kewl stuff.

    It’s not D&D. It’s something else. Like you said if this was released on its own without the brand it would have had a minor review then sunk without a trace.

    I loved converting old modules and old NPC collections over to the new editions because every new edition was a step forward. This is one massive step back.

    3.5 had its problems – power creep through prestige classes being a core grumble of mine. But 4th ed basically replaced it with their special school inbred cousin Billy-bob.

    They got my $150 for the core books. That’s all they’re getting.

  9. In Response to Patrick:

    “An evolution of 3.5 which incorporated some of the balancing ideas of 4 would have been fine.”

    That’s what we are doing. That is what Pathfinder is doing. I think that is what everyone should be doing. After scanning through the 4e books I’ve formulated a basis for that idea. Taking the idea from Pathfinder that cantrips and orisons can be cast ‘at-will’ (pretty much), all the at will powers can be become a cantrip or orison; or we can give other classes a new name – i.e. ‘maneuver’

    The rest of the new class material can be translated as regular Feats or feats from Class Progression. I admit some of the material is nice … but giving the Rogue an exploit that basically pushes someone is outrageous. (i.e. Positioning Strike) I mean, what happened to the Player saying, “I want to ‘try’ and push the opponent.”? (AoO, Opposed Strength Check; that’s what I would do.)

    You can check my website and join this crew, or you can start your own crew. Either way you dice it, you should do the same. Hopefully we can all work together to create an Open Source or OGL version of 3.5+ (3.55, 3.65, 3.75, 3.78, etc…).

  10. I’ve always hated derivative crap in D&D – when someone makes an adventure with monsters obviously taken from the movie Aliens, I don’t think “yay,” I think “boo.”

    Which adventure was that? Did you run it for us, or was that one that Scott ran?

    Anyway, “Wulf’s Animals” will be sticking with 3e for the foreseeable future, until we run out of material to run.

    I haven’t had the chance to read all the way through the 4e PHB yet. It’s hard for me to tell how a game will play until I’ve played it, so I’m reserving judgment for the time being.

  11. “it’s nearly impossible to ‘pretend you’re there,’ and not just be playing a board game.”

    Agreed. After DMing one session of the Keep on the Shadowfell module, I felt like I had just played Robo Rally: what with all the pushing and scooting and bells and whistles going off from the various powers.

    I suppose this is an inaccurate analogy to base a negative criticism on: I actually like Robo Rally.

  12. @Brock – yeah, actually I think one of the other guys ran it. Derek maybe? For the rest of you who have no idea what we’re talking about, there was one of the early third party 3e scenarios which was an Aliens ripoff; I remember it unfondly. One of the guys in our Memphis gaming group ran it.

    I wonder if there’s a German word for “lame because it emulates something too much.” It could be used on many of the SciFi Channel movies.

  13. Matthias Feser

    @mxyzplk: Actually, there is such a word. It is “Abklatsch”, for your pronouncing convenience think of it as written like “upclutch” :).

    This word derises some object or thought as obviously fashioned to the likeness of a preexisting object or thought under the pretense of creative originality. It translates as rip-off / poor copy.

    As a technical term an “Abklatsch” is a cast taken from a flat surface.


  14. I knew the Germans would come through with a single word for such a concept! Thanks Matthias!

  15. Those wacky Germans have a word for everything. 🙂

    I think McBard had the best analogy yet; RoboRally. Everything is so mechanical; you don’t describe your actions, you pick a power to deploy, just like selecting a card in your hand in RR. Plus thee battlemat/game board comparison…

    That doesn’t reflect poorly on RR at all, of course, because RR doesn’t _pretend_ to be anything other than a combat/race board game.

  16. I think 4e looks great. I can’t wait to switch from 3e. Also I am not a kid, I have never played a CCG, and I have never played WOW or any MMO.

    Sure there are big changes, but everything is nice and streamlined now, and GMming will be a breeze. Yes magic works differently, but Vancian casting sucked, so I’m not sad to see it go.

    There were identical reactions when 3e came out. It wasn’t D&D. It was awful. Now everyone is arguing that 3e *is* D&D.

  17. I’m glad to see that I’m not just crazy, and that other people get the same impression off the new rules. And some people excuse it with “well, it can be houseruled…” But D&D is no longer the only game in town. When it was – yeah, you took it and made it work. But now I have to ask myself “Why would I do that work exactly?” In 1e, 2e, and 3e (and Basic set) I felt like there was enough cool core there to justify tweaking the bad parts. (Although even though I houseruled the crap out of 2e – adding Perception as a seventh stat, for example – I never felt the need to in 3e, except for a simplified skill mechanic eventually.)

    But reading 4e, I have the problem in that I don’t see the “soul” of D&D in there that would motivate me to put together a bunch of mods and forge forward with D&D. As I read through the thirty pages of combat legalese, I don’t think “neat!” as I read any individual bit, I just think “damn this is tedious.” And “Capture the Tedium!” isn’t a great marketing slogan.

  18. Well…I’m not one of “kids these days”. I’ve been playing d&d since the basic box with a dragon on it. I will admit to a couple of years on WoW, though 🙂

    So…4e looks totally amazingly awesome to my group. We’re all very excited. Of course, what we love are are the combats. When I’m running things I aim to spend 90% of the time in combat (not that I often achieve that kind of ratio, but it’s a great session when I do).

    To those of you griping about “roll-playing” (which doesn’t sound the least bit pejorative to me!) — well, we are the ones who need the rules. All the character stuff and story telling…well that’s where you need a decent dm, who shouldn’t need storytelling rules anyway!

    A little off track — I do remember that Pendragon managed to make personality more interesting in game terms by have stats and something akin to ‘challenges’ in order to decide how you wanted to act. So … yeah I liked it when the psychological aspect was made to involve dice-rolling, ha ha.

    Anyway, there is absolutely a d&d populace being catered to by the new rules, fyi 🙂

  19. Listen, DnD will need to go online at some point, the technology is just getting too good.

    The rules need to be compatable with online play, Vancian spellcasting? doesn’t work online. Munchkin multi-classers? nope. fighters auto-attacking while wizards shoot lasers out of their behinds and belch fire?

    With DnD online they realized the rules as they stood, sucked for online play. The trick was, can we make dnd 4e a rules system that can be used online?

    Hopefully, they’ve done it, because Greyhawk online would rock.

  20. It’s not that DnD4e is a WoW clone…it’s that if done right DnD4e could be the WoW killer.

  21. I’m always glad to see real gamers saying how awful this new edition is. I’ve been a loyal (and loving) fan of D&D since first edition. I wasn’t quite old enough to play the box sets, though I do own them.

    I have to admit, I’m horribly biased towards second edition, and resisted third edition with all my heart and sole…until I actually played it. Well, in the guise of Star Wars, but still…same mechanics. And I liked it. 3.5 still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m not entirely sure why yet.

    Anyway, getting back on topic here, 4e is a flop. No matter what the sales will say, it’s a flop because there’s nothing about it I find interesting that aren’t possible with a couple of house rules in 3e, or even 2e. The focus on death being a primary factor for you to be intelligent has slowly drizzled away into a feeling that death is just a part of every adventurer’s daily commute to the next dragon’s lair.

    And I’m glad to see that, after the release, most of the “OMG!!itsSOsuperGOODmmmmmNOMNOMNOM!” reviews have started to dwindle away in favor of “WTF is this?” reviews. That means the old school gamers, who remember “save vs. death or die” are finally starting to reject WotC intervention in D&D. Or should I say WoDnD?

  22. Actually, I played 3E for a while, but was never as satisfied with it as I wanted and ditched it completely when WFRP V2 came out (I’m a WFRP player from the old V1 days and it replaced D&D then as well).

    D&D 4E, whatever it is, is not D&D anymore, and we are not alone in saying that. Yesterday I went and picked up Castles & Crusades from my FLGS and the guy behind the counter was reading the new Core books and grimacing the entire time. He said he had to force himself to read them so he could answer customer questions, but like me, he thought WotC screwed the pooch on this one and was thinking of returning to WFRP.

    As for Castles & Crusades, I think I’ve finally found a version of D&D that I’m happy with. It’s like OD&D/AD&D 1e streamlined with the best ideas from 3E and a few other great ideas thrown in, sort of what a lot of people hoped 3E would be. Not only that, but it’s completely compatible with my old 1e stuff (only have to switch the AC around, so my Birthright campaign will live again!) AND the two core books only set me back $40. When it comes to needing my old school adventuring fix, I’m set for the forseeable future…

  23. I’m just a young player — I discovered RPGs only two years ago. But I had been a huge MMORPG fan for a couple years before that. Completely different experiences, and different groups of friends who gather to play. I love that D&D lets me create a character I can mold and guide; 4e seems really restrictive and seems to mimick my online gaming experiences. If I want to play an MMORPG, I will. I don’t want to waste my time duplicating that experience around a table with a pen and paper. Our group has decided to continue with 3e for the foreseeable future.

  24. Dungeons and Dragons Online didn’t change the game in order for better online play.

    Honestly, Neverwinter Nights does a better job of sticking to the rules that DDO just arbitrarily uses at a whim. DDO is such a diversion from the ruleset that I don’t think it should carry the label honestly. But as long as they have kobolds I guess its ok.

    Could DnD be put into a computer game and still follow the rules. Absolutely. Why they dont do it? Marketing and Money. DUH!

    There are applications like Fantasy Grounds out there that let you play the pnp game over the internet w/o sacrificing. Great product, only downside is its slower than a live game because some people go afk.

    There is allot of heat about 4e going around and my 2cp is that its too great of a diversion of what my vision is for fantasy. Giving a fighter magical abilities like the kind found in book of the nine swords is too much. Its now being turned into moreso into hack n slash game and less role playing and problem solving/character development.

    Well WoTC needs to make money too right? Thus Marketing…

  25. I disagree with your review on most of its points. Yes given the first 3 books out, its hard to run ‘classic’ games due to changes in the races/classes (though classes change so much between every edition that if you can’t get over the fact that your sorceror now is a warlock… your missing the point). Its not to hard to look at the back of the MM to get your classic races though, and noone says you have to let eladrin and dragonborn in your temple of elemental evil…
    As to whineing about squares… a square is still 5’… I know adding 5 and 5 can be difficult sometimes.. but really, is it so bad?

    On to vanceian… how was this not completely a game balanceing mechanic. How did you rp off suddenly forgetting spells cause you cast them… Fighter asks “why can’t you cast fireball again’.. oh its just to tireing.. METEOR SWARM.. Fighter ” woah.. that was huge… thought you were tired?

    The vancian system was also flawed in terms of game balance. Most DMs didn’t run 10 some encounters per day to actually run a mid-high level wizard out of spells, so the idea that haveing a limited amount of vastly more powerfull abilities balanced you to another class that had unlimited use of less powerful abilities was flawed logic. There was never a time for the fighter to shine, cause the wizard always had a few spells left that overshadowed his most powerfull abilities.

    4e fixed so much that the few things it lost along the way (and you can bet we will see them again after a few more books) can be easily forgiven. 4e is a huge step forward, and just cause it used a few things from MMOs that btw work very well to have both the feeling of power without it getting out of hand, doesn’t mean its ripping anything off. Many more RPGs then WOW have these same dynamics, and all WotC has done is make them work for pen and paper as well.

    D&D still has something MMOs will never have, and thats the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want in the game. Thats what makes 4e ten times better then WOW, and why I will be playing it instead of hideing from your level 69 priest.

  26. My impressions after starting my new campaign setting in 4E:

    – combat is fluid, interesting and FAST
    – there is far less paperwork to do as a DM
    – things get a little ‘arcadey’ at times in combat..

    In practice, here’s the comparison of my old 3/3.5 sessions to 4e. A 3.5 session would usually be one combat encounter which ate up the entire session, then meager time for plot advancement. At higher levels, we had encounters span more than one session, especially if the cleric or wizard had to fill out the dozens of spell islots prior. Vancian magic is a sacred cow that had to go. However, in 4E, combat goes so fast that we can have hours of NPC conversation, mysteries solved, lands explored, and still have several encounters.

    Also: minions are the best thing ever to happen to the game! Hordes upon hordes of goblins crashing against you in a wave! Zombies roaming the countryside in huge groups! And I don’t have to freakin’ track their hp!

  27. 4E *is* indeed a different game from 3, and there are a lot of people with mixed thoughts on it. Here’s my take.

    4E is a heavily developed combat system lacking in nearly any roleplay rules of any kind, it’s written in the context of dungeon delving and combat, so things like craft are absent. Even paladins, long hamstrung by the LG alignment, are no longer so restricted. (And that’s neither good or bad, it creates all new concepts for how the class works, bane can have paladins and we don’t have to create a blackgaurd for it. just change the flavor.)
    I’m not happy about being bound to grids, but I have to admit that the combat spices up when the classes participate together with their abilities, and the grids do achieve the goal of simplified battles.
    My friends and I have played a three hour session, and I’ll tell you what, the only thing that changed in any dramatic way was the combat.
    Since there are no heavy roleplaying rules (and mind you this is playing without the DMG) we were able to have a game very similar to the one I remembered from all theses years. Outside of combat, everything was as it was, we were hunting for food and the others helped me with my nature check, and that was the only other real rule that we ran into, and it was blessedly easier than 3E, a simple over 10 rule. In short, we spent two and a half hours roleplaying and about 30 minutes in a single combat (by the end of which everyone understood how to play among a group of almost all newbies, a first for me).

    Now it’s true what you all say, combat is not as it was. However, I think you’ll find that- if you actually sit down and hear the game out- combat feels more like FF Tactics than world of warcraft. And this works out in fun ways. There’s nothing to keep you from doing all the things we loved before except boundaries that I see you creating for yourselves. For example, Fey Step has a 5 square teleport range. There are trees on the Shadowfell encounter maps. There is absolutely no rule saying that I am bound to the 2d map, or even to think in squares, but nearly everyone seems to be locked into that mindset already. The grids are tools to simplify distance and effect, not the be all and end all of what the world looks like, not a cage for your characters. So I teleported into a tree to throw spells from, and the kobolds were confounded. Later on, we had a conversation with a sage, and I ended up teleporting again (old man who never shuts up type) and later on yet I ended up using prestidigitation to foul the beer of a sour tavern wench. All the same stuff I was doing before, except that I can use magic more regularly, which is a taste issue. If the DM wanted me to use magic less frequently, we could actually do some cool roleplaying, like the people being afraid of the otherworldly powers rather than saying “Oh well, he’s thrown around two fireballs, he can’t have too many more, no need to call the guard.”
    It’s true, 4E doesn’t give you much in the way of roleplaying, but if you really are so dedicated to roleplay, you’ll remember that we don’t need rules for it, and that you can carry on just fine.
    As for character customization, 3E was originally pretty shallow on the point. It’s unfair to compare the two on that because all your basing off of is the multitude of supplements that have risen over the years. In the beginning, 3E was a shadow next to 2E Players Option, today, there are more 3E player supplements with optional rules than ever in the hobby.
    Don’t be bound to letting so-called professional game designers (who you all seem pissed at anyway) to bind you into ways of thinking and being creative that come only out of published works. To create Thil Thalad (tolkien fan) of the Winter Winds, I took a wizard, and defied their template, changed some spell descriptors (with DM approval) and came up with a level one frost mage who was a hell of a lot of fun to play. When you stop thinking “this class is for AOE and this spell is for single target” and start thinking “yeah, ice powers!” that sort of thing happens. I changed the Acid Arrow spell to a freeze arrow (“The kobold falls to the ground as a gathering layer of frost emanating from the icy arrow covers it’s shivering body”), and renamed all my spells with more interesting names, (ray of frost became Blades of the Winter Wind) and around the character my DM and I have evolved the idea of the Wizards of the Winter Winds, a secluded school of frost mages living deep in the feywild, commanded by a gheale of winter sorceress and seer.
    As with the beginning of 3E, there are no options forbidden to you, the books that hand you ideas on a platter simply haven’t been written yet, and if your either willing to wait for those supplements or – god forbid- do something creative yourselves, I think you’ll find that you can have the same experience as before. Backwards compatibility? I thought you didn’t want a video game clone and we’re using catchphrases that came out with the PS2.
    You wanna play a monk? What’s to keep you from renaming fighter skills and applying them to unarmed damage? What keeps your wizard from spending time and effort- a roleplaying function- researching the ritual to summon a familiar? Want a craft skill? Is your pencil broken or your character sheet just full? Back in my 2E days, we had to do all this kind of tweaking as well, it just took another twenty minutes where here it’s three. The point I am trying to make here is that the edition is not a failure in that it is a poor design, but rather that it is being compared to over ten years of predecessor by an audience got lazy in the wealth of ideas-on-a-plate, which 3E also had to compete with, except at that time, everyone was so desperate to get away from THAC0 that it didn’t matter. The difference here is that 3E is a perfectly viable system that is still fun to play, however 4E provides a quicker game in terms of mechanics, and if you’re interested in getting through the dice and into the story quicker, there you are. 3E has the advantages of a vast library of supplements, and highly detailed and customizable description system with with many are familiar, so if you want that gritty detail instead of fast and loose rules with more story, then have at it.
    It seems to me that the majority of complaints are coming from rules lawyers who have read the books from cover to cover without actually sitting down to play. Yes, you horrible creatures of the dark, a whole new rule set will keep your wolf pack off us art-players for a while, and even when you do get it all memorized, this edition isn’t complex or arcane enough for you to spend twenty minutes debating the benefits and requirements of flanking with us anymore. Flanking happens in ways that are dramatically appropriate and mechanically simple. And the Wish ritual works however I want it to. ha ha.
    Last, no matter what you think of the other things I’ve said here, one point I’m going to be very clear on, and that’s art complaints. This is supposed to be a community of creative, imaginative individuals, cookie cutter thinking like that is what makes white-wolf-only gamers scoff at d&ders. If your imaginations bind you to the illustration of a monster drawn in a book, then clearly an MMO where they all look alike is where you belong, where other people dictate the world and it’s creatures to you. If you still want willowy forest women for dryads, then you may still see that in your minds eye- if you can.

    And for the record, when it came out, I made all the same defenses for 3E, “you don’t need Players Option and granted powers to do excorsim, just say that your turn undead applies to demons.”

  28. it seems to me there’s a lot of “AAWWWRGGGHHHHHH I HATE 4E BLARGH YOU SHOULD TOO GRAAHHHHH” going on here, first of all, and I think the asshats who figure it’s their job to tell everyone how to play dungeons and dragons need to get off their high horses and look at this from a new player/old, bored player perspective. if you’re dissatisfied with 3e, 4e is a much better alternative to look at. it’s faster, easier to pick up and play, you don’t have to spend hours planning your dungeons out only to have the pcs say “hey, lets go through this happy forest” and ignore the crap out of all of your hard work. seriously, me and my buddy cameron got on the phone with a couple of friends last night at like 9:00 with NOTHING to start up a session, and by 10:30 we had 6 characters, four dungeons, and an entire adventure planned. we were finally done, after hours of laughter and fun, by about 4am. and you know what? only one player in the group had been playing dungeons and dragons for more than a month. that adventure kicked so much more ass than what any of the people in my game had come up with during the whole duration of our 3.5 experience. honestly, we kinda suck at the whole rules-learning stuff. we weren’t certain after two weeks how to make a 3.5 character, much less an adventure. I freakin dmed a 5-hour session last night that gave us so much joy, and I picked up the rulebooks and read for an hour in prep time.

    so maybe you hate 4e because it’s not d&d. maybe it betrays some crucial part of 3.0 or 3.5 that you loved. but if you say to yourself, “hey, this is fun, let’s play a different game!” 4th edition is undefeatable as a fun, person-to-person sort of game that the impersonal, mechanical, “cyber-sex”-esque computer game just can’t match. it retains the interaction, without all the hassle of rules crunches, and yet gives you a speedy, easy to understand format to express what you’re doing without needing a computer screen to tell you or an apparently shitty dm to fail at attempting to help you roleplay. plus, it clearly took you guys less than a week to learn the rules so deeply inside-and-out that you can make educated complaints, so either you have too much free time or it really is ridiculously easy to learn and play 😉

  29. Pingback: the only haven you can trust » Patch Day

  30. So if you don’t like 4e, you’re an Asshat, hm?

    It’s great that you think 4e ROXXORZ!1!, but no need to get your knickers in a twist and get insulting because there are those of us who dislike the paradigm shift from ‘the original fantasy RPG’ to CCG/MMO/BG for the ‘Kewl Powerz’ set or whatever paradigm WotC have shifted the brand over to now.

    The whole point made in this blog entry is not whether the game is ‘better/worse’ than’ or ‘more/less difficult’ or even ‘fun/not fun.’

    The point made is that it is not a game that depends heavily on verisimiltude and role-play, but rather a game that depends on being ‘balanced to the Nth Degree’ and havign lots of minitures to move around. One example of this design philosophy: most of the ‘powers’ make no sense in a role-playing environment and seem to exist solely to facilitate moving minatures about in a neat way.

    Not only that but the powers are all pretty much the same in everything but name and the classes have all been blanded out in the name of ‘making everyone as equal as possible in combat.’ It’s like the RPG version of communism.

    I accept the fact that others might find this fun. I don’t and niether do many others. Enough ‘others,’ in fact, to make me wonder if WotC might have misunderstood the ramifications of trying to draw in people who would rather sit and just play a MMO, let the computer do all the hard work and just get down to the business of whacking things and going on ‘runs’ into ‘quest areas,’ while alienating the older players who make up the lions share of their niche market.

    I played 3e until I saw the direction it was going and 3.5 pretty much hung it up for me. I thought I’d get into 4e, but then I read the books and said, ‘This isn’t D&D to me, this is a bloody videogame that makes me do all the work.’

    No thanks, I’ll stick to WFRP and C&C. If I want to play a minatures game, I’ll stick to WFB or any number of boardgames in my closet and if I want to be part of the vidiot generation, I’ll start a WoW account, but there’s no way I’m spending $100 on psuedo-D&D…

  31. Taigan:

    On to vanceian… how was this not completely a game balanceing mechanic. How did you rp off suddenly forgetting spells cause you cast them… Fighter asks “why can’t you cast fireball again’.. oh its just to tireing.. METEOR SWARM.. Fighter ” woah.. that was huge… thought you were tired?

    Just thought I’d enter my two cents in here on this. For starters, there are such things as “material components”, which, once they are exhausted, casting the spell is impossible. You could use that theory and say “you’re out of bat guano.” Or however you spell it…the primary component for Fireball. I forget what the material component for Meteor Swarm is, but I’m sure it’s much more than batsh*t.

    But, since there are spells with no material components, I take it one step further. All mages carry two spell books: a reference book which is huge and bulky, and a combat one, which is small and magical. When he ‘memorizes’ spells, what he does instead is casts the spell into his magical book, which uses a page. Script appears on the page, and allows the caster to read it out, loosing its magical power on unsuspecting people. He also prepares his material components in a pouch on his belt, for easy access. His level (and previous experience) tells him how many spells should be sufficient for one day. Thus, a first level (and quite naive) mage would think a single first level spell sufficient, while a 20th level (and highly experienced mage) would prepare more.

    This idea even works in 3e and 3.5e with wizards getting more spells per level than in 2e, since it’s intelligence based. A smarter wizard would prepare more than a less intelligent wizard.

    There are ways a good DM can justify Vanceian spell casting, and have it make sense.

  32. “4e Brings Balance! Now the other classes have a chance to shine!”

    Sorry, if you are letting the mage do all the work you are not playing your class to the hilt. Make called shots, pull off crazy stunts. I play Hackmaster (KenzerCo.) and the fighter rogue in our party could totally waste my druid/mage if he wanted to. Not because of rules, or powers, or munchkin uber-builds; because he effin knows how to play his character to the hilt. If we were on an adventure and i blew all my spells every 2-3 encounters and then begged for a rest, the party would spike me in a room and continue on. If this is how you are playing and whining about batman mages then its not the ruleset thats the problem. 4e simply gives everyone an excuse to blow their dailies and encounters, spike themselves in the room and rinse repeat.

    Balance? The new Wraith is nothing but a block of pulp stats and abilities, now that save v. die is gone (4e players are cowards, there i said it). I remember back when the logical answer to coming across a Wraith was to effin run. By the way, RAW it is better in 4e to let a wraith kill you. Seriously. “Whenever a Humanoid is slain by a (x type)wraith it is raised as a FREE-WILLED (x type) wraith on its creator’s next turn.” WTF so now i have a good reason to seek out wraiths and get killed by one. Now i have undead bonus’, some new at will abilities, and because monsters can be leveled now and i’m free willed, i’ll just keep on truckin. Sweet now i’m an xp-mine, because every monster i get killing blow on creates another monster in its place. Or, as a DM, i have the BBEG Kobold Shaman bind a wraith, now when the party shows up i have it kill my own loyal minions and voila, TPK.

    I seriously believe that the designers of 4e deliberately castrated the wizard just to laugh at him. All of the iconic spells of earlier editions are pathetic. They shouldn’t have even left cloudkill and disintegrate in with the way they trashed them.

  33. I’ve been playing 2nd edition for a long time (never went to 3rd, didn’t like it) and I think 4th looks great.

    What I disliked about 2nd edition was the level vs power of classes… Level 1 to 6-7, warrior were THE rulers. If you had a warrior in the group, he was the one dealing damage. Level 9 to 18 was now mage level, where the spells got so strong it was a joke. There was also a flaw with THACO vs AC, where player could pick stuff and hit EASILY a lot of monsters at level 8-9.

    For 3rd edition, only experience I had is NWN2, which had me take a LONG text file to make a good rogue/assassin build. This is a matter of taking the right level at the right time with the right skill to own. I’m not a “I WANNA BE UBER” player and hate people doing it, so 3rd edition is out.

    In 4th edition, every classe is strong at every level. Players doesn’t die from 1 attack at level 1 if they are unlucky. Taking skill is easy and you can’t combine bonuses to OWN EVERYONE. There is a LOT of combat options (warrior doesn’t have to attack with weapon, attack with weapon, attack with weapon)…

    I bought the book and will play that edition for sure 🙂 I think it’s a new D&D that everyone will adapt with their way of playing.

  34. I have been playing / DM’ing for around 25 years now and remember the red box fondly. That said, I would rather retire than play 4E.

  35. It’s the incompatibility issue that bothers me most. What will I tell my players in an FR campaign when they want to play a dragon born? What about the gnome PCs? Do they just vanish?

    Are there any conversion rules at all?

    This is the least successful D&D project since a certain cartoon series …

    See my 4E review “Everyone’s A Wizard Now” at


  36. I find whats the most interesting is not really the review, or the posters opinions. Its the ever living, breathing, crying, dying, drama, love, hate, backlash that is the internet’s worldwide soapbox.

    I mean really people.

    4E sucks cause its different from 3e.


    If thats all you got, go back to 3.5. You know, the version they didn’t have right the first time, so that they could sell you all the same books with minor rules tweaks. You know, when the rules tweaks that by themselves weren’t enough to warrant the next jump. You remember the drama. I’m sure you can search the net for all the whining, crying and bitching by EVERYONE and their brothers about having to buy all the books over again and this is not fair and blah blah, WotC die of VD and rot in hell.

    Damn. Does nothing satisfy you?

    Worse then that is all the fools who get on here to bitch and moan about nothing. You don’t like it? Fine. Fix it. Make up your own rules. Pencil in your own names for abilities. Wait for them to release more supplemental books. Or don’t. Go back to 3.5 where you can make your super-tricked-out-character-and-bend-the-rules-to-your-will. Just don’t come here bitching about how you happened to roll a 1 and got killed by a save-or-die effect. Cause that helps foster good RP when the character you’ve spent so much time, energy and experience on just up and dies without asking. Very rude.

    Personally, I like most of the changes. I like that rogues are now ACTUALLY useful against undead. Or that every class has a heal mechanic but it doesn’t take away the usefulness of a cleric. Or that the fighter can actually tank so the mobs don’t just ignore him or I as the DM have to ROLL A DIE to figure out who the random fool is that is about to be attacked by the bout of randomness the monster is suddenly experiencing.

    That doesn’t mean I like them all. I personally don’t like the removal of gnomes as a player race. But the funny thing is, I CAN STILL PLAY THEM. Oddly enough they still appear in the back of the Monsterous Manuel.

    So my advice is to not listen to me or anyone else for that matter. Look it over yourself, then make your own informed decision. Cause any character that lets themselves be railroaded is the fault of both the idiot who feels he has the real pulse of the situation going on, and the other guy for listening.

    Enjoy 4E! Or not. Whatever you decide.

  37. @Shadai – the main problem with your line of reasoning is that it assumes D&D is the only RPG in existence. It’s not.

    4e isn’t bad because it’s “different” from 3e. It does, however, make design and implementation decisions that are bad IMO.

    Someone should only spend time fixing up 4e if that’s likely to be better than just using some other game – 3e, a 3e variant like pathfinder, or another game altogether (Savage Worlds, Eldritch, etc).

    Sure, I encourage everyone to make up their own mind, but I think it’s a little retarded to say “Buy all three books, then play them for months, then make up your mind!” That’s a used car salesman’s dream pitch. How about I do some logical analysis first to see if it’s good enough to even try out?

  38. Actually, it doesn’t. Read Carefully.

    If you don’t like D&D, don’t play it. Play whatever your heart desires. If L5R is your bag, who am I to bash it? If you really like World of Darkness, Why would I come out and try to convince you not to like it?

    If you don’t want to “Fix” it, as you suggest, then don’t. Play something else. Play 3E. I don’t care. Neither does anyone else.

    “Sure, I encourage everyone to make up their own mind, but I think it’s a little retarded to say “Buy all three books, then play them for months, then make up your mind!” That’s a used car salesman’s dream pitch. How about I do some logical analysis first to see if it’s good enough to even try out?”


    1. I’m not a used car salesman (my poor attempt at humor, sorry)
    2. I never said that. Once. Not even close.
    3. Logical analysis does not include listening to random people’s opinion. What qualifies the random person’s rants and thoughts? Who are they to bash/praise the book? What makes them know more then someone else? No one stops to think of these things. Listen to people you trust, or, better yet, read it yourself. If you don’t want to go and buy the books, borrow them from a friend. Or steal em from the net. Whatever blows your skirt up.

    I welcome your opinion as to you thinking the design is bad. Fine. Just don’t try to tell everyone that you are right and everyone else is wrong. That’s not logical analysis. That’s not even a good opinion. Its the same crap that pervades the internet that makes this such a soapbox for everyone to bitch about nothing.

    Besides, its just like the internet, all cycles. First there is a buzz about how awesome something is, then its released and the backlash/bashing begins as everyone thinks it sucks, then like a few months later everyone backlashes the backlash and its “not as bad as everyone thought”.

    If you think I’m making commentary about 4e, read carefully. 4e is just the medium I’m using to make a larger, more interesting point that your missing entirely.

  39. If you don’t think people should share their analyses and opinions of things, why the hell are you reading someone’s blog anyway?

    Anyway, I like to think my opinions in my 4e writeups are fairly well reasoned. “Opinion” does not mean “arbitrary.” We all choose the people we trust, and often in this Internet age we choose to trust people on the Net whose inclinations seem to be similar to ours and whose analyses seem cogent.

    Anyway, it’s a silly argument to have, because by your reasoning you shouldn’t be posting Internet comments trying to get people to listen to you either. “My opinion is that people shouldn’t listen to your opinion because opinions are worthless!” is a pretty old and wearisome logical fallacy.

  40. I like D&D 4th edition. It is not perfect, however it is fun. I ran 3.5 edition a while back with an evil campaine and burnt myself out on D&D altogether.
    I had a group of 6 people together from level 3 to level 24 and after a while combat and the likes just got tedious. I had fighters making 5 attacks. Wizards with spells that required somewhere in lue of 20 D6s to roll.
    4th edition has got me playing D&D again. While the faces have changed I don’t think its terrible. I have never shoved myself into one realm or another in terms of D&D realms like forgotten realms and it’s ilk. I take everything and make it my own. So its overarching line makes little diffrence to me. I like to read what they are doing with it but then I go off and dream my own stuff up instead.
    Abilities are a bit combat thick with little outside of it, but now I can have a fighter with skills. Not just the few points I desperately put into spot to make sure I’m not ambushed. I can have knowledge skills and what not to show my character has been fairly worldly.
    Lastly I like some of the shoving and knock back rules. In some cases they make sense. My halfling rogue is not going to be able to muscle an orc into that pit trap (let alone an ogre) however I can force him into it through combat positioning and the right kind of feints.
    While I dislike things that force me to use a game board to keep track of things I still use a gameboard for combat in almost every other system I run. Its easier to keep up with combat positions and show room sizes. The imagination is what fills in the rest.
    All and all I give it a thumbs up. Combat is fun though a board is basically required. I like the skill system. Much broader and less inhibiting by class then it was in the past. Give it a whirl. It’s not the best it could be but having played many RPG systems since I was 12 I can certainly say its far from the worst.

  41. I wrote a pretty long rant about DnD 4e on my blog, where I try to characterize the 4E haters. They’re generally, the min-maxers, the 40 year old virgins and the folks who missed the point all along. To me, the best part about 4E is the idea that it boils down to roleplaying again. Gne is the ability to make the wu-jen/ninja/anti-paladin/sorceror who wears plate. Now, you have to RP a little bit. Build a bridge and get over it.

    The 2E holdouts are my faves. have a good read, enjoy!



  42. I have all the core books. I am enjoying reading them but I agree with many of you. This is not D&D, AD&D or anything close to it. This actually is a new game. I still have all my old D&D and AD&D books from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ed. and I think, in the end, I will be going back to the ol’ 2ed. I liked it better. I was always the AD&D Variant guy. So, now that I have all these books, I have materials to pull from. The 4th ed. is fine for new players. Folks that never played before. For us experienced players, the old books are where I would go back to.

  43. I forgot to comment on the Combat stuff. I do like how so many things are taken into account but in the end, I truly do HATE having to figure out so many bits and pieces. Give me a few numbers and my dice. If there are some numbers to add, then my question to the player will be simple. ” what is the magical bonus your item gives you?”. heh heh

  44. This has been an interesting read, especially the comments. I’m a very long time intermittent D&D player. I must admit I still have nostalgic reverence for 1e. That’s what drew me to Castles and Crusades. it brings back the old feel without the min/maxing.

    I never enjoyed 3e as the rules were too tedious. The munchkins and rules lawyers drove me mad.
    having just bought the 4e phb yesterday and creating two characters last night, I agree that this isn’t D&D, it may be what some people
    are looking for, but not me. IMO They should have called it Draconics and Demonics.

    The good thing is that now there are so many good alternatives out there. Castles and Crusades, Pathfinder, Epic rpg, Lejendary Adventure, True20 and even the old guys Gurps and Rolemaster. If you like the new D&D fine, if not move on, I did.

  45. The real problem isn’t ‘moving on.’ The real problem is reading a review in which an authour doesn’t like the game or simply commenting that you’d prefer to spend your money on and play something else. God forbid it shouldn’t be to your taste, because you’ll get ripped a new one in the comments section as the 4e cheering section takes you apart. They’re like friggin’ piranha.

    Really. And it’s usually the same lot shouting down anyone who disagrees with the idea that 4e was handed down from WotC like the Ten Commandments from God.

    The game isn’t D&D anymore and the game that is there isn’t really any different from Descent, outside of the fact that Descent is easier to play and comes with an assload of models, dungeon tiles, cards and other material, and all for cheaper than the three core books (which now require minis and dungeon tiles to play properly as wel las a tone of notecards to keep track of al lthe friggin powers). Considering that, and the fact that the 4e fanatics are so odious I’ve been totally put off of the idea of anything with the D&D label, I’d rather get Descent and Road to Legends instead…

  46. I’m going to quote what I wrote on Bill Castello’s blog:

    “2nd remains my favourite but you know what? That’s actually mostly because of the wide mix of different settings. Planescape, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Ravenloft, Birthright, and even goddamn Mystara. I’m a settings whore. I liked 3rd Edition alright as well, even though I never actually played it, I kept up with some of the books and have a few friends who used it. I liked how it updated some things (wizards can now HOLD swords) while keeping a lot of the flavour, mythology and cosmology intact, even if they did gut Planescape.

    I tried 4th Edition a few weeks ago and it just doesn’t seem to have as much personality to me. It’s not the rules changes that turned me off really (although I didn’t like certain things, like marking) it’s what I saw as an almost complete removal of the old school flavour that I liked. It’s not a big deal to me though, I still have my books and I can look at them and play a game set in Greyhawk or Sigil or Taladas anytime I want to.

    And hey, I like new editions of many RPGs myself. I liked the Rifts Ultimate Edition (even if it was not really a new edition, more like D&D 3.5) I like the new(er? is it still being supported?) Pendragon much more than the old one. In fact the only other game where I completely do not like the new edition is White Wolf’s WoD, and that’s also for flavour/setting reasons.

    Enjoy 4th Edition, I’m glad you do, and you doing it doesn’t spoil my fun.”

    Basically I think a lot of the people who don’t like 4th Edition just don’t like the new flavour.

  47. Spot on – the best critique yet of 4.0 from an older, experienced gamer who knows the previous editions of Dnd well. I second this line of thought. I agree completely with the original post. I almost thought “Did I write this, lol”

    FYI: For my DND gaming Im going with either pathfinder or 3.5 with monte cooks book of experimental might. If I want to play WOW, Ill play WOW online, not with books………

  48. Pingback: Reflections on D&D 4e Love & Hate « MadBrewLabs

  49. 4th ed. is just another RPG with a D&D logo plastered on it. I’ve never in my 28 years of playing rpg’s picked up a rules set and thought “Hey this is perfect!”. I’ve always tweaked the rules to suit my desires and am doing the same with 4th ed. Am I going to shelve my 3.5 books? No. But I’m not going to soil myself over the complete rewrite in 4th ed. either. It’s just another game to have fun with. Play what you want and stop being a bunch of pissy babies.

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  51. This is why i’m going to attempt to create DnD 3.9

  52. I’m from South Africa and I have been playing DnD for 20 years now, using as a basis the Mystara setting – mostly DMing and this is my take as well as the others of my crew:
    4E rules are actually quite good – (we’ve played). Its actually a lot more solid than 3.5, it requires less tweaking. As for the Gnomes and other classes – they’re coming out be patient (and as someone already mentioned they’re in the MM at the back).

    The main issue most experienced gamers have with the new edition is 1) that not enough time has passed since the last edition – we havent had our fill – we’re still enjoying the multitude of options we have available from 3.5 – we as players havent had the time to try out even 50% of all that has been released and already a new edition with new look is upon us. 2) the new system is that completely new, not an update or an improvement but a fresh variant system with an old name. We’re not used to it – resistance to change is understandable 3) and with point 2 is the fact that the new system doesnt support all the dnd literature that came before it – the novels, the settings…etc Everything we grew up with – can you imagine Raistlin in 4E. Difficult!

    In my opinion 2nd Edition had the soul of DnD with a system that required much needed tweaking, but the spirit of DnD was strong with rich detailed classes and monsters. 3 and 3.5 was an improved system which eventually lost the plot with their over commercial zealousness – and its too much room for lawyering and combat time, but still maintained the fun aspect, 4E is balanced, simplified and scientific – and it encourages co-op and synergy between players like never before (in combat), its greatest flaw is that it is the creation of a souless cold system of WoW one which a DnD player of old can never align to – even though the mechanics work fine.

    4E is arrogant in that it ignores all previous fantasy literature – it doesnt compliment, it stands alone, yet it is classified as DnD.

    The system is good but different, Im still quietly developing a 3.5 4E mix played with the soul of 2nd Ed. Wish me luck!

  53. “if you’re dissatisfied with 3e, 4e is a much better alternative to look at. it’s faster, easier to pick up and play”

    If you can honestly say that 4E is faster than…well, anything you can think of, God bless you.

    About the only thing that’s fast about 4E for anyone of my experience is learning the rules, and that’s because there’s only one rule and it’s “try to remember all the modifiers applying to you this round before you roll”.

  54. Just had to post with a comment to Applecrow that if your group really could beat the druid/mage (what a terrible choice of classes btw) that the druid/mage is a complete idiot. You are also an idiot if you’d just ‘spike’ a character for wanting to rest, and for wanting to be killed by a wraith. You’re a bad roleplayer.

    Oh and most of you are grognards with no imagination. I said it.

  55. Most Games Have a Purpose

    Wow for MMORPGS
    D&D 1, 2 or 3 for roleplay
    Puerto Rico/ Power Grid for boardgames
    D&D 4e for scrappers to recycle the paper for worthy games

  56. Speaking as a gamer since the 1st edition, and a retailer who earns a living from the sale of RPG products, 4e to me is a failure in all respects. The best thing to come of 4e is that all my OOP 3.5 books started selling like hotcakes. Scratch that.. nobody really knows what that means in sales figures; 3.5 books started selling like Cabbage Patch Kids in December of 1985. Now I’m all sold out, can’t get any more, and I got only 4e books coming out and sitting unsold on the shelf, looking forlorn. I actually had a girl come in a couple weeks ago, buy a 4e DM’s Guide, then bring it back later that day saying its not the one she wanted. She didn’t know the difference at first, but then she said she wanted the “old one.” Luckily, I found a distributor that had 5 copies of the 3.5 DMG left, and I was able to snatch them all up. She’s happy now, and I sold two more 3.5 DMGs just yesterday. 4e books just sit.

    Now, as a DM, I absolutely loathed running last year’s Worldwide D&D Game Day with 4e. Hobgoblins with 38 hit points? It seriously took an hour and a half to resolve one encounter with 4 1st level characters against two hobgoblins. Miss, miss, miss, hit, 4 damage (everybody still has 20+ hp left), someone starts to get low on life, healing surge, everybody’s full again, hobgoblin misses, hobgoblin gets hit, he takes 6 damage, he’s at 28 now, miss, miss, miss… yawn, yawn, snore.

    This is how it should go: Quick! Roll initiative and get the drop on them! Fighter swings first, takes off one hobgob’s arm; that’s what I call a disarm attempt!~ The wizard drops a daze cantrip on the other one so the cleric can grapple him without suffering an AOO, and the cleric then holds down the gobby while the rogue lays down the coup de grace. Whimpering and moaning, the one-armed hobglob tries to make a run for it, but the fighter whips out a throwing axe and lobs it at the back of his head, shattering his skull. One round- OVER. Next!

    What they did was try to make 1st through third levels more interesting by beefing everything up, when all they really did was make you spend more time fighting stupid hobgoblins and orcs. We all know that what we really want to do is kill beholders and ride on the backs of dragons, so the quicker we get to that point, the happier we’ll all be.

    Also, the 4e wizard is about as intelligent as a bag of hammers. So the party stops at a deep, narrow gorge that can’t easily be crossed, it’s just too far to jump, about 30 feet wide. The wizard says, “I think I have a spell for this,” and he promptly casts Freezing Cloud. “Hmm… cold doesn’t seem to work on this gorge, perhaps a Flaming Sphere will do the trick.” Fwoosh! nothing. “Egad! This gorge is similarly immune to fire! Perhaps if I put it to sleep first…” sleep spell, “There. That seems to have done the trick. It’s completely docile now, captain. With a utility jump spell I can even add a square to your movement, should you dare to leap across. Of course you’ll need to already have the ability to leap 5 squares on your own…”

    “What is a square, wizard? What are these obscure measurements you riddle me with?”

    4e is an excellent combat system that works. However, it is an excellent combat system that works outside of the realm of fantasy role-playing. In here, with our gamer’s imaginations, the system is too confining, too pre-optimized. There are character builds which just obviously work better than others, and those are the ones that will be used, over and over. Unfortunately, they are not based on any previous fantasy literature or even on any previous editions of D&D. These new archetypes, like the Dragonborn Warlord or the Tiefling Warlock seem more like classic villains than heroes of any kind. It’s hard to imagine characters like Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Elric of Melnibone or even Elminster of Shadowdale ever fitting in with this edition.

    Finally, the books seem to be written for morons: “Play a Dragonborn if you want… to look like a dragon.”

    I rest my case.

  57. I hesitated to buy 4th edition, but I finally took the plunge and could not be happier. The rules are streamlined and consistent across the board. Once you “know” how to play 1 class then you know how to play them all. And I for one am completely and utterly happy that they “fixed” Wizards. They were so grossly underpowered at low levels and then overpowered to the point of ridiculousness in the upper levels in 3rd edition that I actually considered banning them from my game at one point because nobody wanted to play anything but.

    To me, once we got passed the differences and just let the mechanics work, it felt more like it did when I was a kid leading my neighbors and brothers through the beginning adventure in the back of the blue book. The fun was back and the accounting system was gone.

    I’ve played wow (and many other MMOGs) and yes it is quite interesting how many correlations can be drawn with that style of game. But I guess I might be in the minority as one who welcomes the evolution of D&D and is glad the “spreadsheet required” part is all gone now.

    And aren’t you glad that there is zero mention of Drizz’t? I mean come on! Put that cow out to pasture already!

  58. @Wedge – 4e lovers, 4e haters, that’s one thing we can all agree on. Death to Drizz’t.

  59. Hey, I might as well add my 2cp. Well, i do admit that the rules are optimized and that they are all balanced. However, at least for now, 4e lacks the customization of 3x. I as a GM find 4e too constraining and while all the classes are balanced, the casting classes lack the utility spells that once made them useful. 4e appears to be mainly combat-based.

    Now, my group of players once went three full sessions in 3.5e without going into a single combat encounter. There are otehr times when the entire session is nothing but combat encounters. Though, we do tend to game for, roughly, 72 hours straight then crash and repeat it all again the next week.

    We’ve recently started to play in the WoD. mostly as whatever we want to play as. While the D10 system is sleek in the fact that it can go into any setting and make any character you want and still be balanced, it lacks the fine details that 3.5e had and 3.5e lacks the sleek balance of 4e. No system is perfect, just find one that suites yourself and be done with it.

    3.5e Rulez!

  60. Wedge is an employee of WOTC, or a designer of the game. What a suckered little pu$$y.

    4E is not D&D..and I hated it the moment the first details emerged. Most commentators know absolutely nothing about reviewing and said, “Oh this is great!” “Hey what a great idea” when it was anything BUT…makes me sick

  61. Wedge: “Once you ‘know’ how to play 1 class then you know how to play them all.”

    Wait a second…and that is supposed to be a GOOD thing?? Whatever happened to different classes having different playstyles and abilities? Now with 4e, every class is the same. Sure, wizards have “spells” and fighters have “feats,” but they are all just the same thing with different names. They gave every character the equivalent of spells, so that every class is special. And when everyone is special, no one is.

  62. I hesitate to comment, since if “none” decides to jab back, I’ll inevitably be pointed to as a WotC spy (I’m not, I swear).

    @Andy: No one class should be better than the others. That wasn’t the point in any edition. It’s why they gave wizards d4s for HPs in most editions and why in 4E they still get less for HPs, though it is harder to kill them at 1st level. There was never any grand plan that new players would play rogues and fighters, well-versed players would play mages/sorcerors and that the punk who started playing 3 sessions after everyone else got stuck being the cleric. Every edition has tried to make the classes more equitable, though not the same. I would argue that 4E has made them as equitable as possible, though I would concede that to many the classes now seem too similar and so now people don’t get to feel as special when they play the party mage.

    Maybe they went too far. Maybe it doesn’t suck to be the fighter in the group now. To be honest, if you want a game to be universally played(as WotC should as a business), introducing a learning curve is not going to help. Thus the simplification (or over-simplification, if you prefer) of the rules.

    In my opinion, play what you like to play. If 3.x floats your boat or even earlier editions, go nuts.

  63. @Steve: Yes, the classes DO seem very similar now, which was my point. I have no problem with classes being balanced, with benefits and drawbacks to each. But they should at least FEEL different, and when every class has at-will spell-like powers, they all feel the same.

    And again, I never thought that the difference between a fighter and a mage had to do with the expertise of the player. It had more to do with that player’s preferences and playstyle. Some people like to be the unstoppable juggernaut, while others prefer to be the glass cannon flinging magical energy around. But with 4e, everyone has those “special powers.”

    And I’m sorry, but why do you need a special attack to (say) knock someone back with your shield? Whatever happened to role-playing? Whatever happened to, “Okay, I’m going to charge this guy with my shield and push him into a pit”? Marking, attacks of opportunity, healing surges…they all seem designed to make the system more gamey, and less fantasy-realistic. You shouldn’t need instructions printed on a card to figure out that you can charge someone.

    • “You shouldn’t need intstructions printed on a card to figure out that you can charge someone.” True, but does the DM’s job become easier when there are instructions on how to resolve that attempt? Sure any experienced DM would be able to handle that situation without any hard-coded mechanical answer (more probably a soft coded one of her own designing), but does having that backtop make it simpler to jump into DMing? I think so.

      And maybe that’s a two edged sword. As wealth and the means of production become more concentrated in the hands of the few, so does a larger percentage of the world become consumers. I think an analagous situation may be occuring (though lagging temporally behind) in the ability to create imagistically in the minds of people. In other words, perhaps fewer and fewer people are capable or willing DMs while more are fitting the profile of a player.

      Why a two-edged sword, then? If we need more DMs then this 4e ruleset (which i have not read any of, i’m just basing this on the above comments), should serve to help people jump into DMing, with the mechanics of combat being quite spelled out. And in fact i think this is probably correct. More DMs mean more people who will learn to be good DMs, abandoning the mechanical constructions they may have initially seen as inescapable for their own _____s (be they mechanical, constructed, ethereal or otherwsie).

      But so could it encourage people to become DMs just cuz they can. And that might lead to a lot of bad DMs who rely too much on the rules.

      Personally, i like 2e and i find it a bit odd that 3e fans seem to be complaining that 4e “made things too balanced”. I guess i see the point that you want classes to feel unique. But the 3e multiclassing revolution was a big mechanics change to circumvent the powergaming possibilities afforded to 1e/2e human-dualclassers. No one ever forced anyone to level to 20 as a fighter (or to 9 or to 20 as a cleric) and then again to 20 as a magc-user, but powergaming forced out class being about style and characters being about character (from a game design standpoint, when marketing), and forced class selection to be about balance. Otherwise “everyone” would just the most combat and utility worthy min-max point and there would only be one class.

      Anyway i’ve rambled about enough, i hope you find what you are looking for.

  64. I do dislike how “the same” the classes are now. As a player, I don’t feel like I’m getting a different experience with a different one.

    Also, isn’t learning curve one of the things people love about D&D? And World of Warcraft, for that matter? A lot of the satisfaction WoW players (I’m not hating, I was one of them) get is not from purely levelling and getting treasure, it’s from mastery – you start being a PvE noob, then you get decent at PvP, then you do endgame instances, then you get into raiding… I’m not saying it has to be that way in an RPG, but clearly historically D&D has traded on increasing skill (Gygax goes on about this for an uncomfortably long time in his book Role Playing Mastery).

  65. I agree that there should be a learning curve, but most of that curve in previous editions were about picking your spells optimally. There was very little that the “martial” classes had in the way of neat things to do.

    Also, since mages could develop their own spells and there were a million and two spells in both the PHB and other books (e.g. Tome of Magic), mages ceased to be glass cannons since they could make themselves immune to damage (stone skin) and increase their armour as well (several different spells did this).

    Last minor point: Any character in 4E can just shove someone. It’s called “Bull Rush”. The difference is that a fighter with “Tide of Iron” can do that AND do damage. Why? Because they’re better at hitting people with shields and doing more than just shoving them. After more than 20 sessions of 4E so far, my players aren’t complaining about how their characters all feel the same, they’re mainly worried about what they’re doing in the setting, which is how I like it.

    Anyway, I’m not discounting your points. They’re very valid. I’m just not experiencing that with my game and no one has complained about the game system so far… although it does seem strange that warlords can use “inspiring word” on themselves 🙂

  66. Well, I agree that the martial classes needed spiffing up with something to do. Heck, I’m a Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords fan. In fact, it’s weird, when they were starting to talk about 4e and said “More like ToB, and Star Wars Saga!” I thought, “Boss!” But it just seems like what each class can do with their powers becomes so much more interchangeable.

    The Pathfinder approach with the barbarian rage abilities and whatnot seems to me to give a lot more martial options without making each class more “the same.” Just from reading the 4e PHB it seemed like so many of the powers were functionally identical from class to class.

    Though I’m glad your group isn’t finding it so. I’m sure it’s possible to run 4e in a way where that isn’t so glaring.

  67. MoonStoneOracle

    Well, I’ve been playing D&D all my life and I’ve played all the editions except the first. And I really can’t say that I’m disappointed or anything with D&D4e. Everyone says it isn’t the same game anymore but I can’t help but feel like people aren’t really giving it a chance. I feel like they were trying to make vast improvements on a pretty confusing gaming system.

    Maybe you think they dumbed it down or whatever, but I don’t know I think they’re trying to allow more people into the Dungeons and Dragons world, and isn’t that a good thing? That seems a bit elitist don’t you think?

    I personally like it just as much as the old editions. They all had something good about them but I felt like each one was trying to progress with the time and allow newer generations to get into it too.

    I think I read someone say something about how there’s no immersion or whatever. But I mean, you can make the game whatever you want to be so if you can’t get into it, isn’t that your dm’s fault really?

    I think there was just too much going on in the old edition. Just looking at some of the things were enough to make my head spin. There was too many skills to learn, the multiclass was all over the place, and spells were tedious and half of them weren’t even worth learning. Granted some of the skills in 4e are a little “eh”. But I think the goal was to make all of the races/classes more balanced so a wizard isn’t hiding in a corner after he’s run out of spells for the day.

    But this is just my opinion. If you aren’t a fan of 4e then continue to play 3 or 3.5e or whatever you wish. I don’t think anyone is forcing you to play the newest edition and I don’t think anyone’s going to call you crazy for it. I think 4e for most people is a 20 or 1.

    Forgive my horrible joke.

  68. Yum, Battle System, drool; Ok sorry drifting back to the days for the Blood stone pass modules. I wonder if I can dig them out and convert them to 4e.
    I picked up my first DND set when I was 12 and have been playing ever since. Four seven foot high book shelves, stacks of boxed games, countless dollars, and 22 years later; I can safely say I’m a Pen and Paper nut bag.
    When Fourth Edition was announced the earth shook and the dark clouds swathed over head as a result of my anger. Wizards had once again found a way to over commercialize and drain yet more of my hard earned scratch. “Not this time” is said. “No way am I forking out over hundred dollars in books” I thought.
    I have a fairly solid gaming community that I talk with; not as much as I would like since I work 60 + hours a week and have little time to play. At first when we talked about fourth edition they were on my side of things. I noticed however that over the past year their tune was changing. Words like, easy to just sit down and play, little to no prep time, and fun began to escape their lips. I finally borrowed a friend’s core set and began reading. There were things I like and things I did not that’s to be sure. At first the almost required use of miniatures made me mad but then as I thought about it, I play so many table top war games and have armies of miniatures; why did that bother me? In the end it did not. Long story short for me it is a very fun game. Having a wife, two kids, and a relentless work schedule, it is ideal that I can sit for a couple hours with friends and knock out a good RPG session.
    I would have to agree that the Role-playing should not be affected by any system. The RPG aspect of almost all games is left largely to the imagination of the group you are playing with regardless of the system.
    I just started running “The keep on the Shadow Fell” and while the module is a bit dry; I did not find it hard to spice up with a little flair.
    I will say I have made the following observations about those that I play with;
    Old timers like me really struggle emotionally with it at first, but in our groups case; the more they play it the more they like it, largely due to the speed of play. The first encounter in the module took us around 30 min. We played it out again a month later using the pre made characters; it took less than 15 minutes from the first init roll.
    Recent gamers, people who started with 3e, seem to really digit.
    We had one new guy join us, never played PnP, in his life. He loves it. The thing I noticed about 4e was how easy it was, compared to its predecessors, to teach and learn.
    Lastly I love the rituals, with a few exceptions like Knock, most of the rituals should be rituals in my not so humble opinion.
    Over all I would have to say that 4e rates about 7 out of 10 for me. Not the best I have seen but its gaining ground. If they get the tools implemented well, it could shoot up to 8 or 9. The character generator drove me up from 5 to 7. The very fact that you can crank out a character in detail in less than 30min just makes me giggle. The other thing to consider is that I suspect 4e core will stick around for a long time, if they are basing computer tools around them they will have a hard time switching the mechanics around.

    Master Sage

  69. what it boils down to in the end is this handy little maxism i have devised.

    “3E is to fantasy novels, what 4E is to World of Warcraft Porn.”

    3E is about infinite veriety in infinite combination. Yes it could be wroughted but it was upto the GM to put a stop to this.

    4E is just about self gratification, its about getting to the next sex scene… um *cough* i mean combat encounter, with as little talking as possible.

    4E haters have their buzz words, but most of our grievances are legitimate. 4E lovers also have their buzz words to describe pretty much any problem we have with the new system: Balanced & streamlined are their favourites.

    Just because something has been simplified or balanced doesn’t make it good.


  70. @Matthew – heh heh, “Fair and balanced”, should be 4e’s new tag line.

  71. To be honest, a lot of virtual ink has been used to both prop up and denounce 4E (and 3E for those who just love 4E that much). I’m running a 4E game and it’s fun and people are enjoying it. That’s the bottom line. It mostly comes down to how you play any RPG. I’ve played games that have chapters and chapters of info on game worlds and player character interaction and role-playing that were completely ignored… because we blew stuff up in the game and that’s why we played it. I’ve also run 4E since July and, while you have to keep in mind that our game sessions are only about 2.5 hours, we’ve spent entire sessions in combat, but also entire sessions doing some pretty good role-playing as well. Yes, there aren’t 50 pages dedicated to how to role-play in the 4E PHB. That’s not great for new gamers, I’ll admit it. But there’s nothing in the new game that stops people from RPing to their heart’s content. To be honest, it almost harkens back to the original D&D in the sense that D&D used to be some roleplaying overlayed over the fighting mechanics of Chainmail. It didn’t mean that you couldn’t have fun or run a good gamewith lots of roleplaying. It meant that the books were there for the mechanics since the rest is essentially up to the players and the GM, as they always are.

  72. Just read a good blog post, “First game of 4th Edition D&D” from Robertson Games, who does a lot of D&D session podcasts. His conclusion is “mixed, but worth improving rather than dismissing outright.” But the pros and cons are telling.

    – Combat takes too long
    – Marking adds complexity
    – Tactical minis focus harms the RP
    – Jarring game terminology hurts immersion

    – Get to design cards, terrain, maps, etc.
    – Tactical mini play is challenging
    – Enemies had various attack effects

    This is a great analysis and shows how you’ll like or not like 4e depending on where your values lie. If you are not particularly moved by the “fiddly bits” of tactical minis combat and power cards and all, you probably will find this a net negative. If you are, then you’ll want to get on board.

    For me personally, “It harms the immersion but hey, minis are fun” is very very far from a compelling game description. But I can see how casual and tactical gamers are drawn to it. And the “have lits of widgets to play around with” factor – I know people who really are drawn by that, and it certainly helps as a revenue model when you can sell high profit margin addons like battle mats, minis, tokens, power cards, etc.

    But in the end, since D&D isn’t even close to the only game in town any more – it has to really hit close to the mark to merit spending time house-ruling etc. If you prefer 3e, or Basic – play those! (Or better, Pathfinder.) Or one of the hundreds of other extant RPGs. Back in the 1970s-1980s, sure, D&D was the only meaningful game in town and it was mod that or do without (or play Rifts or GURPS with one of the two groups of scary people).

  73. I’m glad I found a place to vent. I really immersed myself in the D&D mythology developed over the past 25 years and I am really upset about it’s disappearance. Forget the rules, simplicity vs. depth argument, or whatever. I feel most betrayed by the complete destruction of the old stories and lore.

    They did away with so much of the richness and diversity in 3.x (even though I did like the rules better), yet at least there was a degree of continuity. In 4e, it’s almost all gone. what has been done to the Great Wheel? To the Realms? Why why why all the arbitrary changes?!!

    If you think it was done to “clean up some of the mess,” it could have been done with FAR LESS radical changes.

    Rules can be modified. I enjoy the complexity of the earlier editions, yes, probably because I like to admitedly powergame a bit. But rule changes I could live with…

    I stuck with D&D through all the editions mostly because they created a living, breathing world (or multiverse considering I’m still a huge Planescape fan), and now 80% in my estimation is destroyed. I became invested in that world and watched it grow well into 3 decades.

    Imagine if WotC got the rights one day to something like LOTR. At that point maybe Sauron will never have existed or they could change the fundamental nature of elves and call them…eladrin.

    To the 4e lovers, I don’t blame you, this hatred is obviously tailor made for many of us who grew up with the old editions.

    What a mess. Goodbye D&D, I’ll miss ya.

  74. Here are a collection of moto’s for 4E some of us have been working on, during our 4E campaign.

    – Making 3E cooler since 2008
    – 4E, because who really wants 30 years of history anyway.
    – 4e, because playing power rangers is cool.
    – Fair and Balanced… to a fault.
    – If at first you don’t succeed, you obviously haven’t “optimised” your character build.
    – 4E, now with 80% more chess
    – 4E, needless change for changes sake since 2008

    Not all of these are mine, but they all sum up how many of us seem to feel about this new edition of *cringe* D&D

  75. Just wanted to say that I have played a lot of 4e because that is what my group decided to do.

    It is boring. All characters seem the same. All have spells in one way or another. Enjoyed 3.5 with this group so I have to believe the rules and the chucking of “traditional” magic and roles are the reason why I don’t enjoy it anymore.

    I find myself falling asleep waiting for my turn.

    I’m done with 4e. Never playing it again.

  76. Reading the main article and all of the comments really is an enlightening thing. All the differing opinions talking about the pros and cons of 4E.

    I have not been playing DnD for 5 years let alone 30 like some people here. I am really a new comer to DnD in a lot of ways. I started with 3.5 when it was at the end of it’s cycle.

    I have played 4E, I still play 4E because that is what the people I hang out with play and yes I would have to agree that the enjoyment of the game really depends on the people you are with and things like that. That being said, I do not like 4E. I really would prefer 3.5 over 4.0. The game is just too homogenized. Like everyone is the same thing with a little different flavor to them.

    In combat everyone has a role to play in 4.0, but to me that makes no sense. Why can’t you have a party that some people are great in combat, but others are great for getting the group through trapped areas, or even keeping them out of combat. Why do you have to have everyone be balanced.

    I mean it makes no sense to me. Mage characters should be cut down in open combat. They rely on magic and intellect, not brawn to get by in life. Rogues attack the unprepared, and run when their luck turns south. Bards should talk their way out of fights and know how to use people against each other. There is nothing wrong with having “unbalanced” classes, because the balance was in the full aspect of the game not just combat.

    Making all of the characters combat oriented just makes them bland. Suddenly you are criticized if you are a rogue shotting from the shadows instead of being out there with everyone else. I mean it’s and RPG a Role Playing Game. What is the point to Roles… if they are all the same.

  77. I suggest playing the game first (as opposed to just reading the books) in order to have a truer opinion of the game. I was, as many, saddened at first by this ‘video game’ version of my favorite rpg,…right up until I played it.
    Is it perfect? Nope.
    Is it better than 3.5? Absolutely.
    It’s faster. The rules are cleaner and better written for combat (which, let’s face it, is a huge part of the game).
    There is much, much, much more strategy and tactical planning required for party survival and the game focuses upon teamwork more than it ever has in the past.
    Though perhaps a savvy marketing element, the visual element (using miniatures and gridded maps), fleshes out a level of accuracy and cohesion that has never been seen in previous versions.
    To people who say the game is “homogenized” and that all the characters are the same, I would suggest a thorough re-examination of every race and class and some substantial play time. The classes are all quite different, and – whoa – balanced!
    I don’t know about anyone else, but in older versions of the game it truly SUCKED waiting for a spell to return or waiting for hit points to recover. 4E makes these problems non-existent, but in a believable and playable way. In the end this means more play time and less down time. How anyone can oppose this idea is beyond me.
    The element of role-play has always and will always continue to be there. A solid DM will never have a problem in crafting a compelling adventure for players to participate in, no matter what the version of the game is.
    Thankfully this is a newer, fresher and much more welcome edition in my opinion.

  78. I should also add that I have played the game for 30 years, and my first gaming experience came in the form of an adventure in that infamous keep, somewhere along the borderlands I believe 😉

  79. I agree with most of what you said. I think 4e is the death of DnD. I didn’t happily go to DnD 3e, as I like some elements of 2e, but I felt DnD 3e streamlined so much, I was willing to move on. 4e changes the game so much, I cannot recognize DnD in it, other than the name, and I feel like I am reliving a video game on paper, rather than real RPG. If I want a video game, I will just well, play the video game like WoW, and redo it on paper…

    My future post-3e will most likely be Pathfinder, and then I’ll look at Castles and Crusades. I can at least use older game material and some great classics with both.

  80. A rallying cry from an RPG enthusiast for 20-some odd years:

    1. If there’s one thing that is NOT lost in any RPG, is the roleplaying element. If you think “fewer/simpler rules” is a bad thing, then you’ve missed the boat entirely. There were NO SKILLS in Basic D&D – this didn’t make the game unplayable, it made it better because you got to act it out. 4e does away with a lot of the fat that D&D had become known for.

    2. If you think there is no class-optimization in 4e, you have not played it. However, if you’re upset you can’t have a 4-class spellcasting, sword-wielding, 5 attacks per round juggernaut, you lost your way a long time ago. We will miss you…

    3. Vancian spellcasting had to go eventually – I liked it when I started playing (26 years ago now), but it has no place in a fantasy setting designed for new people to play.

    4. Speaking of new people, 4e seems to be designed around making it easy for new people to pick up and play. These people are the same people that will never post on a blog about how betrayed they feel about the new D&D edition. That’s because they’re mostly girls that are new to the game. I think this is a good thing.

    5. Will 4e impress everyone? Of course not. But I certainly didn’t frequent websites/blogs to snarl at 3e and 3.5e when it didn’t impress me – probably the most unwieldy D&D IMO. When everyone got 5 attacks per round a single battle could have pretty much lasted an entire night (or was over in one round because the DM couldn’t possibly come up with something powerful enough to beat the PCs…)

    6. Do I like 4e? It’s alright, but the more I’ve played the more it’s grown on me. The DDI Character Builder? I haven’t made characters this fast since original D&D. iplay4e? I can now hand out simple digital character sheets to all of my PCs.

    7. I am an avid gamer, from D&D, to Robotech/TMNT/Rifts, to Battletech, and now back to D&D. And my gaming group consists of 2 girls and 2 guys (only the second time I’ve seen a girl pick up a set of dice to play).

    I say well done.

    • I though we were done with this, but i suppose it would be nice to show the counter arguments to the previous post. So here i am Answering your points.

      1. 4E modules possess not even the rudiment of roleplaying (look at Dungeon Magazine). The problem here is that the world that is being presented is not internally consistent (due to disassociated rules). Its not even internal logical to any particular meta-fictional reality. This means most roleplaying is going to be strained as people just go through the motions of roleplaying.

      2. Thats true. The flip side of the coin (as some may call it, the less extreme side of the coin) is that you can no longer play statistically interesting characters (wheres my trick archer). Players play combat roles. I wanted to play a wizard, but got stuck with instead playing a Arcane Controller & was told this was a wizard (which incidentally handles like arse).

      3. Vancian spellcasting had to go? so does the sun, as it burns out the earth. Change doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, but at least make it an improvement on what came before. I’ve played a lot of different games, but in the end this new powers system does not stand up to close logical scrutiny. Everything just feels muddled now.

      4. Sure this game is simple to be picked up… it will also be dropped just as quickly by these new players when some new shinnier game comes along. this is also why they won’t post on Blogs, they don’t really care, they are what my FLGS refers to as “trendies.” With trendies they play what ever is new & then ditch it a month later. But don’t worry, its not like WotC ditched 40% of your previous core demographic to chase these trendies… oh wait, they did exactly that.

      5. 3.5 was smooth and intuitive. It only got stupid when GM’s let it get stupid. When GM’s let players run rampant. As for everyone having 5 attacks per round, that sounds a little like a HUGE overexaggeration. i played everything from Clerics to Rogues & would be pushing it to get 2 attacks a round.

      6. Do I like 4e? It’s alright, but the more I’ve played the less i like. The DDI Character Builder is a good concept, but a crappy follow through (I refuse to pay to use something twice, especially when i can make characters by hand). I haven’t made characters this fast since original D&D, then again the only piece of creativity i need on my character sheet is inventing a character name (everything else is overly mechanical mathematics).

      7. I am an avid gamer, from D&D, to Mutants and Masterminds, TMNT: after the bomb (the best TMNT setting), Spirit of the Century, to Hackmaster, and now back to D&D. not that this has anything to do with the main point.

      I’ve tried to keep emotion out of my answers, but some of the points made were pretty silly & one sided. I can see both sides of the argument because i thought that 4E was the second coming of Jesus (the mexican baseball player, not that other guy) as well. As time went by (a couple of sessions) i found that the game just didn’t feel like roleplaying at all, it felt more like playing a table top wargame, with occasional player monlogues.


  81. Fun thing about reading this “year in comments” is knowing that all anyone has proven with the edition wars is that you get what you want out of a game. I’ve been running two regular 4E games for the last year now, and I have found that the only meaningful difference between the 4E games and my prior edition campaigns is minis combat is a bit more fun and less laborious. Beyond that, it remains as fun and entertaining as always. For the record, I also play Castles & Crusades, and intend to pick up and run Pathfinder as well. I have run weekly campaigns for 28 years now and have run and played all prior editions of D&D and numerous other RPGs. I see no contraditions or need for exclusivity here….just different flavors of role playing entertainment. I’ve been gaming consistently since 1980, and the secret to my enjoyment of the hobby is letting go the pathos and angst of playing favorites and just enjoying the game. And yes, I’ve been told before by others that 4E doesn’t “let them” enjoy the game. Doesn’t change a thing I have said; if it doesn’t work for you, that’s your issue; I know for a fact that your experience does not translate in to mine, and vice versa.

  82. First, a little about my own gaming experience:

    I’ve been gaming regularly since ’89, right about the time that 2E was hitting the stores. However, I was exposed to the Basic red box edition of DnD several years earlier. Since then, I’ve played a variety of games from Travellers to Masterbook to WEG d6 Star Wars to today’s incarnations of Star Wars and 3E DnD. Also, just before LUG hit everyone with there Star Trek system, a bunch of my friends and I had come up with own Star Trek system that worked for us.

    Second, as for my thoughts on 4E…
    I see many people mentioning that 4E is more combat oriented. Let’s be honest…unless a game is strictly skills-based, any rules for an RPG that is class and level based is going to be combat oriented. DnD has it’s roots in miniatures combat simulations. OK, so 4E is a more tactically oriented combat system that requires miniatures and a battlemat. Guess what, DnD went that direction with the move from 2E to 3E. Did anyone really expect it to return to the more story oriented one minute combat round? The game moved things one step further along the tactical combat track.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of 4E, but then again, I’ve never been completely sold on 3E either. I want combats that are less tactically oriented and more fluid. That just doesn’t exist with either edition.

    As for the magic set-up, ok, no more vancian magic. I’m a bit attached to that format, but then I’ve played with it from the start of my gaming experience. I like the premise that Jim Butcher set up in his Dresden Files series and what the Shadowrun game attempts – it’s not about “forgetting” your spells, it’s about magic causing a physical drain on the body.

    All in all, 4E, at least from my perspective, promotes a style of play that doesn’t suit what I’m looking for. Does that make it bad? No, it’s just not for me.

  83. I guess I will counter-riposte then! 🙂

    1. Modules? I hesitate to think you’ve even tried to play some of the modules. Many of them have an RP element to them and leave much room for ad lib and creativity. I’m not sure what you mean by disassociated rules – there are rules to roleplaying? There are some good basic non-combat skill foundations that can be utilized many different ways. And consistency? In not exactly sure what you mean here either – a well-played dnd session is as consistent as the GM makes it and that is true of any version of dnd.

    2. The optimization in 4e is far more statistically creative than you mention here. Prestige-multiclass abberations aside, you can create almost any kind of character that you could make in other versions. A wizard’s path to control can be done in many different paths – area damage (traditional invokers), battlefield movement (old teleport mages), etc. Limiting your synopsis to just “control” is rather short-sighted.

    3. Vancian spellcasting was horribly balanced and a pain to manage as a DM. And while it is exciting to circumvent entire portions of any adventure, it’s not as fun for other pcs and DMs.

    4. Your stats here are entirely subjective – it’s been a year now and these “trendies” are still having a blast playing. Your mileage may vary, but to assume 40% of oldies dropped the game entirely (or even that this was a bad omen) are again subjective.

    5. I’m happy you found it smooth – my argument was that it certainly required much more effort in part for the DM. I agree I over-exaggerated the 5 attacks per round – how many did fighter-monks get at level 15-20 anyhow?

    6. All versions of dnd have had overly-complicated mathematics (whether it was tables, thac0, etc.). What 4e does is remove some of the specifics (profession: fishing?) and gives the player more flexibility instead of worrying about whether to take a background-specific skill or a combat-affecting skill.

    I feel the same with some of your arguments – but I guess an argument without two sides doesn’t really leave room for discussion 🙂

    I believe the combat does feel like a tactical tabletop game, but the rp sessions have never felt that way (not much different than any other version)

  84. So I didn’t read the mountain of comments that others left, but you realize all of those you thinks you said were WoW rip offs were from other things right? Also the “builds” are just suggested level templates they had those in 3e, I don’t see anything like Talent trees in 4e (and even if I did, it wouldn’t be bad nor from WoW) and magic items being able to return to be broken down for components is A. not original to WoW B. has been done in DnD and C. not as horrible as you seem to think it is…

    I’m not saying I’m 100% pro 4e, I like 2e, 3e, and 4e all for different reasons, but people need to be a little realistic about what they are complaining about.

  85. 1. The WoW comparison is one of 19 paragraphs in the article

    2. Sure, WoW didn’t do anything truly original, but bringing that many things together in one place goes past “coincidence, you know some D&D product somewhere had that once” to “Hey, for some reason all these things that came together are the same things that came together in WoW….”

  86. Sorry I keep coming at this from such a different angle, but I want to know if anyone is as upset as I am about a major part of the game that has changed.

    I can’t imagine that some of the seemingly arbitrary changes to the game that have nothing to do with combat have been so drastically changed.

    Hopefully someone can explain why the following changes have occured:

    1. Why drop 4 out of 9 alignments?

    2. Why dismantle the organization of the planes and all 30 years of its fluid and well developed lore (though admittedly sometimes dijoint).

    3. Why butcher its most popular world (FR) and completely drop one of its longest running (Greyhawk).

    I just bought the new MM2 and have found such arbitrary changes as chromatic dragons being “unaligned”. I almost feel like history has been completely rewritten. It’s sad really.

  87. I can answer this one. Its what happens when you take something of limited appeal & the redesign it for the mass market. Can’t have every day people feeling left out… even though they wont continue to pay for something like D&D

    1. Because people are stupid. Both the people who “Played Alignments” under 3.5 & the people who designed 4E & didn’t get that you need to design bad guys properly.

    2. Drop the chrisitian overtones and religious background… so we don’t offend some religious people, now that D&D is being mass marketed.

    3. Greyhawk cannot work under 4E because it was based completely around the Vancian Spellcasting System, Greyhawk fans just wouldn’t stand for it. FR’s on the other hand is full of obsessive fans… you win them over & you will have a 4E fan base for life.

    I’ve read the MM2 for 4E & its full of a lot of things i wouldn’t have done. The Dragons are only the tip of the crap iceburg.

  88. 1. Why drop 4 out of 9 alignments?
    Because there’s no real difference between Neutral and Chaotic. You either believed in the Laws, or you don’t. Simplify the alignments and you create much less confusion for new players.

    2. Well, the Planes were the first thing I took out in every session I played – usually designed my own mythos based on the world I created. Nothing stopping you from keeping the Planes in, of course, or houseruling them in. Again, the aim is for newer players to be able to pick up the game quickly and understand it.

    3. I would agree with Matthew on this one.

    4. If you really want to play a Gold Dragon as “good”, then do so. D&D has always, and remains, completely malleable. This is not M:TG where the rules-lawyers would berate you for changing the text on a card.

  89. I appreciate your response brewsky and it is well thought out. I just don’t believe in the “make it that way” philosophy. So much, from novels to published adventures and accessories all revolve around the core rules.

    If so much of this core changes for relatively arbitrary reasons, the developed history just becomes useless.

    Try playing this “game” with other worlds (like LOTR). The Balrog was actually good, hobbits were taller than the average human. Uruk-Hai were orcs with giant bunny ears…

    Do they care so little for consumers that have followed them for 20+ years?

    I have to say, I have no problem with the previous edition changes. I got used to the rules and found that I liked each new set better, but none have thrown out what came in the past so completely as 4e.

    Also, the is a HUGE difference between how you can play a NG or CG character. Conan doesn’t strike me as just “good.”

  90. I’m about to start GMing a 4E game. It’s my first GM experience, but I played 2E and 3.x. I can assure you one thing, I will take what I like, and dump/modify the rest. There is no way I’m going to let my gaming be ruled absolutely and blindly by what’s written in a book. Of course, I can’t publish it due to the lack of openness.

    I’m making a big assumption, based on no evidence empirical or otherwise, which is mere speculation or a”hunch”, but it feels like the radical move (other than the attempt to streamline) is coming from something entirely outside the scope of the game itself, and more likely due to corporate politics.

    That is how I feel, I’m not stating it as fact.

  91. @Carlos.

    You will have trouble taking what you like and dropping the rest, because unlike previous editions, 4E is trully intergrated, with every aspect of the game playing of another aspect, which plays on another etc etc adnuseum.

    It can be done, but its not easy & rarely pretty. We tried it & realised we had basically started to play 3.5 again. LOL.

    As for alot of the game design being based on coporate stratergy rather then solid game design, i would have to agree. They have decided to go with MMO style marketing, which is not necessarily the right way to procced.


  92. I think a good compromise would have been a split, similar to the really old D&D vs. AD&D split. One set of rules could have supported, or possibly updated, the 3.5 ruleset (what I would call AD&D) and 4e could just be D&D to rope in newbies/MMO crowd.

    I know they have argued in the past that splitting their product causes them to compete against themselves (I once read that this is why the old 2e worlds were consolidated to just a few). However, I think that could easily be overcome…both sets could be included within the same product, appealing to both types of fans.

    I know the good people over at Paizo have been running something similar in their Pathfinder game. When they had control of Dungeon Magazine, I think they produced the best adventures since the magazine’s creation, so I may give that a try. It’s not Realms/Greyhawk/Planescape though, so I will certainly never be 100% happy.

  93. Interesting how everyone at the start of this thread hates 4e. Towards the end of it, the balance has shifted to the majority in favour of 4e.

    I’m not surprised. 4e does require a totally different mindset and I’d agree that it’s the biggest change to D&D so far. That’s maybe a step too far for some.

    For me, I’m quite glad. A lot has been mentioned about 4e being balanced and streamlined as if that’s a bad thing. I’ve been running 3.5e (and in fact still am finishing off a Kalamar campaign) for years. Every time that the party approaches level 10 the game system starts to implode. In my current game (level 13), my once epic campaign has been reduced to a slapstick cartoon.

    So you might say that as DM I could restrain the PC’s. Yes, I could but I don’t want to spend my precious free time inventing new rules to nirf the party or to patch up the large number of 3.5 rules that are totally broken (Touch AC, the skill system, save DC’s, and so on).

    4e isn’t perfect. Combats last way too long – the only saving grace is that you get to do a lot in each one so they are fun. Also the two scenarios I’ve played so far – Keep on the Shadowfell and Thunderspire Mountain – both suck big time. They are a missed opportunity to showcase what 4e could do – yes, there are the combats but more roleplaying opportunities would be great.

  94. Shakes head. I my friend do not agree with your statement. I don’t think that this page is getting more pro-4E. What i think is happening is a real life version of that old chesnut “The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is disinterest.”

    3.5 players have moved on, as the white hot burning geek rage has turned into luke warm warm geek disinterst for 4E.

    Alot of 3.5 players have investigated there own disinterest in 4E & we are perfectly happy with 4E players enjoying there own game. Because unlike many 4E players we don’t demand that everyone love our system. We don’t yell “you hate change” or “you just don’t get it.”

    I personally have no interest in 4E. to me personally 4E is the one thing worse then a buggy system. Its tepid, uninspired, middle of the line, designed my committe tripe.

    When i say i am disinterested in 4E, what i mean to say is that i have no interest in a poorly written system which balances a house of cards on a pile of disassociated mechanics & pretends to have a working exception based mechanics.

    Sure 3.5 was far from perfect & it got worse when DM’s didn’t stop players from mini-maxing & playing the system rather then the game, but at least with 3.5 there was actually a place for “the player”.

    Alot of 4E i wonder if this was meant to be played by humans at all, or if this is the system we teach to computers, who eventually turn into skynet and destroy us all. because it has the finesse of skynet (oh, it moved & its not one off us… better kill it to death).

    To be honest, if this game came out with any other name then D&D it would have been heaped with scorn & derision for the two days it existed before falling into the pit of badly designed games, never to be heard from again. This game continues to exist based only on name recognition & brand loyalty.

  95. Guess we’ll agree to disagree then. I just read through the whole thread and it is a fact that while almost 100% of those at the top of the page think 4e is awful, that figure is more like 60/40 near the bottom.

    Yes, some are disinterested but I think that others have actually grown to like it.

    Hardly scientific I know but…

    Playing 4e and running 3.5e at the same time has certainly been interesting. The combinations available to the 4e player are amazing, the game is more tactical and you know where you stand with the rules. I also like that as a player you are not told that you cannot do stuff or that something has no effect. With 3.5e I am constantly forced to ban stuff just to make the game playable. Alternatively, the scenario just bans stuff anyway (look at any high level 3.5e scenario). As for the rules themselves, they are so open to mis-interpretation that it beggars belief. Yes, that’s where a DM steps in to make a ruling but it does start to get tedious when you spend most of your time arguing about rules or making rulings.

    4e is actually written in such a way as to prevent a rule from being misinterpreted.

  96. don’t mistake lack of hatred from enjoyment. I think you may find taht quite a few of the people are saying things more akin to “I’ve played this 4E & its not for me… though it does have an interesting mechanic or two.”

    If you were constantly being called to ban things its probably because your players wanted to play the system rather then the game. If this is the case then 4E is for you. Its all about playing the system.

    4E is really for people who want to game, but don’t really want to put in any effort. They want to GM, but that would take up some level of time & maybe some sort of skill.

    Comparred to any other rpg on the market today, 4E is the hamburger helper of RPG’s. Its lazy, concieted & generally dull.

    Advocates of the game keep on saying things like: Its fast, its tactical, its impossible to misinterpret rules. I would have to agree with you on all these things. But this streamlining is has also made the game dull, unimaginative, & down right silly (in that it emulate Eragon more then anything sensible).

    I bleieve in letting people enjoy the game they enjoy, but i can also tell the difference between good mechanical design and bad. 4E is full of poor design & many of them were put in on purpose as a way to sell more books in the future.


  97. Well, I’d say most of the recent traffic on 4e has been more along the lines of people saying “We tried it for a year, but are giving it up…”

  98. I would agree. Outside of Wizspace (which is full of fanatics on both sides of the fence) the love for 4E is dropping alot. Some people are trying Pathfinder but i found its not really my speed. I prefer 3.5 for my fantasy needs, Eclipse Phase for my tanshumanism needs, Spirit of the Century for my indi pulp fiction & a plethora of other games to fill niche appeal spots.

  99. Just a minor clarification, Castles & Crusades is not actually a 1e derivative. It’s in fact a d20 product (the mostly openly licensed core system on which 3.x is based). While it has the “feel” of AD&D era oldschool gaming, and none of the number-crunch of 3.x, it’s actually running more modern mechanics.

    • Actually, C&C is not a d20 product. No where on it will you find the d20 logo, and the licensing part is completely separate from d20. I think of it as 1st Ed crossed with 3E. I like the modularity of it. It’s a simple game at it’s core, but it’s quite easy to tweak the rules and add rules to get the level of complexity that you want.

  100. “I view players of “1e derivative” products like Castles & Crusades and OSRIC with pity” – cough – tosser – cough. I’ve ran and played every edition of D&D since it first came out. My first foray as a DM came in 1976, and although I have to agree on the “not D&D-ness” of 4e. Your remark of pity for C&C/Osric players really is unfair. C&C fills a void for people who prefer the simplicty of some of the Core “D20” mechanics, but enjoy the retro feel/look of AD&D. OSRIC is a great addition to the retro-clone field, hes done a lot of sterling work. It was a very good review marred by a totally unreasonable remark.

    • Yeah, well, YMMV of course. I played a session of C&C and my general response was “Oh, right, this is what it was like back when my D&D character couldn’t do anything.” I mean, I like that C&C at least tried to update some of the mechanics, it’s better than the true retroclones that totally capture the wonkiness, but it was just – boring. “Yay I’m a second level cleric and I can cast one spell a day, light!” I so do not hearken back to that. Rerolling a character about every other game session, demihuman level limits, that kind of thing; IMO it’s one of the good parts of the evolution of D&D that we’ve left all that behind.

      I like some things about old school play and the principles – “rulings, not rules,” sandboxing, etc – but the actual old rules are just crufty as hell.

      It’s fine that you like them – in auto hobbies there are people who work on super old cars and others that work on their sports cars. But I’m not the old car type. I mentioned it here to explain that I’m not just a grumpy grognard who pines for the past and rejects 4e because it’s not “old” or whatever. I looked forward to 3e and liked it, was kinda surprised by 3.5e but didn’t hate it, and was looking forward to 4e but it sucked (and the WotC bungling that way foreshadowed it, too).

      • ” I played a session of C&C and my general response was “Oh, right, this is what it was like back when my D&D character couldn’t do anything.” ”

        Well, the beauty of C&C over a game like 3E, is that you [i]can[/i] do what you want. In 3E, if you don’t have the feat / skill, you simply can’t do something. In a game like C&C, you can [i]attempt[/i] to do anything. Just say it, and the GM can assign a difficulty to it. It’s a fast resolution for anything you can think of.

        I agree with your review overall. I liked 3E and played it a lot. But i find simpler games like C&C can move along much more quickly (particularly in combat). I think my ideal system is somewhere in between C&C and 3E.

  101. I would have to agree with you that i personally don’t dislike 4E because i’m a crusty old grognard who doesn’t like 4E because its not old or because i prefer 3.5. I dislike 4E because it is not good. It was pitched as a narrativist game up until the second it was released & then it became obvious that it was an uninspired gamist game.

    4E fails to hit any of the goals i set for my personal standard of roleplaying, in fact the goals that 4E has, puts them in direct conflict with the goals i want to achieve.

    In this way its funny that you mentioned a car based analogue because i was using one to describe the entire edition war just the other day.


    A group of race car fans are sitting around discussing there mutal love of race cars when someone comes along & loudly declares “TANKS ARE BETTER THEN RACE CARS!”

    The race car fans look at him quizzically & then tries to explain that they really do prefer race cars to tanks.

    “Tanks could totally blow up a race car & there nothing a race car could do about it!” the tank enthusist declared loudly, ignoring the race car fans intelligent observation.

    To counter this the race car fans tried to explain that while a tank was armoured & could blow up a race car, they were fans of race cars because they were used in racing & thats what they were actually fans of.


    The morale of this story is not that a tank is better then a race car, but that each is good at there own thing (regardless of how stupid you may think that thing is). You are allowed to hate tanks because they aren’t race cars, just as i dislike 4E because it fails to do the things i want it to do.

  102. “Tieflings are emo…horns…hurr hurr hurr…”
    “You said horn! ahahahah…”
    Yeah, they’re kewl! Dragons are kewl too…”
    “Dragonpeople for my bunghole…bungholio…”
    “And everyone should get spells, all the time, that’d be awesome. And heal without magic and crap.”
    “Ahahahahaha….and we can sell plastic and online subscription and everything is core so they buy everything and everything and olio!”
    “Yeah, scam the customer, screw the decades of old fluff, we can make better fluff…”
    “for my holio!”
    “like Eberron, that was kewl! hurr hurr hurr….let’s make FR into Eberron, that sucked, we know better…hurr hurr hurr…”
    “Kewl!…olio….brand management rules! We’re good at this, we’re copying WOW and emo! For my bunghole! emolio!”

  103. 4e has been out for quite some time now. When it released, I was considerably less skeptical of whether it would ‘destroy D&D’ than some I knew, though admittedly curious as to just what kind of reinventions of the wheel I’d see this time around.

    Ancillary to my point, I’m an old-hat gamer like a fair few posting here seem to be. Started with original D&D as a wee lad, moved on to 1e as soon as we realized it existed, then to 2e ’cause that’s all we could find stuff for (we actually wanted more 1e stuff and wound up stuck in 2e more as an initial fluke of availability combined with being 12-14 year olds operating on allowance budgets).

    I’ve got nothing bad to say about OD&D. 1e really made us go “WOW!” for how developed and sophisticated (Advanced indeed!) things got compared to the old “red-book, blue-book, green-book, gold” way of things, and 2e really didn’t seem to push that envelope until much, much later in its run.

    Then along came 3e. I hated the idea of 3e from the first game I played of it, and grew to hate it even more with every successive session.

    By then, I was well into college (still avidly gaming 2e with the small but loyal nutjobs like me, whenever I could find them) and hated 3e for two reasons, neither of which being because its treatment of settings sucked or because it wasn’t any good as a system.

    It changed the players. Almost overnight, people began cropping up that “wanted to play D&D”, but the D&D they wanted to play wasn’t the D&D I’d spent decades playing.

    It was this other fiasco that, while a-ok as a system and extremely customizable (which I rather did favor as a superior meshing of the admittedly clunky 2e attempts), was turning the available players for D&D gaming into number alchemists armed with mechanical pencils and obsessions with perfect arrangements of feats, classes and PRC’s.

    On the flipside, I rather liked the 3e system the more I played with it, but as my liking for the system grew, my revulsion at the increasing body of gamers also grew.

    Now, one could easily say “That’s simply a matter of style incompatibility; you were used to relying heavily on roleplay and non-mechanical solutions to gameplay caveats” and they’d be technically correct., as that’s really the synopsis of it.

    However, it changed after a few years. The first couple of years saw a lot of shallow comers join the D&D gamer pool. People with little to no interest in story, with even less interest in thinking and to whom notions such as studying things (such as history) for hours just to get a better grasp on how ‘things in a medieval time might’ve been like’ were totally alien.

    I saw DM’s by the scores assembling in newly revitalized (and sometimes simply outright new) game/book/hobby stores with their gaming groups, and this would have pleased me immensely if many of them in those initial years were even remotely friendly, or interested in anything but seeing how silly they could be in taking over Forgotten Realms with level 218 characters.

    Did they have fun? Sure, prolly. Do I begrudge them their having fun with the total crap they, in my opinion, were doing? No, not really.

    It just made being an old-hat gamer a differently-lonely experience, ’cause where it’d previously been common to be the only D&D player in a room of 50 people, I was rather abruptly the only D&D player that still subscribed to notions of lovingly crafting anything.

    And so time passed. The orgiastic masses thinned out, some realized a love for storytelling and grew into being ‘my’ type of gamer, and overall, things got a lot ‘better’ in terms of the playerbase maturing and expanding.

    There were still plenty of the mental mutants obsessing eternally over their numerical alchemies on character sheets, but for me to call the heydays of 3e (and even 3.5 despite it’s late appearance) anything short of a renaissance of roleplaying interest would be false.

    And I speak purely anecdotaly; I was able to find gamers like me with increasing ease, which made me far more forgiving of WotC seeming to pander to the mechanics jockeys.

    And so more time passes. 4e is announced, sampler material comes out, and again I felt that old dread, only with a new twist.

    I shoved it off to one side, however, as fear of change or difference is tacky, and I wasn’t going to guide my actions by it. So, I didn’t.

    4e released, I bought the core books, got them home, poured over them…and if cringing were audible, I’d have deafened my neighborhood.

    I didn’t like it. At all. Prior to playing it, it appeared to be that everything not immediately relevant to thing-killing had been excised, and only absolutely mandatory nods to anything not immediately relevant to thing-killing were even included.

    I didn’t like where that was pointing, ’cause hey, people tend to go (and think) in the most readily available direction, and from the get-go, I saw where 4e was going to be pointing players.

    I summed it up in one forum rant by saying “4e does not require you to have human intelligence. In fact, possession of human intelligence and creativity will be detrimental to your 4e experience, which appears as though it could be summed up in a three-part cycle sans any unnecessary descriptions; make character, hit things, if win proceed to next thing to hit, if lose proceed to ‘make character’ phase.”

    However, I lampshaded my misgivings as grognard-grade paranoia. I told myself that, surely, 4e would not have to go that route. Some would, sure, but it was extracting from an already refined and developed body of tabletop D&D gamers, not from a void like 3e had been.

    So, now it’s some years later. I have played 4e with sufficient frequency to be well enabled and realized in my reasons for saying that I absolutely abhor this game.

    I hate it. I hate it with fire, I hate it with acid, I hate it with passion and verve and many, many verbs.

    Combat is streamlined. Yes, that’s very nice for it. However, if I wanted to play Warhammer and be tied at the hip to a bushel basket of minis and 50 grid mats…well, I would be.

    The ruleset and system? Yes, it’s very sleek and elegant in rendering every single PC pretty much locked into either a uninspiring clone-stereotype or a hybrid thereof.

    But none of that really actually matters, as there’s really no point in playing this at all. The best advice I’ve seen anyone given (echoed above on this very comments list, no less) has been to ‘Fix it to be how you want it to be’.

    I did, some months back. I fixed it by giving all my 4e books away to this teenager in the gaming store I routinely hang out in.

    I hated to feel like I was perpetuating the spread of this prettily-bound and premium-printed disease of the mind, but the fellow seemed to be about as intelligent as a fencepost anyway, so what harm could it do?

    It seemed fitting, in fact.

    Do I hate it because of WotC’s slapstick marketing ploys? No. WotC is out to make money and so it comes as no surprise that they, like every other company, will go through hyper-greedy phases.

    Do I hate it because I’m just a lame ol’ grognard that can’t adapt to the iPod era of gaming? Nerp. Big, big nerp, in fact.

    Do I hate it because it demonstrates in a single stroke that WotC learned nothing from TSR’s failures and seems to have become obsessed with repeating them? Yeah, in part; way to go on pulling a Dragonlance on FR by the way, WotC. Real brainiac move there, guys. Hope you weren’t, y’know, paying the marketing and development folks that came up with that maneuver.

    Do I hate it because it’s repelled most everyone that could even loosely be lumped into the description of ‘my type of gamer’ while, at the same time, fostering and catering to the most hideous-to-socialize-with lot of idiots I’ve ever had the displeasure of breathing the same air as?

    Oh yes.

    Now, I get around to conventions pretty frequently. Now that I’m all growed up and have enough disposable income to just about do whatever I damn well please with my life, and this frequently finds me rubbing shoulders with a very wide-spread and diverse body of people.

    Gamers, in this case. D&D gamers, to be specific as to the gamers I speak of.

    Here’s what I see more and more of every time I so much as go to my local gaming store, let alone to a D&D table at gaming cons.

    Idiot DM running a game out of a module book and, about half the observable time, rendering him (typically not her)self as being replaceable by said book.

    Also, 3-6 players trying to ignore anything resembling fluff to get to ‘the good parts’ of killing shit and getting the xp.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    4e didn’t invent this; it isn’t new. However, 4e has not merely enthroned it, but forcibly ejected even the illusion that it was going to cater to any other style of gaming.

    So, here we are, in the era of DM’s that frequently don’t know how to DM without a campaign module (at all. No exaggeration) and players that don’t even try to diversify their interests and, instead, are simply encouraged to buy over $1000 worth of books and twice that in miniatures so they can partake of the experience of having some (very typically) dude read to them out of a book and roll dice with them.

    Thinking? Optional. Entirely optional. I’ve been proving it here and there for the past couple of years by deliberately ‘sabotaging’ my own games and throwing exactly nothing out there that wasn’t in a campaign module, just to -observe- the reactions.

    With my long-standing veteran group? They won’t have any of that. They want story, they want intrigue, they want intelligent dialogue with NPC’s and situations that don’t always invariably hinge on combat.

    The new crop of gamers? Oh, they love it. All they have to do is declare their actions, fan out their cards during their tap phase and make sure they have enough land in play to–o’wait, was I talking about M:TG or D&D?

    It’s gotten so hard to tell anymore. Speaking of Magic, I’ve also been an avid player of M:TG since it came out. It’s great for what it is; there is no story that you need to worry about, and there is no over-complexity of mechanics.

    You build a deck and from there, it’s a sophisticated game of chess utilizing fantasy-themed mechanics. It’s a very intelligent game that I enjoy a great deal.

    What I do not enjoy is having my D&D games arbitrarily forced into being M:TG with dice and character sheets. -I-, for one, do not play D&D for the M;TG experience.

    Neither do I play it for the WoW experience.

    So, in conclusion…I hate D&D. It succeeds at many things, but tragically, none of them are at being a worthy successor to the D&D name or genre.

    And as for all you 4e lovers posting here/yet to post here…seriously, ditch 4e and play Magic.

    Everything you like about 4e is done better in M;TG. Way better. Everything is combat, it’s all immensely tactical, it’s all very, very economical in terms of keeping the ‘fluff’ minimized to an occasional short paragraph of descriptive text on a card and, beyond that, you get raw combat.

    I’m dead serious; if you like 4e, you’d love M:TG, and chances are, you’d have -way- more fun with it, ’cause everything you 4e-lovers declare yourselves as loving about 4e isn’t new either.

    WotC’s been providing that streamlined experience for quite some time in M:TG. You can even sate some serious completionist urges; collectible card games are great for that.

    Just, please, get the hell out of my D&D pool. You’re probably not stupid people, but quit pretending you’re interested in stories or intricate plots or anything more creatively demanding than is called for by short paragraphs of strictly-unnecessary fluff.

    You can play M:TG without ever reading /any/ of the fluff. But there’s fluff if you want to read it, and quite a few novels too!

    So really, think about it. You’re just wasting your time with 4e. I mean, c’mon, you need pencils and books and stuff for 4e.

    Why not streamline your game even further and just wrap stories around your turns in M:TG, for that matter? It’s the same advice some of you have given we ‘grognards’ in the form of ‘just change it to be how you want it’ or the oh so loveable ‘Go back to playing 3.5 if you love it so much!’ crap.

    So, there you have it. The final conclusion of someone that tried (really hard) to get into and like 4e.

    Suck on it.


  104. I’m loving your bitter, bitter tears smooth. Keep them coming.

  105. “I mean it makes no sense to me. Mage characters should be cut down in open combat. They rely on magic and intellect, not brawn to get by in life. Rogues attack the unprepared, and run when their luck turns south. Bards should talk their way out of fights and know how to use people against each other. There is nothing wrong with having “unbalanced” classes, because the balance was in the full aspect of the game not just combat.”

    Well I guess a simpleton like yourself refuse to realize is that in d&d combat also plays a large part in the game. Each party member in the group need to at least hold his salt in combat since they’re adventuring in a world full of deadly monsters and foes.

  106. @Jake: actually, you need to get out of my D&D pool, please. Guys like you do not know how to let go, relax, and enjoy the game. I’d dissect your post, but it’s easier to just let you know every moment of your analysis and take is utterly wrong…even for you, I would argue; your own little narrowly defined experiences inthis hobby DO NOT CONSTITUTE THE WHOLE OF THE HOBBY. Please. My own experience with 4E and every other iteration of D&D is so far removed from what your describing I can’t even relate to whatever reality you’re dwelling in. And I’m only being snppy here because your turgid little post was effectively insulting me and anyone else who doesn’t try to experience/view the game in the same shallow, unpleasant manner you have chosen to.

  107. @camazotz: Even though i don’t agree with everything that Jake said or the intensity that he said it with, i do agree with the general sentement.

    I personally don’t hate 4E, because the oppposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is disinterest. I tried 4E & i found it wasn’t for me, end of story. I packed up the 4E books and moved on with my life.

    There are many games i do enjoy, why would i agonise over the one i do not? I found that 4E was short on fluff, repeditive in both combat and story & had the depth of a kiddy wadding pool… As far as i’m concerned 4E is “Power Rangers” of the RPG world.

    So i kept my 3.5 books & even started snapping up other 3.5 books, while i continued to play other games that struck my fancy: Mutants and Masterminds, Savage Worlds, Spirit of the Century & Eclipse Phase all grace my book shelf, because i personally found them to be compelling & in the end thats the mark of a good RPG in my books… Is it compelling and fun, if not stop playing.

    If you are enjoying the game go right ahead & continue to enjoy it, but some of us can see it for what it is: Something we aren’t enjoying.


  108. I think 4E does a good job satisfying the target group it was designed for.

    ¨Play a dragonborn if you want . . .
    ✦ to look like a dragon.¨

    ehh, ok.

    I´m not in that group and this by itself doesn´t bother me. What I don´t like is they slap the ¨Dungeons and Dragons¨ label on this new game. I stress ¨new game ¨

    But it´s not really suprising or important. D&D has a 25 year history of good stuff to explore and play before the corporate greed got a hold of it and started milking the label.

    • Yes, but it was inevitable that WotC would become a corporate power house, that cares more for money then producing a decent product. It started to happen near the end of the 3.5 run.

      As for 4E catering to a different sort of player then true D&D did, i would also have to agree. As i said to a friend of mine: 3.5 is to 4E as Roast Turkey with all the trimming is to Roast Tof-urkey.

      Why would some one want to eat Roast Tof-urkey in a universe that has roast turkey in it? Oh because it has all these health benefits & its better for you. In fact health nuts can sit there for hours and point out the “improvements” of Roast Tof-urkey over turkey
      – It looks like Roast Turkey (kind of, if you squint at it, even though its a complete fiction)
      – It has no bones so it has more meat (co-opting a word you like “meat” to represent something you don’t like “Tof-urkey”)
      – Its just generally better for you (Much like 4E’s claim to speed)

      However if like me you love Roast turkey for its flavour & texture, then none of these “improvements” make a bit of difference if the main feature of flavour and texture fall short.

      I liked the flavour and texture of 3.5. 4E lacks for a similar sort of flavour to what 3.5 had. I don’t like the flavour or the texture of 4E. If you do, thats fine, just don’t invite me around for thanks-giving.

  109. I have always played 3.5 ed, it was where I joined D&D from. I also play 4e, with a different group, and I enjoy it too.
    But they are in no way the same game.
    I’ll always prefer 3.5 for its realism, but 4e is more accessable to my friends and people new to the game – simpler mechanics. There are several of my friends that I play 4e with who I’ve introduced to 3.5, and they’ve enjoyed it too, sometimes more so than 4e.
    4e is more accessable and is increasing the numbers of players in my age group (therefore my friends), but once they’ve learnt it I show them something better and more intelligently played. More people to play with now.

  110. @Angelo Don’t expect it to last. While i agree that 4E got dumbed down to the point where any idiot can play, the lack of complexity that kept away the trendies no longer exists. The trendies who you play with now, will be the first ones too drop you once the newest geek trend comes through.

    I’m old, so i can say with some authority that i’ve seen it before. I saw it with Magic, i saw it with Spellfire (right before the bottom fell out of the CCG market), i’ve seen it with clicky minitures, i’ve seen it with little pieces of cardboard in the shape of pirate ships & i’ve seen it with a plethora of other games that gain extreme interest by trendies, atleast till the next thing comes along.

    The trendies come and go, but only the real fans stick around. Its the number 2 top reason why i don’t see 4E lasting… Number one being is thats its a pretty shallow game & shallow games with the amount of buy-in that 4E has never lasts.

    • Well, that’s not bad per se. D&D was quite a million-person fad back in the early days too and many fell away.

      I would ask Angelo though, and I am asking this seriously – is that really true? Are you really getting newer people into 4e because it’s more accessible?

      Because it doesn’t seem all that much more accessible to me. The Red Box pulled in loads of D&D players and started them up the chain because it was totally accessible. But 4e is still a huge ass set of books, practically requiring an electronic service subscription (Insider)… I really want to know, are you “just saying that” or is 4e really getting in new players, and if so, why? Is it really simpler, or is it just the game y’all are recruiting people to play?

  111. yeah, but you started with the red book, yes? The red book was not exactly complex… try starting with 3E or god forbid, try starting to play with a complete set of “Advanced.” Trying to reverse engineer what you really needed out of all the sillyness.

    And yes 4E players like to recruit. Problem is 4E players have some sort of hearing problem. You say something like “no thank you, 4E is not for me, i think i’ll stick with 3.5” & what they here is “HA! you are a giant moron for playing 4E & i have obviously made up my mind on your perfect system due to bad information given to me by the 3.5 terrorist orgainsation which wants to destroy 4E, mums apple pie & everything thats good. I would also like to have you change my mind for me, by ranting at me for 40 minutes about how good & perfect 4E is… If you could please start with the part where your system is so perfect that if i just gave it a shot, it would have the power to replace both government and religion.”

    I don’t hate 4E, but i am starting to hate its players… especially the ones who don’t play anything but 4E & claim that they are gamers. No game is perfect, and maybe you would kow that if you played some other game as well as 4E.

    Ok, rant over.

  112. 3.5 was the edition that i learned to play dnd on. when 4e came out i felt the same way. it true that their trying to relate to this generation. hey, mabey in 8 to 10 years 5.0 with be better!!! -_-

  113. Wow, a two-year old thread that’s still alive! I suppose I’ll share some of my experiences.

    I started playing PnP games with the original AD&D, then 2e, as well as Champions, Cyberpunk, Mekton, Chill, and various WW games, to name a few. I played a little 3e, but I guess I didn’t really get excited about it enough to get much of an impression.

    Through various life changes, I drifted away from most gaming for a good many years, but then got back into it with Classic Battletech, of all things. I then transitioned to playing board games pretty much exclusively (Catan/Spacefarers, Godstorm/2210, Days of Wonder/Fanasy Flight type stuff). This ended up working out pretty well, since I had gotten married to a wonderful woman who did not hail from the realms of geekdom. Board gaming ended up being something my wife and I could do with our friends for a night of fun. We’ve collected lots of different kind of games, and depending on the players and general mood our game nights have sometimes been more ‘beer & pretzels’, and sometimes been more ‘coffee & tactics’. So, dice were still rolling, and fun was still had.

    I still really missed the open-ended storylines and world exploration of the old RP days, though. Enter D&D 4e. It’s a nearly perfect fit for me. I’ll be the first to agree that the combat definitely takes a little getting used to, as in prior games we almost never used minis or maps. I do somewhat miss the more open-ended, imagination-driven combat, and find 4e combat somewhat limiting compared to my 2e experiences. But, by the same token, I enjoy and appreciate the new mechanics that encourage cooperative effects in combat, and have no problem visualizing the scene and imagining effects and interactions. So yeah, combat’s vastly different. I also kind of like the changes to the magic-user classes, as I’d never really enjoyed the old models.

    While the mechanics have certainly changed, I don’t see anything in the new rules that hinders creative DMs from crafting engaging, interesting stories taking place in well-crafted worlds, with interesting NPC interactions, or anything that hinders players from creating and developing well crafted and emotionally satisfying characters. In almost every role-playing game I’ve ever played in, the DM chose to largely create their own world and campaign setting, instead of using the prewritten stuff (i.e. instead of just ‘reading it out of the book’). So, the scrapping of the lore doesn’t bother me much– although I can certainly see how it’s regrettable to those who’ve heavily invested their RP experiences in the prewritten campaign settings.

    Perhaps most importantly, taken in the right spirit it’s actually fun to play! All of the classic RPG elements still apply: exploration, investigation, red herrings, dungeon-crawls, tavern brawls, drinking games, practical jokes, daring and hare-brained schemes, unraveling evil plots, discovering eldritch horrors and ancient greatness, bravely facing unspeakable evil, and rescuing lost kittens for some poor villager… all of these things are still possible in 4e, and it’s telling stories like this that I play the game for.

    @Jake: I think you have some valid points, but your main gripe seems less like a critique of the rule system and more analogous to bitter hipsterism with regard to a new wave of players attracted to a game that’s more open to new players– i.e. “now that it’s popular and all these ignorant newbs are here, the scene is totally ruined”. Well…they’re new, and they don’t know any better. I think that’s exactly when greybeards like yourself should step in and show the new players how to create great adventures and fun and interesting characters in any system. I suppose the alternative would be to stand on your lawn and shake your fist at those rowdy kids. But, if you care at all about giving back to the hobby by encouraging the next generation of gamers, I’d suggest a more positive approach.

    From what I’ve seen at my LGS, 4e is not going away anytime soon.

  114. @glyph congrats on finding a game you enjoy. I am happy that you have found a game that is such a perfect fit for you. As a fan of many sorts of games, i think i can speak for most of us here when i say we don’t agree with you. Not that you enjoy 4E, i’m sure you do.

    We don’t hate 4E, we just find that its not a perfect fit for us & so we stopped playing it… Its actually been a while since this blog discussion has been actively frequented, but i thought i’d take a second to once again congratulate you on finding a game that perfectly fits your particular style & gaming needs. 🙂


  115. Cheers for gaming in general! 🙂
    Thanks for holding the space.

  116. Totally, we’re happy for you to be happy with 4e 🙂

    I don’t begrudge new people coming into the hobby via 4e – but I fear that 4e behaves very differently to a player of a previous edition, like yourself – you know “how D&D should be” and you just use 4e to fit that. For a lot of new people getting in, 4e on its face is not at all about the role-play and the daring schemes and whatnot – meaning if there aren’t enough greybeards around to show them the ropes, and the 4e books are their only teachers, they get taught bad ropes. Uncle Bear (I think, but I can’t find it) had a good post about trying to DM for some “started with 4e” players at a con and it was a nightmare, they hated his game with real roleplay in it and all.

    4e is a tool, it can be used for “good” or “evil” – but like knives, there are some that are just more dangerous to their user than others, and 4e’s like that.

    And don’t discount its long term effect on you either. When I went back and played some 2e last year, it made me realize a lot of the things that 3e/3.5e had done to me as a gamer over time without me even realizing it, and I didn’t like some of those things. It’s like “you can still eat healthy, even at McDonald’s!” Sure, but I’ll put down money after a year of eating at McDonald’s daily, you won’t be eating healthy any more. It’s human nature.

    But there are positive changes inthe game too, and maybe you get more mileage out of them than drag out of the other stuff, and that’s cool too.

  117. mxyzplk makes some very good points. While retro gaming seems to be making a comeback it is still a very small niche market. But everywhere I go I see 4e books stacked up. Book stores, video game shops, lan centers, I can’t escape 4e!

    Fourth edition is a tool like any other gaming system. However, as an introductory system (as it is for a great many young people of the World of Warcraft generation) it places so much emphasis on combat and a bleak world with only a cursory nod to actual roleplaying. The only 4e gamers that I have personally witnessed roleplaying in a game are veteran gamers. The tables of new people are predominantly focused on maximizing their “talent build” and hack n slash.

    I can’t help but wonder if this is only going to polarize the market. To an extent it has already done so with Pathfinder breaking off and heading in its own direction with few players that I know of playing both games.

    There may be some very good elements to 4e that could be mined and added to an existing mature game system to the benefit of everyone. But on its own I still contend that 4e is not the way I want to go with my gaming.

  118. Hi there. For starters, I apologize in advance for any gramatical or orthographical error made in this comment. I’m portuguese so, as you may imagine, English isn’t my native language.

    I don’t have the time to read all the comments here but, from the ones I did, I see this is a community of mostly 3rd edition lovers.

    I’m no noob in D&D, i’ve played since 2e and refused to switch to 3e when it came out, and i’m glad i did. 3e had confuse rules, lot’s of “tweaks” from the original rules each month and like a bajillion class/race/prestige class combinations. But, when 4e came out, i gladly and happily switched over to 4e.

    I think the power system is a great improvement to the game, ESPECIALY to spellcasters. What sense does it make to cast a magic missile and then have to sleep 8 hours to be able to cast it again? If you see some fantasy movies/read some fantasy novels, you’ll see that wizards are capable of conjuring more than 1 magic missile or whatever spell per day, even the most young wizards (no, i’m not going into harry potter with this).

    Also, the power system gave new combat options to other non-spellcasting characters. For example, a fighter in every edition just had 1 option: “I strike it with my [insert weapon name here]”. Now, the powers translate themselves into real life combat possibilities, like bashing your foe with your shield, protecting yourself, or stab his foot to slow him down. And no, I never was the guy with the 10k HP serving as meatshield to a horde of goblins. I actualy played a rogue most times in 2e, and i even think the rogue is better in 4e.

    I don’t see 4e as a hindrance to role-playing as i saw 3e (frankly, i do think 3e was roll-playing, not role-playing, since you could make a lwafull good paladin/rogue/assassin that murders people for a living and still make it work, wich i think it’s unthinkable).

    So, for all you 3e lovers, a big “shove it”. 4e has come as the best inprovement to D&D since AD&D 2e!

    • @DnDrake: Nope, your wrong… Not subjectively wrong, you’re 4Evenger style wrong. I wont go into great detail, but pretty much everything you said is wrong.

      You’re welcome to your belief that your system is superior, but don’t try and discredit something you freely admit you didn’t play. 3.5 players don’t hate 4E, but we do hate 4Evengers. That is all.


      p.s “Obvious Troll” is obvious.

  119. Well @DnDrake, you brought that on yourself – your comment was fine till you decided to be a cockknocker at the end there.

    To address some of your points before you decided to flex your Internet Muscles ™, I like 2e as well and definitely think there’s some things that 3e doesn’t do better than it – in fact, read a separate post I did on that topic. 3e/3.5e isn’t perfect.

    And I’m happy you are enjoying 4e, even though I disagree with pretty much all your other points.

  120. Well, for starters, Mathew, I did in fact play 3e, cuz if you want to know if you like something, you need to try it first. And let me tell ya, I didn’t like it at all. The system is unstable with lots of holes in the “over 9000!” rules. I’m not a 4Evenger or whatever you 3e lovers call it, I’m just a guy who likes games that are well designed. I belive 4e is superior cuz I didn’t welcome it like the most of you, with pure desbelief. True, when I first read the 4e rules I though “hey, what a big piece of crap!” but I tried it out. Friends of mine, 3e and 3.5e lovers, refused to play 4e since it got out. I convinced them to try it out, they did and now they’re playing 4e every friday night. And no troll comments please. I realy think you guys are above of that type of things.

    Also, mxyzplk, don’t start on the verbal abuse there. Cockknocker…
    I didn’t disrespect noone. I know “shove it” wasn’t at all apropriate, and I apologize for that. Is that I see too much irrational hate among 3e lovers that I realy needed to say that. Anyway, you 3e lovers promptly refuse to try anything new cuz your system is so perfect and its rules covers everything, even if you want to take a dump I’m sure that it’ll have a rule for that. Also, Internet Muscles? Come on man! First of all, I never do that, second of all, I don’t realy need to do that, cuz I think that logical debate is better than fisical or verbal violence, wich seems not be your opinion with that comment…
    And I realy can’t belive you disagree with a mage only being able to cast one spell per day after eight hours of sleep, or that a paladin/rogue/assassin is a viable character (come on man, that’s ridiculous!). If you realy do…I pity you…indeed I do…

    To finish, 3e is, mostly, a big pile of poorly crafted skills, feats, rules and costum content, while 4e picks up what’s best in 3e (yes, there are some things that 3e does right. I never said that 3e is 100% bad…just like 90, 85% bad) and fixes what it did wrong.

    Now, if someone wants to comment on that, I’d apreciate they did so by taking mathew for an example…on how not to comment.

  121. THE RETURN OF OBVIOUS TROLL: This time its personal. 😀

    @DnDrake: And you’re still wrong. As for the term 4Evenger, it refers to any person who runs around declaring that 4E is the best thing since the invention of blow jobs & if you would just give it a shot, you’d see that its not only superior to 3E, but also better then all religion & forms of goverment combined.

    I think i can say with relative safety, that we have all tried 4E & found it lacking in some fundamental way, to our prefered gaming style. Hence we didn’t bother with it. I can also say with some confidence that all of us here also play other games, outside of D&D. Heck i’ve got an entire shelf dedicated to my active games: Eclipse Phase, Spirit of the Century, 2E D&D, Mutants and Masterminds 2E, Alliance LARP (using its PnP rules in the back), Hackmaster Basic & TMNT after the bomb. Those are just the active games.

    If you want to be argumentative about it however, you cannot build a paladin/rogue/assassin as a legal character, nor does a 1st level wizard only throw a single magic missile before needing a rest. Thats the kind of hyperbole 4Evengers use as facts to prove there system is superior, which only goes so far as to prove its subjective inferiority. If 4E were as superior as you seem to think it is, you wouldn’t have to make up shit to discourage people from trying 3.5.

    Enjoy the game you want to enjoy, but don’t try and tell us all that we are less intelligent then you becuase we don’t enjoy playing your prefered system.

  122. Ok, if you want to start offending people, Mathew, let’s offend people.

    First of all, stop with the troll abuse. It’s getting kinda idiotic, and I realy think, or thought for that matter, that you are above it.

    Second, I never told that 4e was the best thing around. I still do prefer 2e above anything, although I also like 4e and dislike 3/3.5e.

    If your prefered gaming style is power gaming (wich it does seem it is) then go ahead with 3e. 3e is still roll-play for me, not roleplay.

    Also, I never said “hey you n00b you only play 3e duh and you suck and stuff”. I’m glad to hear that people play other games as well. I for one would love to try out LARPing, but I lack the time and people to do it (portugal isn’t very adept to that 😦 )

    And if you realy think I told you you are less inteligent for playing 3e, than you realy lack inteligence. Go review my comments, you’ll find nothing of that sort in there. And no, I’m not trying to convince anyone to dump 3e, I’m only pointing out what 4e has to offer that 3e didn’t. If anyone want to quickly dump the format they love for another one just because of I say, hell yeah your less inteligent! If you realy like one style of playing, you should stick to it and defend it, not change your mind when the first person you meet says it suck.

    Also, I’m not making up shit to do whatever your saying I’m doing. So, if you wanna keep flex your “Internet Muscles”, like mxyzplk said, go ahead. Uninteligent comments don’t realy affect me. But if, instead, you wanna talk without your “ring of master assholeness +5”, I’d be must happy to.

    • Obvious troll is still obviously wrong.

      3.5 does the things we want it too do, 4E does not. Our system is subjectively better then your, because we enjoy it & we don’t enjoy yours. End of story.

      As for calling you Obvious-Troll, i’m afraid i’m going to have to continue calling you that, as its obvious that the only reason you commented was to troll; hence “Obvious Troll.”

      Thank you for commenting Obvious Troll & have a nice day 😀


      • Well it seems that now your getting out of arguments mr “you’re a troll cuz i say so and i rulez!”
        “My system is betters cuz i likes it betters”? What kind of stupid argument is that?

        If you think i’m just trolling, well think again. Have i come here to insult people, make off-topic comments or otherwise spoil the discussion? I may have gone a bit overboard in my first post, with the shove it, but i apologized after. I also didn’t came here to make a point, cuz, in the end, it all goes down to a matter of taste, but to give my 2 cents about the topic and maybe get some constructive criticism out of someone on the other side of the argument. And what do i get? Some dude flexing it’s internet muscles at me saying “I know stuff, you’re a troll, you suck and everything you say sucks…cuz…er…you suck!”

        Now, i point it out again, if you wanna discuss things rationally, i’d love to. If ya don’t, go insult people somewhere else.

  123. @Obvious_Troll: Actually when it comes down to preference, then yes, being subjectively better is in fact based on personal preference, as what i want out of my game is different from what you want out of your game. So yes, the game i enjoy because it does what i want, is a perfect rational for me enjoying he game that does the thing i want. Seems like basic circular logic to the uninitiated but there it is, the be all and end all of your Edition War.

    As for you coming here to having a rational discussion, nothing says rational like ending your opening post with & i quote: “So, for all you 3e lovers, a big “shove it”. 4e has come as the best inprovement to D&D since AD&D 2e!”

    Obvious Troll is Obvious.


    • Once again, you don’t cease to amaze me. In a bad way of course. Have i not apologized for being rude? Anyway, that’s out of context…

      In context: If you like 3e better, then it’s your preference. It does not make it better than 4e just because you like it better. I like 4e better but it still doesn’t make 4e better than 3e. I expressed my opinion (even with that sad shove it comment on the end, for wich i again apologize) and tried to point out why i though 4e was better, not just “me sa likes it betters!”. Now, if you still want to call me obvious troll, be my guest! I think i’ll start using it as my forum nickname and such. I do like irony!

  124. @Obvious_Troll: Actually thats exactly what “subjectively better” means. I hold that 3.5 is better, because i like 3.5 & it does what i want, while 4E does not, hence it is subjectively better from my point of view. You think 4E is better hence subjectively from your point of view 4E is better. Neither one can claim any sort of superiority, so the best one can hope for is for people to understand subjective qualities.

    • Does not seem to be what you expressed in your previous posts, where you claim 3e superiority, but since you don’t seem to be coherent throughout your comments, let’s leave it at this:

      Yay you win, I’m a troll, your the best! Kudos for you!
      Now, as a troll, i’ll take my leave to my dark cave away from society where i can just troll around and do trollish stuff with my troll friends and such.

      There. Happy? Don’t bother to reply.

      – (not so)Obvious_Troll

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

  126. I love D&D 3.5 and I have been playing 4ed a while now as well. It’s best to think of them both as completely different games, because they are. 3.5 is role play game with combat. 4ed is combat with a bit of role play, it’s more or less a tabletop version of the game with all the small rules chucked out, so you can get down to the fun combat. It took me a while to get into the 4ed game but once you’ve played it a while and stop comparing it to 3.5 you can start to enjoy the game. If you have a group that has a DM learner or not brilliant at DMing then 4ed is for you. It’s less about the story and more about the encounters. You have fewer skills and spells to worry about that can tie up some players. It is a fun good game. 3.5 is great as a RPG while 4ed is great as a tabletop game with RPG elements. But while they are related they are different game systems.

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t be as incensed if they had just marketed it as “Advanced D&D Minis” or “Chainmail 4″… It’s just that by saying “no, this is what D&D is now” they are effectively going to be limiting exposure to real roleplay for a whole new generation of “what is this I see in Barnes & Noble” types.

  127. I don’t quite get the reasoning here, sorry. The core rules in a roleplaying game are about the game part, not the roleplaying one. I still vividly remember playing Pathfinder with roleplaying newbies last year – hell, I still vividly remember my own first steps – and from a roleplaying perspective it sucked. I remember AD&D groups of veterans dedicated entirely to hack&slay. A few months back I started a 4e group and the roleplaying is stellar.

    So, is 4e inherently better for roleplaying? Hell no. I told my players not to bother buying the rulebooks and filling out a character sheet at the beginning. I had them imagine a character they would like to play (not fighter, not mage but Timmy who happens to be a bit smarter then the rest, has some interesting flaws and so on) gave them a rough template of basic stats without a class and powers and threw them into an adventure. Play your character and we see how he turns out. RPGs usually do it the other way around, you learn all about the crunch first and foremost. If you’re lucky you’ll end up in a group with seasoned roleplayers who’ll lead by example but usually the first dozen sessions are utterly devoid of that.

    Take of the nostalgia filter and take a long, honest look back.

    • So if you ignore the rules, it becomes a better roleplaying game. Yes, that’s what I’d expect.

      Anyway, you’re engaging in an obvious logical fallacy. Yes, people *have* performed great roleplaying with just about any system, and people have performed awful roleplaying with any system. That doesn’t change the fact that certain systems are more conducive to it, and that a larger percentage of groups/campaigns/sessions will therefore be roleplaying vs. tactical gaming. It’s a basic, obvious point, go read “System Does Matter” if you need in depth explanation of that.

  128. My problem with “play your character and see how he turns out” with regards to D&D 4e is that you have rules like, “You are Marked, so everyone gets a bonus to hit you” or “This guy gets a free attack of opportunity if you try to move away” that pull me out of the role-playing mentality. Those are gamey rules, not rules based on role playing.

    • Those aren’t new to 4e, though. “Everyone gets a bonus to hit you” has always been in D&D. Step in something sticky? Rust monster ate your shield? Everyone gets a bonus to hit you. “Attacks of opportunity” weren’t named and standardized until 3e, but haven’t they always been there? I can’t remember if 1e had them, but I know 2e did.

      (Less importantly, that’s not what Marked is. Marked is “This guy is harrying you, which makes it harder for you to attack anyone but him.”)

      • Sure, but theres a difference between a system containing those traits & a system made up almost completely of those traits. Whats more it has a tendency to take me out of the game, as unlike say AOO, its not consistent.

        • What was 3e’s combat system made out of, then, if not “those traits”? I’m not even sure what “those traits” are, exactly — combat effects?In that case, The only real difference that I see is that 4e streamlined “those traits”, making them _more_ consistent.

          For example, as much fun as it is to read about exactly how many targets Magic Missile can hit at each level and the various rules surrounding what groups of enemies it can target, with respect to distance between enemies, line of sight between enemies, line of sight to the caster, etc., in play it’s more of a hassle than anything else. Relying on bursts, blasts and walls makes it easier to internalize the rules and thus not have to consciously focus on them.

          As another example, removing effects that lowered base stats due to the number of recalculations that required. No more having to recalculate your encumberance penalties mid-battle if your strength changes! That seems like a positive thing to me, if not a purely positive thing. It’s certainly more consistent than 3e’s “every spell has its own rules block” philosophy.

          • Here’s a good article that goes into depth about why 4e’s mechanics are more dissociated than 3e’s, which is the heart of the problem really.

            That’s not to say nothing in 4e is an improvement on 3e. As you note, 3.5e had already started to go down the way-too-many-rules rabbit hole. But while 4e made some strides forward in simplifying core mechanics, it unfortunately hit the “worst of both worlds” – the legalism mentality of 3.5e added to the simplicity going too far into restriction ends up creating a game that is a game, not a fictional world.

          • (the article turned out to be longer than I thought, so I’ll start by replying to the first part)
            I guess I’ve never had the problem he has with martial powers. In particular, he says:

            “If you’re watching a football game, for example, and a player makes an amazing one-handed catch, you don’t think to yourself: “Wow, they won’t be able to do that again until tomorrow!”

            It’s a fair point, but at the same time, nor do you think, “Well gee, why doesn’t he just do that every time? They’d win this game easily if they simply stuck to performing at the absolute peak of athleticism!” Physical exertion takes focus and concentration, which are not in unlimited supply. Specific maneuvers tax specific muscles. Those are two separate, realistic ways to explain why a Rogue might only use Trick Strike once per day.

            You could explain it narratively — rarely, the Rogue has the opportunity to string together an incredible series of feints, and the player is given (limited) agency to decide when this occurs.

            You could explain it magically — that even a low-level Rogue is already equivalent to the real world’s best athletes, and beyond that our understanding of athleticism doesn’t just scale up. By the time that Rogue is questing through the Far Realm to steal Hope itself, we can’t expect to explain his abilities based on what a mere football player can do.

            And then there’s mechanically, as in the Rogue has all manner of springs and hidden blades built into his equipment that can’t be properly re-set until the party has the time and the security to make camp for the night.

            Any of those feel much more grounded in reality to me than “the wizard can ‘store’ a very specific number of spells, neatly arranged into discrete levels, because: It’s Magic”. It works, and it’s a part of D&D history, but it doesn’t make more sense to me just because it has doesn’t have any grounding in the real world.

            If I had to choose the more realistic/versimilitudinous/associated explanation for physical feats, I would go with “some particularly difficult feats tax the character in a way that requires him to rest before attempting it again” over “a character can never perform a physical feat that exerts him in any way — if he can perform it once, he can perform it non-stop, all day long, without pause.”

          • (the article turned out to be longer than I thought, so I’ll start by replying to the first part)
            I guess I’ve never had the problem he has with martial powers. In particular, he says:

            “If you’re watching a football game, for example, and a player makes an amazing one-handed catch, you don’t think to yourself: “Wow, they won’t be able to do that again until tomorrow!”

            It’s a fair point, but at the same time, nor do you think, “Well gee, why doesn’t he just do that every time? They’d win this game easily if they simply stuck to performing at the absolute peak of athleticism!” Physical exertion takes focus and concentration, which are not in unlimited supply. Specific maneuvers tax specific muscles. Those are two separate, realistic ways to explain why a Rogue might only use Trick Strike once per day.

            You could explain it narratively — rarely, the Rogue has the opportunity to string together an incredible series of feints, and the player is given (limited) agency to decide when this occurs.

            You could explain it magically — that even a low-level Rogue is already equivalent to the real world’s best athletes, and beyond that our understanding of athleticism doesn’t just scale up. By the time that Rogue is questing through the Far Realm to steal Hope itself, we can’t expect to explain his abilities based on what a mere football player can do.

            And then there’s mechanically, as in the Rogue has all manner of springs and hidden blades built into his equipment that can’t be properly re-set until the party has the time and the security to make camp for the night.

            Any of those feel much more grounded in reality to me than “the wizard can ‘store’ a very specific number of spells, neatly arranged into discrete levels, because: It’s Magic”. It works, and it’s a part of D&D history, but it doesn’t make more sense to me just because it has doesn’t have any grounding in the real world.

            If I had to choose the more realistic/versimilitudinous/associated explanation for physical feats, I would go with “some particularly difficult feats tax the character in a way that requires him to rest before attempting it again” over “a character can never perform a physical feat that exerts him in any way — if he can perform it once, he can perform it non-stop, all day long, without pause.”

        • I’d just rather have a game that supports the fictional world than one I have to jump through hoops to justify. It really hinders you from getting into character, which not everyone does, but I do.

  129. Thank you everyone it is so refeshing to come to a site and speak your mind and be called arcahic or 4e basher and end up with your posts deleted and a rude pm from the admin of the site. Mind you those same people can take pop shots at all earlier edtions unscathed.

    OK now with that off my chest when I DM or play in a game I like one with a balance of hack and slash and rpg to play in so in other words no 4e. Don’t mistake 4e’s approachability and streamlined nature for simplicity. Just ask any power gamer there is as much in tactical depth in 4e as there is in any other game, even if a few items didn’t make it onto the equipment list and some skills are left to the discretion of the DM.

    And that’s just on the mechanical level. Obviously, on the Role playing level, there’s nothing reducing the amount of depth possible. In fact, there are those that argue that the removal of “social skills” as numerical constructs deepens the game play in this respect.

    I know some like 4e it and thats great for you, I tried it and to me it came off as a World of Warcraft crammed into to a bastardised D&D system if it was called something else I may have not been as critical.

  130. My problem with the “You can explain daily feats away narratively or magically or mechanically” is that you are tacking an explanation onto an unexplained mechanic, which makes it impossible to tie that explanation into the game in any meaningful way.

    For example, let’s say that you have a modifier: “Player defends at -2 to any attacks from behind.” Without an explanation of why that penalty is there, you can’t determine when it does or doesn’t apply. What if the player gains the ability to see in a 360° arc? If the penalty is due to vision, then it would no longer apply; if the penalty is due to limitations of his ability to reach backwards, then it would apply; if the penalty is due to a weakness in the back of his armor, it would also apply. Defining abilities as statistics, instead of in storytelling terms, means that the game system is divorced from the game world itself.

    Another example: You explain the rogue’s ability as “the Rogue has all manner of springs and hidden blades built into his equipment that can’t be properly re-set until the party has the time and the security to make camp for the night.” Now he ends up staying overnight in a palace…but all of his items are taken away. Does he get to reset his power or not?

    Simply put, if you separate the system from the storytelling, the players and GM have no way to simulate their roleplaying within the system, except as rigidly defined beforehand.

  131. @Andy “Defining abilities as statistics, instead of in storytelling terms, means that the game system is divorced from the game world itself.”


    I’m a fan of many games inculding Mutants and Masterminds & that game showed me how important it is for powers/abilities to be linked to an actual story reason for doing things.

    For example i ran a 1 shot adventure a monsth or two ago including a nanite swarm that communicated via ulta frequency noise, that can be heard by most humans. However two of my PC’s had ultrahearing, 1 in the form of a suit of armour & the other naturually. The armour suited character just turned off that particular sensor, but the Shazam like paragon had to keep her distance or be overwhelmed by it…

    That story would have been very different if not for the grounding in the reality of the narrative form.

  132. hehehehehehe I love how 3E grognards love a not real RPG as well as 4E, both games are battle oriented, as the worst part 3E has such quantity of rules that RPG itself and interpretation of one character are left aside to a roll system, RPing it’s not going to a town talk with people and roll dice to see if you have succeed or not being nice or intimidating them.
    Anyway points I don’t play 3e for a long time (and that doesn’t mean I don’t like 3e or that I strongly assume that I’m right and any other thought is wrong), are the next:
    I hated 3E DM or player love rulers, because anytime some pc wanted to do something and the rule was not well described or not understand well, we have to go back to books read over and over and deliberate for it was or not possible to make the action suggested then you had another discussion if it was right whether or not to make certain roll dice, after 30 or 60 minutes let’s back to play.
    3E DMing was a laborious task; many of DMs routed to their dungeon anyway because of their spending time on generate it, and the background history became more and more linear, and the feeling was almost null that as players affecting the world; as a DM I tried not to have a dungeon pre generated but it came the part to improvise over the march, even though you prepared the story for so long before…
    3E it’s about rules, it’s about skills and it’s about hitting the monster. As one player said in one narration to our DM: “talking doesn’t give experience let’s kill the bas…ard”, having a combat take a lot of time 3 to 4 hours most of the time, and realizing that most of the spells our mage has were crap for this encounter or he with a simple move blew out the room, poor consistency of what players can do from one day to the other.
    Any way it’s not that I hate 3E it’s that it consumes too much time and for now I work and have a new family, I’d rather play other games which illustrate more the RP side of the hobby, less complicated battle rules, and more liberty and less debating about the rules. And please don´t take it to the bad side but for me, in order to enjoy D&D I strongly prefer 4E has more options with less books, it’s more about telling what you are doing in order to flavor your pc even in combat, less rules more given to your imagination and your little list of your skills, and DMing has become also a lot of easier and gives me space to work more in the history than in the battle; and pcs I play with, love more the history than the battle… But once again it’s just my point of view.
    Finally I’m trying to give a shot to Dragon Age, it’s lots of simpler, I got a little bored with Vampire and werewolf, so I’m back to fantasy RPG’s 😉

    • “3E it’s about rules, it’s about skills and it’s about hitting the monster”

      Okay, that seems to be the heart of your opinion & i have to say “No, you are wrong.” It could be all about combat if thats what the DM wanted to run, but one could also play a more social, city building, urban, intrigue game, where you need not role a single “to hit” the entire story. An yet it still worked.

      You try that in 4E & people would quit your game by the end of session 2. 4E is nothing but dice rolling combat & non combat stuff that works exactly like combat. Its books are empty of fluff & without the fluff the game devolves into mindless empty combats, with no surprises.

      Sure DMing has become easier, but ease has nothing to do with quality & does nothing to entice new players into the game (at least not players who aren’t going to get bored 2 weeks into it, or as soon as something new and shinny appears on the scene).

      Just my opinion of course, but 4E has already shown it does not have the staying power of even 2E, let alone 3E.

      • And I think this is the heart of the problem.

        “Can” a DM insert more role-playing and exploration into 4e? Sure.

        But 4e has deliberately marginalized the role and authority of the DM. And people that play “stock” 4e with other groups will expect nothing but killfest, with a skill challenge thrown in because that’s what “role-playing and exploration” have been reduced to.

        Uncle Bear had a story (Don’t have a link, his blogs go up and down so much I can’t keep up) about going to run 4e at a convention and trying to run it RP-heavy; his group of players rebelled.

        It dumbs down the overall player pool and thus it becomes harder and harder for someone to do something better with the game. And yes, that’s a value judgment. Because when it comes down to it, it’s like music. You may like pop better than classical music. But it’s obvious which is a more refined version of the form. 4e is to role-playing what Guitar Hero is to music. It encourages you to ape the externalities, but the skills it requires are not sufficient for actual music-making.

        • I could see having trouble running an RP-heavy 4E game at a convention, but then I could as easily see having trouble doing the same in 3.x. My experience is one-off and weekend games, like those found at conventions, tend to be more roll-play than role-play. Maybe your experience is different.

          When 4E first came out, I grabbed our usual 3.5 group and we sat down to play through Keep on the Shadowfell. It took us about three months playing once a week to finish, because most of our sessions were spent role-playing. The first session we sat down to play didn’t even include an encounter of any sort. Most sessions had one, maybe two encounters, but half of each session was easily spent roleplaying their characters: visiting the local farms, hanging out at the blacksmith, convincing each other to drink the Wizard’s dubious potions, barging in on old men bathing, chatting up a goblin (once they eventually got to the keep…), etc.

          Sure, our group tends toward roleplay, so maybe they are the exception. But, I don’t see how the system is responsible for the play styles of the players. It can go either way easily. Still, I prefer 3.x to 4E personally.

          • See, this is the fallacy that it’s hard to see.

            If you are used to playing a given way, like with roleplaying, when you take up a game that is less conducive to it, you do it anyway.

            However, new gamers just taking up RPGs don’t. They don’t have the legacy experience you do. So soon you are confronted with a player base that just wants to wargame, not roleplay.

            And it changes you over time, too. In retrospect I see gaming tendencies that 3e installed in myself and other gamers that “snuck up on us” and were undesirable (CharOp, for example).

            As for “how can the system be responsible” – understanding is as easy as reading two seminal articles on roleplaying. First, System Does Matter, which explains how system affects gameplay, and second, Dissociated Mechanics, which specifically explains how 4e’s mechanics affect gameplay and inhibit roleplay and immersion.

  133. Interesting converation. Thanks for the link to “Dissociated Mechanics”–that article put together in a very thoughtful way several concerns I’ve had only in a vague and inarticulate way til now.

    However, I think the author misses a way to resolve the problem of dissociated mechanics in 4e. Near the end ofthe article he contrasts narrative style gaming with roleplay style gaming. He says neither is inherently better–and cites with approval a system called “Wushui” whicch focusses on narrative rather than rolep.lay. But the author says then that 4e is focussing on mechanics instead of roleplay. I think the author should consider the possibility that 4e provides an ouopportunity to engage in narrative based gaming as well.

    For examplle, how to explain the mechanics of daily powers? The author is right that it makes little sense within the game world to say “I can only use this power one time” if the power iss omething like shifting your opponent arround during an encounter. But this can be explained in _narrative_ terms. A story in which a character just constantly pulled off these kinds of powers all the time would not be a very good story. One in which he does it only once or twice is able to be a better story.

    Not a perfect resoultion–we still need to explain, in any particular story, why the character in fact _doesn’t_ do the same thing later the same day. But that’s not at all an insurmouintable obstacale. A good DM (or player) should be able to come up with something if it becomes an issue. (On one occasion, perhaps, it’s because the opponent has been warned about the character’s trickiness in combat. On another occasion, perhaps, it’s because the character just isn’t in “the zone” as much as he was before. Make up whatever you like for each incident in which the questioncomes up for some reason.Sure, this is adhock, but since when does roleplaying not involve a lot of stuff that’s adhoc? It’s just that in this case, what’s adhoc is not figuring out how to resolve a proposed action, (thought hat occurs in 4e plenty, of course!) but rather explaining why things have turned out as the mechancis require, in _story_ terms.

    My apologies for the spelling errors–there’s something wrong with te forum post field on this page (on my computer anyway) making it very difficult to reliably place the cursor on errors and correct them, .

    • You are right, 4e has some narrativist elements. However, narrativist != immersion – as you start to see all the things you “have to explain away” in your response. Frankly, a lot of the current crop of indie games are composed of a gamist/narrativist mix that leaves me cold.

      According to the old Threefold Model There are three primary creative agendas you can serve with a RPG – gamist (rules and winning), narration (story and authoring), and simulation (world and character). Simulation is the stance that lends itself to character immersion. Some people talk about ‘story immersion’ but that’s a BS coopting of the term, being engrossed in something isn’t immersion. We used to call it “roleplaying” but then all the morlocks insisted that playing minis combat games *was* roleplaying, so it got renamed “immersion,” and now people insist they are “immersing” in the rules or the story. Sigh.

    • Also if you’re interested in this you may want to check out the new post currently under discussion about immersion vs. metagaming!

    • But see, that’s the entire problem: You say that the game doesn’t have to focus on mechanics over narrative, but you’re using narrative to explain the mechanics, instead of the other way around. The mechanics should fit the narrative, not the other way around.

      The problem with coming up with a narrative to explain the mechanics is that it’s tacked on, has absolutely no bearing on gameplay, and breaks down if you try to use it in gameplay. For example, let’s come up with an explanation for the “once a day” powers: say that the character gets too tired to use the power more than once. Fine. Now say your character finds a Potion of Rejuvenation: Does that mean that he can use his powers again that day? Or what if he runs into a spell that instantly ages him a day. Or he experiences a magical sleep that doesn’t let him rest overnight. Can any of these narrative elements override the game mechanics? No.

      The very fact that you have to bend over backwards to find an in-game explanation for technical mechanics (and those explanations can do nothing to change the mechanics) shows that the game’s creators prioritized mechanics, at the expense of narrative. The other website has more examples, but when you can name multiple gameplay elements that have no narrative explanation (like marking, attacks of opportunity, and so on), it shows that narrative loses to mechanics.

      • I know that this was discussed a while back, so forgive me for jumping into this so late. I’m a relatively new player of DnD, and started with 4e. I was just wondering what was keeping the DM from explaining how daily powers worked and sticking to that? If a daily refreshes after eight hours rest, and we decide as a group that Potions of Rejuvination are now going to act as granting eight hour rests, wouldn’t that kind of logically refresh the daily without having to bend over backwards? Or if the player gets captured and prevented from resting, no, you don’t get the power even though it’s the next day because that makes sense?

        I just feel like there are so many ways to explain why different things happen and don’t, and it really isn’t very difficult at all. I don’t get how the mechanic is stopping any narrative and halting any changing of said mechanic, as long as it is consistent.

        Unless i’ve entirely missed the point, in which case could someone please explain it to me? I’m reading a lot of posts about how 4e is awful and the new people that are playing it are unintelligent and just want a hack and slash experience, which is offensive to someone like me who is super new at this game and who really, really enjoys good role-playing.

        So if i’ve misunderstood something, i’m really sorry. Please help me understand what’s going on here?

        • ” I was just wondering what was keeping the DM from explaining how daily powers worked and sticking to that?”

          Because its consistently inconsistent. We are talking about having magic, fighting technicques & just basic use of combat skills, all apparently being used in an unnatural way. Why does a per encounter magic spell work the exact same way as an per counter fighter ability… An why do per encounter fighter abilities work at all? If i use tide of iron, why do i need to wait until the next encounter to use it again?

          The only excuse i ever had a GM give me is “well your opponent knows you have learnt that technique.” Sure that seemed rational until i pointed out “what happens if its knightly combat tourney & you’ve fought an opponent, you both take a break & then you go back for round 2. He still knows you can do it, such does it still work? What about tomorrow? Next week? An why do spells work the same way?”

          Needless to say, that was pretty close to the end of 4E for me. Whenever you find yourself trying to create narrative to fix a problem with the rules, thats called a “disassociated mechanic.” Every game has a few of these lurking around, but when your game is predicated on them, thats really bad. Bored games can get away with it, but not a roelaplying game & lets be honest 4E is most certainly a board game… a board game with pretentions, but a board game none the less.

          An the 4E engione version of Gamma World is even worse… If that system came with a dice rolling determined name generator, it wouldn’t actually require players at all.

  134. What’s the quintessential example of an RPG that focusses on roleplaying instead of narrative? (Preferably one I can find out quite a bit about onlineif possible.)

  135. Look, Heinsoo doesn’t understand mythological resonance, and likes arbitrary confected fantasy crap that he thinks is equivalent to traditional tropes and archetypes, but is very, very wrong. The result is uncool concepts and uncompelling worlds.

    The result of this stank up and sank Dreamblade, and now has stunk up and is sinking D&D. Heinsoo is now gone, but the team and culture who supported his vision is still there, so WOTC cannot be trusted with D&D for the foreseeable future.


  136. Drooles, that’s a really interesting post. Are you talking about things like shardminds, seekers, etc? Does Heinsoo indicate in some interview(s) somewhere that he thinks these are traditional fantasy tropes?

  137. Granted I have only played every version and half version since AD&D was still new(’84), but I also play all other forms of games from cards, to miniatures to video games(all sorts). To me 4e is the next evolution of gaming. When we play 4e we are using full size battle maps, cards dice, miniatures you name it and soon DDI will have the virtual table top and bring in the video aspect of sorts. I was skeptical at first myself, but after I played it a few times I realized that this is gaming and I have all the fun I had as I did when I was 12 and playing. Game on!

    • One minor problem with that logic: 4E has been a commercial failure.

      Even Pathfinder has done better then 4E. In fact last year Paizos market shares for Pathfinder equalled those of WotC Market Share for 4E, not including digital sales, which honestly, i’d say Paizo kicked WotC arse in.

      Every mistep WotC has made, Paizo has been there to capatalise on. $e comes out Paizo releases Pathfinder, WotC brings out collectable cards Paizo brings out books, WotC cancels its Mini’s Paizo starts making the same sort of mini’s from the same company. Mistep and step.

      As for the virtual tabletop, its a concept that wont take off, with anything but you 40 year old gamer who still wants to game, has moved away from his gaming friends for work & is to set in his ways to find a new group. Everyone else prefers the face to face nature of RPGs.

  138. its amazing how long people have been arguing about this. literally years. it makes me happy for some odd reason. i think everyone should appreciate all the gaming passion that is represented here it doesnt matter what version of what game your prefer. to me its just great that people enjoy being creative and imaginative so deeply that they feel the need to defend what they love most about gaming. everyone plays differently and therefore enjoys different elements. all of you are what makes me love the community

  139. The way I look at it its up to the DM to set the stage. I haven’t touched the 4e books because of the stigma and lack of will from my group to run it. But for anyone to say it lacks roleplaying they are nuts. The rules are the system the game is set upon. For all the people complaining about the number jockies of new players. Well if that’s what works for them then awesome. If they can’t adapt to roleplaying then there are two things. One they only like the number crunch (very few stay in this state for long) or the GM isn’t doing his job.

    I started on 3.5 with our GM running HIS story and if it fell outside his jurisdiction it went into dungeon crawl. After about a year of this the few friends we got into it wanted more. So we started delving into our own stories and adapting 3.5 or d20 modern into our tastes. Now we have played full sessions running everything from Mouseguard, Burning Wheel, Kobolds ate my baby, Firefly, QUAGS, to just making our own systems.

    A rule book should not define roleplaying. I am actually interested in some 4e because I find combat in 3.5 to be the worst thing about it. Hell 4e might be worse but I’m willing to give it a look. I respect the people that tried it and didn’t like it but some of this board on both sides are rediculous. The GMs job isn’t to run the game the GMs job is to make the setting for the players to run the game on.

  140. Justin, it’s not about the rulebook defining roleplaying; it’s about the game mechanics making roleplaying more difficult. Take Chess as an example: Sure, you could add roleplaying elements on to Chess, but the game would quickly fall apart.

    “Okay, I want to attack the guy in front of me.”
    “You can’t. You can only attack the guy diagonally in front of you.”
    “Why? I don’t understand how I can’t attack a guy who is standing right there…!”

    Sure, the GM could make up some fancy explanation for why pawns can’t attack straight ahead of them (or can’t move backwards, or whatever), but the fact is that the rule was made up without roleplaying in mind. That’s what D&D 4E is like.

    Take a D&D example: There is one move that makes the attacker and the target switch places, presumably because they are jockeying for position or something (although this is never explicitly spelled out). On one of the D&D podcasts, they used this when a guy on the ground was attacking a guy on a cliff above him. The player said, “Wait, if I’m attacking him up there, do I still get to switch places with him? He’s on a cliff!” And the GM said, “Well, the rules don’t say anything about exceptions, so sure! You switch places with him.” The rules are based around a mechanic which sounds good, but doesn’t actually work in some situations. There is no RP way to explain how, in the middle of a battle, one player could scramble up a cliff and force his opponent to move down.

    It’s those kind of mechanics that really take me out of the RP experience.

  141. Long Discussion. I enjoyed it for the most part 🙂

    I’ve been playing Tabletop RPGs since 1984, so not as song as some, but still
    a considerable experience with the D&D (and variants) genre.

    Now I am a huge fan of the 2nd edition, but never get to play it (as a
    player) because everyone is afraid of the rules and dont want to DM it, so I
    had to plunge into the 3/3.5. I was immediately struck as to how 3.5 turned
    everyone into a power-gamer, it was insiduous at first. Remember stats from
    2nd ed? there was no real difference between a huge range of stat (say 8-13
    I think ? for charisma). Then comes the 3rd where every point counts. Your
    wizard’s Fireball still does 10d6 of damage; however that 20con
    dwarf-fighter (equal to a 19con in 2nd ED) has 300hps instead of 175 or
    whatever. That is only one of the problem with 3.5. But because of it’s
    underlying agility, my group was able to craft characters that truely made
    each of us unique. After a while of grumbling over power-gaming changes,
    I got used to it and we started to adapt rules to incorporate the best of
    2nd ED into 3.5 and by so doing curbing the power-play to an extent.

    Then comes the 4th ED. I bought it right away. Seems that I fit with the
    disgruntled group on these rules. I am now (as of last satursday) trying
    for the 5th time to play it. After the session, the DM (which has played D&D
    even before I started it) came to me and said: “Is it just me or these combat
    rules are all too mechanical and complex ? We used to be able to grab a
    newbie and give him a fighter and he grasped the game slowly without fuss.
    Now our new player is lost with all these new “spells” we all have”.
    All I could say was: “I told you so… but I wanted your opinion on it”.

    Now our DM is willing to keep doing this small scenario he made, but with the
    ever increasing amount of Marks for “X” round (for each mark), my money is on
    going back to our 3.75 (as we call it) ruleset.

    IMHO, supplement material barred :

    2nd Edition won because it put little emphasis on stats and power-gaming feats
    and the likes, while still allowing some nice builds via multi classing.
    Even rolling a 15 on IQ didnt mean you where limited to 5th level spells
    non-sense, and nobody was a god in every saving throws (a difference of 6
    between weak/strong isn’t as marking as a cleric’s “vs Death” being 2 while
    some classes had difficulties getting under 10).

    3rd Edition won because it simplified saving throws, attack bonus, and
    balanced a lot of classes/races (especialy 3.5 on that). It also put mages on
    more even terms at highter level, but it needs DM tweaking of the rules some.

    4th Edition? My bet would be playing that for a non-campaign, with my country
    12yo (or less) cousins that never toutched Table-top RPGs. All I am missing are
    cards with powers hat they can just drop on the table when they use them, and
    it would be simplistic to an extend. To me this 4th Ed dosen’t feel like D&D
    but for a quick strategy tabletop war game, it’s actually pretty good. It’s
    just that if I would ever consider making a campaign, no way would I be
    putting with it. I loved it’s minion system and already started incorporating
    it in 3rd and 2nd edition games I run as a DM from time to time. I also like
    the Eladrin, which makes a nice +INT race to put into 3.5, but it’s not my
    favorite ruleset.

    Bottom line: for quick, nice, and disposable, go for the 4th edition rules.
    Hovever, for extended campaings ranging thru the levels, go for 3rd or 2nd ED.
    With few minor tweaks you have sturdy material to build your players on, and
    everyone will feel this “I am unique” which makes everyone happy.

    That is in my opinion, of course.
    Have a nice day all
    — Francois424

    • Little off topic from the main discussion, but I just wanted to comment. I do see where you are coming from in your preference to 2e, but I actually prefer the “every point counts” part of 3e. Well, every 2 points. EVERY point would be overkill, I agree.
      Anyway, it makes those smaller changes matter more and I didn’t really like how you could potentially have huge gaps in things like ability scores, and yet it didn’t really matter.

      Just a random, personal preference thing. As I said, I do understand your own preference. Just thought I’d explain mine.

      P.S. Also, I’ve always been wanting to incorporate aspects of older editions into my own games, but never could quite figure out how. Thanks for giving me an idea or two.

  142. Sorry for the formatting I did that in notepad and it went out like garbage on this site. Oh well

    — Francois424

  143. I had never played any version of D&D prior to joining a group playing 4th Edition about a year ago. I hate WOW and a lot of RPGs because they are so hard to immerse myself into. In short, I don’t find them very believable.

    I honestly thought that would be the case with D&D as well, considering that it is turn based (which always annoyed me in Final Fantasy and the like) and required dice rolls, etc.

    Yet when I started playing, and got into my character and interacted with the rest of the group in their character, I found it incredibly addicting.

    I have since joined another game and have had the same experiences.

    I am shocked to see the people, including the author of this post, talking about how little role playing or narrative story telling there is in this game compared to other editions. Now, I have never played other editions, so the story telling opportunities might in fact be better, but I would find that hard to imagine since our sessions are so strongly reliant on role playing and narrative. The story and the characters are what makes it so immersive.

    The fear that new gamers would come in and view it as just a fight based game, almost point and click, who do I hit and how much experience do I get after killing him, I suppose that there are people who do that, but that is not how I have experienced the game at all. In fact, my party generally tries to talk our way out of any fights if it is at all possible.

    I also don’t find it hard to get into my character and the world we are in completely (although I was sure when I started that such a thing would be impossible) despite the things that could possible take you out of realism such as turn based fighting, marks, encounter and daily limits and the like. Because the characters (the ones I play I created myself completely from the ground up and that certainly helps) and the story are so strong and worthy of investing in, I can easily accept the rules that allow me to join into this other world and play in the shoes of my character and in the world in which he inhabits.

    I don’t deny that many of you who have strong connections to past editions (or other games completely) will continue to prefer those games, but I also find it extremely hard to believe that 4e is going anywhere since all of the complaints that you seem to have or worries that you have regarding those that play it simply have no bearing on the reality that I’ve experienced.

    • Thats an “argument from ignorance” mate. If you haven’t played anything but 4E, then how can you know that 4E isn’t as stupid to roleplay in as we “the people who have extensively played both” are telling you. Your argument is the equivilant of a blind person trying to convince the sighted that Blue does not exist, because he’s never seen it.

      ” I also find it extremely hard to believe that 4e is going anywhere since all of the complaints that you seem to have or worries that you have regarding those that play it simply have no bearing on the reality that I’ve experienced”

      Because Blue doesn’t exist, because i can’t see it, so all the people who can see it are wrong, because i can’t see Blue. You see how stupid an argument that is.

      The fact is that 4E is on the outs… Its sales figures are so low that D&D at this very point in time is completely unmarketable. Yet Paizo’s Pathfinders sales are up. In fact in the last two fiscal quarters Paizo has been edging WotC out.

      So i’d say you are right, 4E is going no where, because there are very few people who give a shit about the product line.

    • Well, I’m happy that 4e has opened the doors to roleplaying for you. For all its flaws, it is certainly a more personal experience than WoW. But consider all these comments as feedback that there are a lot ofother RPGs, including all other versions of D&D, that are even more immersive and focus even more on character and story and less on the tactical combat. “If you like 4e, you’ll love them!”

      • Well said, mxy– As someone that now plays RPGs of all kinds (though mostly online unfortunately since I’ve had difficulty finding open-minded gamers in my area) someone being opened up to and enjoying rpgs in general is fantastic– however, it will be even better if instead of sticking to the game with which you start… if you allowed it to be a doorway, because there are so many games out there– other versions of D&D, other fantasy rpgs even dozens and dozens of rpgs in genres outside the realm of fantasy if maybe post-apocalypse, horror, sci-fi or any other various genres of game could be of interest.

  144. Pingback: Simplifying D&D (You know, for kids?) | Blackrice Bran

  145. lioness rampant

    Ok so here are my 2sp on 4e. One I skipped the middle 5th of the comeents because there are a whole bunch of them (what 3 years or something). Background info HS student with a really busy life (band, orchestra, theater, college search, AP classes etcetra) but for the past few years I have made time for D&D. I got about half a year of 3.5 and then it switched (which sucked because I had dropped $150 dollars on books and didn’t want to buy a whole new set) so I tried 4e by buying them on eay. There are pros and cons to it but I definatly prefer 3.5e. I had 3 major problems with 4e. 1) classes were ONLY for PCs, I don’t see why a 5th level human scythe fighter PC is any different than a 5th level human scythe fighter NPC. It makes it seem like anyone who isn’t a player is a monster no matter what the race. I liked orcs with class levels (memorable encounter with a orc bard masquerading as an elf in the capital of the elvish empire, great adventure)/ 2) whats up with the alignments? Good Characters can only be lawful or neutral?. And you can’t have LE people? Seriously the two axis have nothing to do with each other. 3) Casters have no variety, what happened to necromancy, illusiojn, and enchantment!!!! My beloved chaming sorcerers and bards are gone!!!! no longer can I suggest the orcs let me by without having to chop them to bits CG characters if I ever saw them!!!

    • Yeah, I totally agree with all your points, especially the PC being different from an NPC. “It makes it seem like anyone who isn’t a player is a monster no matter what the race” is a great way of putting it – it subtly signals “no soul here, don’t treat them like they’re a real person,” which is extremely corrosive to real role-playing. Glad to hear from the new generation of D&D players, keep on gaming!

    • I noticed that about the alignments, too! I always thought it was neat to have them as loose concepts at least… lawful evil is more like a cold-calculating individual… plotting and scheming… while chaotic evil just reigns terror and slaughters mercilessly– no thought required. And Chaotic good is so much more fun than just your average goody, goody… kind of the batman or Boondock Saints hero rather than a thoughtless drone– the laws of the land say THIS is right, so it must be right! (Even though the next land over disagrees)
      As being a player and a GM both, I like having npcs that were similar in ways to pcs, too… npcs can be people, too… better at some things than others and so-forth.

  146. I looked at the 4e monster manuals and other books with monsters in and could not find description of what the monster look like. The monsters to me in 4e are just a picture or two and that is it. The description that are missing would also tell you how tall and how much the monster weighed. The monster just seem just like they are just combat stats and abilities and nothing more. Also I have thought that some of the art of the monster is from the 3/3.5 edition.

  147. Wow! A three-year running discussion on the pros and cons.

    Even more amazing tho is all the haters out there who have spoken against nearly every positive post about 4th Edition with counter-arguments… Well… some have made an attempt to say they don’t hate the game. Rather, they’re thoroughly disinterested. That being the opposite of love and all. Disinterested enough to carry on a crusade for three years in an internet forum. I think that goes a little beyond disinterest.

    So what is it about 4E that can drive folks to argue so vehemently for so long, with people they’ll never know, about a game they’ll never play? Initially maybe – the dropping of the past connections… leaving out things like the Gnome, who made his grand entrance a book later, or the Psionicist who didn’t show up till book 3… But all that is history now. In perfectly good marketing fashion, Wizards held back just enough content to make those books something worth buying right? I don’t see a problem there…

    More likely tho, it’s just that some ppl just don’t like change. We had a game that was great… and believe me I played 2E more than most. In between running BBS’s and playing Nintendo, we had our niche game that 99% of the world either didn’t know about or wasn’t interested in. It was awesome! Some of the best times of my life…

    But let’s face it a game that 99% of the world is not interested in is not going to drive a company to make more. TSR was a niche company that had a niche market, at a time when it was cool to hang out in little downtown comic shops and oogle over the back of D&D modules, deciding which ones to get next. Nowadays selling like that is simply nonexistent. You have to compete with MMORPGs, video games, and even more advanced board games. Wizards needed to make this appealing to more than a tiny fraction of the world, or the cost of producing would simply not pay off.

    So why am I here? Well, we played 4E the other day. And as a result, I’m looking at buying the books… A friend bought the basic books and wow – what a blast from the past. Dug out my old stuff and we compared them to the 2E stuff. A few things jumped out! A few alignments were dropped. Gnomes were missing, but there were new Eladrin and Tieflings (kinda cool?) Fighters had spells. Armor class was inverted from Thaco minus Armor plus modifiers to hit, to just Armor plus modifiers.

    But, a few things seemed the same. Wizards still had Cantrips. Armor class was still there, tho now there were 3 kinds of armor class. Still used the same dice, and most of the same monsters.

    We gave it a try! My friend had perused the DMG, but never played 4E before. In about 2 hours, I was able to read the PHB enough to get a feel for how to play (given, I’d played 2E for many years, so many of the concepts were just a refresher and not a full on learning curve)… but after that, we were able to download character sheets and get started making characters. They built up pretty quick. Even with non D&D regulars… I was able to walk the other ppl thru the process, taking many of the recommended spells, etc. I was pretty happy with this.

    We got into playing then… the default campaign that came w the DM Box Kit. It was just a trial anyways. Went pretty smooth! At first picking trait scores didn’t quite click in as to their repurcussions, but then once you play your first 30 min, you quickly realize how Dex/Int factor toward your Reflex, etc. A very nice mechanic! So now a wizard who may be weak in physical defense will be high in intellectual defense. Warriors who are physically strong will be mentally weak. It exaggerates the tradeoffs which was great.

    Combat was totally new. The whole emphasis on the spacial instead of the imaginary. Not sure I like this part of it. Keep in mind I play Descent (RTL) too, and regularly… a game in which it’s all about combat tactics. D&D to me always seemed more imaginary. I think that’s my main dislike so far.

    I think part of the challenge is to *not* let the game become Descent. If your players tended to play 3E / 3.5E and wanted to min/max, then I think they missed the point of D&D. You shouldn’t be playing to optimize the dice by choosing silly proportions for your character, you should be playing to build a character and let the dice be what they are. The dice should be a physical representation of the probability that your character can hit… not your character be “whatever” it is cuz you chose some numbers that will make for optimal hitting. After all the relative strength is irrelevant… if you have a +4 damage or +2 damage from the start, your DM will just alter the difficulty so as to be a good fight for all. (at least a good DM should). So too in this game, if you let it just be like so many have said above… battle, cutscene… battle, cutscene… then you’ve failed to pick up on the motivaiton behind playing D&D at all.

    Which sort of amazes me, cuz those who claim the game is reduced to battles are also those who claim to be old school players. Why are you letting the game devolve so? I thought it played well. My wife asked me afterwards why I wasn’t actively helping them in the battle, and so I had to share some of how D&D is different from Descent… you’re not a unit trying to clear a level… you’re individual characters living in an environment. If you play it that way, then most of those arguments above against 4E really don’t seem to hold water. Once you’re on the battle map, do you play your character / personae, or do you play to optimize who you can give a +1 to? If you do the latter, then it’s not surprising you’ve found 4E less enjoyable. You never worried about things like that before. Why are you now, just cuz they gave you a mechanic whereby you can micromanage these effects?

    Like take some leader skill that gives players within 3 spaces a +1 attack or some otherwise techno-mumbo-jumbo ability. In the old days, this would just be Bless and it would apply to all your party. You can still make them that way. Grease doesn’t have to just give a defense bonus for a set turn… if you play it that way, you are reducing the game to an action being a token modifier, instead of something visual. Use your imagination… Grease can still do all the cool things it used to in 2E. But now it can ALSO do the more specific thing it says for board combat. In the past DM’s didn’t know how to deal w “how big is the grease spot?” “Can my other monsters just go around it?” “If a monster trips and a player kicks grease in his eyes, will he be temporarily blinded?” And so on… so the giving physical spaces to things like that are more to help a DM who couldn’t figure it out before… not to limit a DM who could deal with it.

    You should not feel limited by the specific writing on the abilities. I take those more as guides, to give you an idea of how big an area of effect might be (approximately). The DM should always have final say.

    This is not M:TG. The card / rule does not rule all. The DM does. If you are playing it as a RAW type game then I think again you’re missing the point.

    Other ppl complained about the Daily abilities being exhausted… Like a Fighter can do a whirlwind attack, but after he does, he’s too tired to do it again but he could do instead a backflip-double-twist spin attack. To this, I’d say again you’re just reading the rules and not using your imagination. Maybe the first time he used his attack, the land situation presented itself, and the 2nd time, it didn’t fit quite right, or the other ability fit better, or maybe your fighter just has an ego and wanted to fluorish his weapon with a different move to show off, or maybe the hot chick in the party wasn’t watching, so he didn’t want to bother w a fancy move. Imagination, folks! Quit looking at the rules as silly limiting stated requirements, and use your imagination.

    Thus I really don’t see why some ppl are arguing so hard against 4E. I’m by no means pro-it as I’ve only tried once, but it picked up really fast, and I don’t seem to have had a bad experience. I don’t feel I was as “confined to the grid” as others claim it is. I came out to the web just to get some opinions on it, and I was kinda floored by how much those who hate it have proactively spoken out against it for 3 years. I have to wonder if you are that incapable of making this work, what you’re doing playing D&D anyways. 🙂

  148. “Thus I really don’t see why some ppl are arguing so hard against 4E”

    Then you are strawmaning the real reasons we are not interested in it, as an intellectual property.

  149. Everybody here is butthurt because of change lol!


    Fucking grow up, stuff changes and you have to accept it! If you don’t like 4th Ed, play 3.5 or pathfinder, homerule stuff, whatever! Stop bitching about wizards changing the game.

  150. @Jeansl10: “Everybody here is butthurt because of change lol!”

    so i take it you didn’t actually read anything that was written. People aren’t ragging on it because its changed, they are ragging on it because the change was not accompanied by improvement. In fact the game has some giant errors in game theory that are excessively obvious to anyone who understands basic design theory.

    They essentially killed not just a game, but an entire franchise: Paizo over the last 2 years has equalled the sales on Pathfinder that WotC made on 4E (not including digital sales). At every step WotC has mad mistep after mistep from a business point of view: 4E was just the first mistep.

    • What’s extra fun about that: Paizo is largely advertised by reputation and word of mouth. I’m not sure I’ve seen more than one or two ads for their stuff – if any – on any of the gaming sites I frequent (not counting the ones specifically for Pathfinder).
      On the other hand, I challenge you to go to any gaming site and see if you can go more than 3 pages without seeing 4e advert.

      The fact that a company can equal – or even just thrive (I don’t know the figures, myself and am just going off of what you’ve said. I do know they’re doing very well, though.) in such an environment definitely says something.

  151. When you’re talking about RPG’s you should say “an rpg” not “a rpg”.

  152. Thank you for so neatly laying out the argument here. I was a regular player through 2ed, but then stopped playing for fifteen years so missed 3-3.5eds. Recently, some friends and I decided to start campaigning again and they wanted to playtest 4ed. So far, it’s been a disaster. I find the new modules more focused on monster outlines and battleground strategy and not so interesting on the plot, so I’ve been updating 1ed and 2ed modules (we’ve been running the U1-3 series to start with).

    The first thing I realized was exactly what you said, the WoWization of the game, and without a processor crunching the numbers, there’s just no way to keep track of what’s going on. I began to replace monsters with minions as a way of speeding up combat, but even then, any balanced battle between PCs and enemies comes out to an hour of nitpicking. As the players grow more comfortable with their stack of powers, feats, minor moves, major moves, move moves, etc., it’s sped up, but only to, say, 50 minutes per combat. It makes the game essentially unsustainable since one can’t get through the modules and the larger external game plot.

    Back in the old days, a group running into 3 lizard men (figure 2 hit dice) could clean them up in a few turns with some lucky rolling. Now it’s an accounting seminar. I’d love to switch off back to 2ed or even reboot with d20, which I’ve heard good things about, but with the monetary investment already in place, it seems like a waste.

    I have had some luck upgrading 1st and 2nd ed modules, but the problem comes in with magic items, of which few transferred.

    All in all, it’s a wash. I’m glad somebody’s taking them to task, but alas, it seems like my campaign’s stuck with it for the near future. (I mean, three saving throws against death?)

  153. There are so many things I dislike about 4e. I went to make an attempt at creating a 4e character because any face-to-face gamer in Tennessee now only plays 4e (it’s terrible) and every time I read a paragraph I had to stop and complain inwardly about how stupid everything is now.
    To me, Clerics and most spell-casters are nearly useless now. I’m not big on playing spell-casters, but it has always been neat to have the help of one such character– but now?
    Also, I may be odd about this particular thing but I don’t know if I like the healing surges either… it’s a bit much if you ask me… before, you carried stuff on your person or had a healer or both and at the end of the day, you rest. I was fine with that… NOW, a cleric might as well just be a fighter because adventurers of all kind miraculously heal after combat 8 times a day for 6hp like we’re all Wolverine! We don’t need a cleric anymore– we’re able to gain double our max hp worth in healing every day on our own and still be able to rest when all’s said and done.
    The “powers” also come across very MMORPG… At-wills are your two “basic” attacks, pretty much, this other power can only be used once every fight because it’s charging…. yada, yada… I remember when creativity was a big part of things on the player’s part– now a card tells you what most of your attacks are like and what is too cool to use more than once an encounter.
    And of course… the “squares” movement irks me a bit, too, as mentioned in the review… I remember you had the option of playing D&D straight up with pen, paper and imagination back in the day, if you tried that now… “The enemy is 3 squares away from you!” “How big are the squares and what are they doing in the forest?”
    And when I play an rpg, as has been said, I like the rp part of an rpg– otherwise it’s merely a game… but there is so much to know battle-wise and so little of anything devoted to the world outside of combat that the only rp you might get much of is if you intimidate a foe before you attack him… even then it’s like “Oh, how witty. I don’t know anything else about her, but good to know she’s witty and can use a blade– I suppose that justifies us traveling together.”
    One last thing before I bring it to a close– no skill points anymore? I like the idea of a character being better at some things than they are at others– it’s more realistic… but if you’re trained in something and you just get 5 and the mod for the skill and MAYBE a 1-2 point bonus on something… your skills are rarely more than a couple of points apart. So essentially, a rogue is almost as good at swimming as they are at thieving… Great, if I steal from someone with a moat now– I suppose this will come in handy…

  154. *of a NOT “if s” touchscreen phones… yeesh.

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  156. Great article and sums up this “grognards” complaints. Now with 5th on the way, will some of the 4ever people admit there must have been something wrong with the game. It didn’t bring in enough people to even offset those it tossed by the curb. WFRPG does the tactical RPG better, why try to compete with it. Warhammer has better fluff , but only because its terrible in 4th. Anyway it was nice to read some actual thought put into this as most criticism was deleted on many forums.

    I can say as someone who has played 4E al the way to epic on one occasion and to paragon many, that after almost 4 years I can say I have sampled it. In fact I have lost MANY characters. How might you ask? Because our DM liked to use some of his house rules from 3.5 and took away any sort of res. The biggest issue was by trying to make the game more situationist it literally ruins the game. How can every creature you fight, just happen to be carrying treasure, and not just a treasure package but the stuff you need to advance your feated out weapin/armour/implement. Yeah there are ways to houserule that, but I can tell you after not finding regular treasure (except looting my corpses from critcal hits,we had a chart for everything to making it a random die roll of damage to severing parts of you including your head) the people who stayed aliove were less able to attack and defend in the game. Even from a tactical combat side the game is broken if it has to be roleplayed in anyway.

    For starters our players in the epic campaign didn’t even min max their stats with 15’s as highs and 8’s for “flavour” In 4th edition, you pretty much just make sure you never hit that way regardless of class. Add to that the low treasure and by level 8 you are easily needing a 14 to just hit the bad guys. Some would say this is the DM’s fault. Yes and no. The problem lies in having all the mechanics so tied together for balance. You pull one string and everything else unravels. So you have to play exactly as the rules state, even if the change the rules a month after they come out and you may or may not apply them because they seam to change the balance of the established ruleset.

    I still play with our 4E group, but mostly because they are good gamers and its too much work for our DM(or myself) to do Rolemaster, or even 3.5 The only good thing in 4th is the ease of DMing compared to some systems. Dungeons and Dragons is still the big name in town when it comes to roleplaying, even if it doesn’t to roleplaying without an astrix.

    Cheers and lets hope 5th is better than 4th. I have a feeling it would be hard to be worse, but when it comes to money and WoTC you never can tell.

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  158. I am currently DMing a 4e group. They’re level 16 now and have been playing since Heroic Tier.

    We mostly run combat out of the book, although I give the guys points for creativity in combat (eg. they roll *just* too low to hit, but came up with a creative and fun way to carry out their turn so I let it slide every now and again, custom rules for spending action points so combat is more exciting and fun, things like that) and if they say that they want to attempt to push / pull / whatever a monster, I usually let them, even if the power doesn’t say they’re allowed to do that because, well… it’s supposed to be fun. We set a timer on the combat turns to keep things moving, and it’s considerably more exciting and fast-paced that way. I also created status cards for each status and the effects of it. One player is in charge of the cards, and when a monster or PC is affected by a status, they get the card put with their piece on the map to remind everyone that they’re prone for one turn or whatever the case may be.

    The way speed is handled is really lame (especially out of combat), and we just got too lazy to deal with it by the book. We created our own custom world and campaign, and we know how far it is to travel from point A to point B based off of that, and we just try and run it realistically without the speed restraints printed in 4e.

    Surprisingly, we’ve had some excellent non-combat encounters and great role playing situations while we’re not in combat. I think that much of making the best of 4e is how flexible your DM / players are willing to be. The group loves to have a generous mix of combat and quality exploration, and so I do my best to make exploration as interesting as possible. I’ve bent a lot of rules just for the sake of fun, and I often ask for input from the players as to how they think something will work best. I make up all of my campaigns because, frankly, the premade ones are crap. I find that more or less following the book rules while making any one-time or long-term adjustments as they make sense works the best with this rule set. Interesting puzzles and problem-solving that the players actually have to figure out for themselves (meaning not a simple “insight check” to “figure out” the answer – they’ve got to do the brain work themselves) also help to make varied and fun exploration.

    We’re not looking for tournament or sanctioned play, so consistent house rules work great in our case. Not the best situation, but I think it’s the best of the situation, if you know what I mean.

    Long-winded post, but just wanted to share my ways of making the most of 4e. =]

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  160. Just to chime in here…
    I’m fairly new to D&D. I played one campaign in 3.5 and felt overwhelmed by all of the “role playing” things I had to actually keep track of. I wanted something that felt a bit more lax. I got into 4e by starting up a new campaign with friends and I’m enjoying it a bit more. We don’t do *everything* by the book, and our DM is pretty open about us all playing the way we want. I seriously don’t think it’s as bad as the OP made it out to be. If you want the feeling of 3, then just play that. I think for newer people who want it to feel more like a game, 4e is where its at.

  161. Chiming in here a few years after release. It’s interesting to take a retrospective and compare.
    To address my own “cred” and background with D&D: I was introduced to 3.5e in middle school and learned the system from scratch, myself since I was the first in my group of friends to learn about the game. I checked out older versions and actually have the core AD&D books that I keep around, but while parts are interesting enough to regularly bring into my 3.5e campaigns, overall I found the mechanics either too simplistic or convoluted (lower AC is good, but you have to roll higher in order hit? I understand your pity). 3.5e had a fair amount that was complex (from grappling to the sheer number of official classes, feats, and so on), but also held a lot more functionality than earlier versions (skills are, for me, one of the game’s highlights).
    And then 4e went and threw all of that out of the window. Skills are too complicated (they do add quite a bit of time to character creation if nothing else)? We’ll just get rid of all the ones that can’t be used in combat. And a few that can, just for the hell of it. Players say the alignment system is broken? We’ll just hack that up, too (seriously that was one of the biggest WTF moments for me). It’s ironic that the goblin became Pathfinder’s mascot because 4e had a very goblin-esque mindset in its construction – if it looks at us funny, blow it up.
    From my own experience with real life game groups (and I’d like to add that since my first back in middle school which lasted for only a year, I have always been the new guy joining the group, not the DM running it) the one group that started with 4e converted to 3.5e without me doing any more than messing up and bringing my older books with me to our first meeting (well, my first with them. Their hundredth for all I know.) I even tried to avoid exposing them to it because I didn’t want them to have to learn a new system or feel like they wasted money on the 4e books. ^_^’ No, true story.
    4e was a commercial success, but I attribute it largely to marketing. Older systems were largely constrained to advertisements in gaming magazines and word of mouth, which limited their exposure to the populace. By the time 4e came around, the internet had solidified its place in daily life and the online ads alone could have been enough to inflate the game’s sales.

    After my initial rage with 4e, I was able to acknowledge that it has a few good points. Most of them were also done in Pathfinder, though so they get credit since it was done as improvements on the existing system rather than starting from scratch. I will admit that 4e makes a great base for a video game and in fact, I would genuinely love to see a real 4e RPG made, reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale (suitably updated, of course so more like KotOR and Dragon Age). …And not in Faerun. It’s a good setting and all, but done to death. Aside from DDO and a handful of novels EVERYTHING happens in Faerun. Give Eberron some more love. Or Dark Sun, since they’ve resurrected it.

    P.S. I’m amused to see that they’re already working on a new edition. I haven’t really made up my mind on it yet, but it isn’t better than Pathfinder and it would need to be a LOT better than that system in order to convert me back. Wizards has lost a lot – pretty much all of my faith in them.

  162. Reblogged this on Video Gamers and Modders Anonymous and commented:
    My recent experience with a certain game that will remain nameless (due to NDA restrictions) has led me to conclude that D&D 4e rules are the worst thing that’s ever happened to D&D, ever. Basically, I totally agree with everything this guy says.

  163. I agree that they did make some changes, and I won’t argue over the validity of your dislike for the combat style. I find giving people useful powers and such in combat very helpful, and i always felt combat as a major downfall of 3e, so I rather enjoy the pace of the combat here, everyone is useful, clerics and paladins don’t start as just warriors with rules, and so on. I disagree of the Roleplaying point however. from my experience, every group ran the roleplaying part differently, many not even according to the skills there. Most competent players have their own way to roleplay these things, so I think giving a sturdy (in my opinion) framework for the combat, which was always the hardest to personally rule but opening the roleplay with less useless, and more streamlined skills, is a good thing. What they’ve made (or attempted to) is a sturdier combat system with more freedom to play the other parts of the game as you wish. Veteran players of D&D already know how to do the roleplay part, so having 2 different skills with roughly the same effect (search and spot) and having only modifiers to saving throws removes the surprise of a trap. The moment you ask someone to make a spot or a reflex check, everyone starts searching. I agree, it feels far more like world of Warcraft, but I wouldn’t consider that a bad thing. I think it’s a bold evolution and, in my experience, it has turned out well.

  164. It’s sad. But this was a really well reasoned point of view when it was written, and it remains so five years later. It’s not a question of old vs new or one style vs another. It isn’t about spite directed at the company or personal disputes. In style and in substance, the business side and the creative side, regardless of why or how you play D&D, 4e is just a really bad game.

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  166. Well, I’m going to offer my opinion now, as I’ve read all of yours.

    I’m completely new to D&D. I have read the 4E books, and played twice, once as a player and once as a DM. Those were two of the best days of my life. Our group focused heavily on role-playing, but I never (neither as player nor as DM) felt limited by the range of skills or whatever.

    I have never played 3.5, so my opinion isn’t as informed as it might be, but it seems to me that 4E has split D&D into two sections: combat and role-playing. Combat is essentially a board-game: each player has a miniature on a grid and they use teamwork and strategy to fight monsters, also on the grid. During role-playing, the nearest you get to grids and sheets of paper is in a Skills Challenge. As a DM, I enjoyed throwing sudden skills checks at the players, but really role-playing was about telling a story. It was exhilarating just to see characters develop and relationships to form and change. As a player, it was always thrilling to push the borders of the DM’s world; as a DM, it was always thrilling to see how the players would react to my world and to each other.

    That is the draw of D&D for me. So far I love 4E. I don’t find it combat-heavy, because our group isn’t combat-heavy. Instead I find the combat easy to understand and quite interesting. Is it really so bad as many of you claim? I mean, all the gnomes and so on have been reintroduced, haven’t they?

    Anyway, if by the description of my style of play (i.e. role-playing intensive) you feel obliged to tell me that 3.5 would suit my purpose the better, please do so.

    • Eh, hard to get worked up about it now that they’re retiring 4e and playtesting D&D Next, which may or may not be good but at least corrects some of 4e’s more egregious mistakes.
      As you continue to play D&D, you might consider that role-playing and combat are not and should not be mutually exclusive, and that by treating combat “scenes” as board games it robs the game of a lot of its potential drama.

    • /facepalm.

      You enjoying your first attempt at attempt at roleplaying doesn’ty say anything about 4E as a system. Firstly you’ve not had enough experience to make an informed choice, but when your favourite part is something from outside of the system (in this case roleplaying), you can’t place the emphasis on the system.

      That’s like me stating that connect 4 is the best sex game in the world, because when I win my girlfriend gives me a blow job. That’s not a quality of the game, its something outside of the system.

      Heck you can roleplay in chess too, doesn’t make chess a good roleplaying game either

      • If you have trouble roleplaying in 4e the problem is with you, not the system. I’ve played every RPG under the sun since the early 80’s, so I’ve definitely had enough experience.

        Oh noes I actually have to use tactics and knowledge instead of playing “mother may I” and gaming the DM. There are far better Role Play games out there for the actual RP then D&D and sans 4e D&D is barely a game.

        Why this ill informed “waaaahhhh” pops up high on a search I don’t know.

  167. That seems fair enough. I did say that my opinion couldn’t be well-informed but that doesn’t make it invalid. It might have been nicer if you’d just said, have a go at 3.5 – it’s fun. 4E is clearly not so bad that we should all commit suicide. What I was saying was, I enjoyed it. Is that so stupid?

    Perhaps if you like 3.5 better, you should play 3.5. Although personally I think Connect 4 sounds pretty good.

  168. Adam, its not so much what 4E does well. ANd it does do some things well. Its what it removed from its past. Sometimes you here people say its more stripped down like 2nd edition. The problem with that is its also way more rules heavy for combat than second edition. 4E is all about the boardgame aspect of tactical wargames. The roleplaying aspect can be good or bad, but mostly has to do with your group of friends. The rules do nothing to help in this regard.

    Sometimes I have friends with nothing in diplomacy who are very eloquent in real life, change the mind of the king or a pirate captain or whatever, even when their character can’t. You should roleplay your stats, its the whole point of making a character, otherwise its storytime not roleplaying. Problem is the way they define the rules for roleplaying it leaves you too many options or none at all. I have a 15 in athletics. Guess what I can do everything athletic? If thats the case then just have skill rolls based on major stats like str like other games do. Why even ask if you are trained. Because swim and climb are apparently identical skills. This is a major flaw, but its for game speed and balance, and WOTC won’t even say thats true. Which of course infuriates roleplayers.

    They also tell you to generate stuff in your character background to describe skills not covered. Two problems with that. One some people build their backstory from the stats and skills(like I do) or let the character be mysterious. Either because they want to see the character develop as they play, or because they don’t want anyone to know they are secretly evil, or some weird backstory they don’t have fully formed.
    Second what happens if along the way you want your character to learn something not covered. Say learn fletching or play an instrument. OK the dm say yeah you made some arrows gratz, now go fight. But what if you are trying to win over the tavern or need some spare coin? HOw do you know how well you did, just toss the d20? If you really aren’t good at a skill, say playing the french horn, and roll a 19 you are still pretty crap at it even if its the best you have ever done. Certainly won’t earn your keep for the night, a common dungeon trope.

    I think DnD has a big problem by trying to be just too epic, like a vid game. Many of us like a little more grit than you always were, you currently are, and forever will be awesome. Sometimes the journey to awesome is much more rewarding than starting out that way. Epic removes the mundane, but the mundane its what makes a game realistic. Sure you don’t need to describe taking a dump, but sometimes going off to do your business can save you from the ambush your friends are about to have unleashed on them, maybe because you wondered from your post. Real life things aren’t always bad, but 4E makes it harder than it would be to simulate it anyway.

    For all those that say combat is so great, well it isn’t. Its great at certain levels. Others not so much. Grinding down brutes with at wills is so boring when you are level 16 and you are out of daily/encounters because of the last fight you had against what you thought was a boss. Then it becomes who has the better rolls over the next hour. Tactics go out the window at that point. SO there goes the big plus for 4E.

    I would recommend that despite enjoying 4E you try other systems. You may like them more. I introduced some 3.X players to Rolemaster(very long char gen process but very in depth game) and they loved the tweaking and variation you could do. Weapons mattered more because a hammer is great against heavy armour but sucks against guys in leather or robes. Classes are more general but have greater variation. Though 4E in the last couple of years has finally put out enough books to have some variation, it also cost an arm and a leg to get done what rolemaster or other systems do with far fewer books required.
    A lot more grit and realism and can be played in a low magic world. No need for treasure packages to make sure your guys keep up to the monsters. So when you do find a magic item it is a reward, not just a handout designed for your character to not fall behind.

    No matter what have fun and spread the word. I still play 4E because our DM likes the system, its easier for him. Sadly using the original broken rules as written in 2008. But we do play other games form time to time. This lets me realise how some of the other games are much more fun because they are in fact more streamlined or more in depth. DnD seems to want to do it all and doesn’t do well at anything.

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  171. 4E is complete trash, but there’s a problem WotC is trying to solve. The people who would play 1E D&D just don’t exist any more. At least not in the quantity that would make a company any money. Trust me, I’m one of them and I just don’t have RPG time any more. There are fifty trillion WoW players though, and they spend money like it doesn’t come out of their parents’ asses fast enough.

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  175. So 5e has been out for a year+ now and I didn’t like 4e so skipped it after a few games. I had plenty of boardgames to play which I thought did a better job than 4e (like Descent for example). However, I will have to give credit to 4e’s creature design philosophy now I have run 5e non-stop for 12 months+

    The creature in 4e are unique and thematic, while 5e are pretty mundane. 5e’s monster design philosophy suffers from the same issue 3e (and all its iterations) had which was shoehorning monsters in to the same rules as PCs. The most egregious issue is the spell casting monsters. Its not as bad as 3e but its weaker than 4e design.

    I ended up essentially reworking monsters to make them 5e conversion of 4e instead of the default stat blocks in the 5e MM. 4e monsters had a lot more flavour and work well when converted to 5e. And the spell casting monsters are a lot easier to run using a 4e philosophy. Long lists of spells are pointless when combat rarely goes more than 3 rounds.

  176. I’m trying to start a D&D 4e campaign, but after all this criticism, I want to make some house rules/make a variant of it. These are the things that I have compiled from everyone’s comments on different websites and reviews:

    -Less combat
    -No warforged/advanced technology
    -less wizard and warlock spells
    -higher minion HP, so they don’t die immediately
    -describing rooms in feet, not in squares
    -realistic exploits (rogue), cantrips (wizard), and evocations (warlock)
    -leveling up like in OD&D
    -no bull rushing with other classes
    -remove marking
    -use descriptions, not miniatures/tiles
    -make interactions with creatures open, not just fighting
    -Monsters also go to negative HP, and make them more realistic living creatures
    -have players describe their actions, not just rolling dice

    Any other additions/removals?

  177. So what do you think of v5?

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  180. would recommend that despite enjoying 4E you try other systems. You may like them more. I introduced some 3.X players to Rolemaster(very long char gen process but very in depth game) and they loved the tweaking and variation you could do. Weapons mattered more because a hammer is great against heavy armour but sucks against guys in leather or robes. Classes are more general but have greater variation. Though 4E in the last couple of years has finally put out enough books to have some variation, it also cost an arm and a leg to get done what rolemaster or other systems do with far fewer books required.
    A lot more grit and realism and can be played in a low magic world. No need for treasure packages to make sure your guys keep up to the monsters. So when you do find a magic item it is a reward, not just a handout designed for your character to not fall behind.

    No matter what have fun and spread the word. I still play 4E because our DM likes the system, its easier for him. Sadly using the original broken rules as written in 2008. But we do play other games form time to time. This lets me realise how some of the other games are much more fun because they are in fact more streamlined or more in depth. DnD seems to want to do it all and doesn’t do well at anything.

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  182. What a load of elitist bullshit. 4E is fantastic. Every complaint stems from lack of imagination and an unwarranted nostalgia for the bloated, inflexible rule systems from the past. I’ve never read or heard a complaint about 4E that isn’t nitpicky bullshit, or purely a personal failing to genuinely understand what role playing is.

    • “4E is fantastic”

      No it wasn’t. 4E was an attempt by WotC to turn D&D in to World of Warcraft. The end results other than the fact it utterly ruined the canon of every setting it adapted, was a mess of internally inconsistent rules, predicated on disassociated mechanics that themselves made no sense.

      And that’s before we even talk about the class system, or the failure of the magic system. The class system turned every character in to a fighter, a magic fighter, a healing fighter, a ranged fighter, but always a fighter.

      As for the magic system, you can’t put a magic system with long casting times & hugely expensive usage costs in to a game with a level locked treasure accumulation system. It meant that anyone stupid enough to waste a feat to gain the capability would essentially be rendering their future character less effective with every single usage of said feat. Not that you’d ever use the feat since the spell selection was completely useless.

      So I don’t know where you got this idea that 4E was more flexible than previous games, it wasn’t even as flexible as 2E, whose “Skills and Powers” rule set was it’s self not as flexible as 3E’s prestige class & feat system built right in to the base system.

      So congrats Ryan, today is the day you hear someone point out the actual flaws of 4E.

  183. I wasn’t a fan of 4e but the things they did right, I thought they did very well and still use them today:

    * A D&D specific pantheon.
    * A D&D setting which accommodated all the other settings in some manner (points of light setup).
    * The Nentir Vale as a mini-setting/adventure site is excellent as well.
    * Monster design was a lot more fun than 3e and 5e. The approach was imaginative even if I didn’t agree with the execution (a level 1 ghoul and a level 20 ghoul for example). I still use the 4e monster database when designing/converting monsters for 5e for inspiration.
    * Though I use theatre of the mind for combat when I do break out the minis my go-to source of maps and inspiration is 4e. Combat designs were tactically interesting.
    * Some the adventures are actually better designed than 5e ones. For example, the 4e Against the Giants is way more cohesive and has a more satisfying story than the 5e version. In fact, I converted and played that over the 5e one (combat, of course, had to be toned down).

  184. I loved 4th Edition when it came out and I love it now. I played from the 1983 Red Box onward and 4th Edition was the first edition (and so far the last) to do things I always wanted from D&D, such as work right out of the box, without needing the DM to balance things.

  185. It is nearly impossible to pretend you are there and not just be playing a board game.

    • For you. What breaks immersion for others, many others, is when basic game options consist of incredibly good choices (like clerics and druids) and incredibly bad options (like fighters and monks) offered as if they were somehow equal.

      My 4th Edition games are nothing like boardgames. If yours are – assuming you’ve made an actual effort to try it and aren’t just parroting a decade-old canard – then that’s a shame, but it has far more to do with your approach than the nature of the game and you’re overlooking huge amounts of improvements on decades of poor design.

  186. Pingback: A Rant on Pathfinder – Worlds of Nations

  187. Couldn’t agree with you more on this point, my friend! 4E was total garbage!

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