Mike Mearls Admits D&D 4e Blows

The Escapist has quite a roundup of D&D articles this week, spurred by the D&D Essentials “Red Box” release.

The most notable is this interview with D&D R&D Group Manager Mike Mearls.  In it, he acknowledges that 4e turned out a lot of previous D&D fans – “Look, no one at Wizards ever woke up one day and said ‘Let’s get rid of all of our fans and replace them.’ That was never the intent.”  But it’s an implicit acknowledgment that that’s what happened.  They also discuss the mechanics of 4e being too dissociated from reality and making it very difficult to immerse with it.  None of this surprises me, because it’s exactly what I said about 4e when it came out:

Though I’ve bagged on Mearls for some of the 4e design decisions, I had heard he’d been playing around with older school D&D and he appears to have gotten an understanding of the major lacks of 4e and how to get it back on track as really being D&D again.  Wait, here, let him tell you…

“If you are a disgruntled D&D fan, there’s nothing I can say to you that undoes whatever happened two years ago or a year ago that made you disgruntled – but what I can do, what’s within my power, is that going forward, I can make products, I can design game material, I can listen to what you’re saying, and I can do what I can do with design to make you happy again; to get back to that core of what makes D&D, D&D; to what made people fall in love with it the first time, whether it was the Red Box in ’83, the original three booklets back in ’74 or ’75 or even 3rd Edition in 2004, whenever that happened, to get back to what drew you into D&D in the first place and give that back to you.”

So congrats to Mearls and props for admitting that 4e had gone outside the lines of what many of us wanted in D&D, and that they’re actively going to try to do something about it.  Good news for 5e!

And that’s really what I wanted.  My critique of 4e hasn’t been “edition war for the sake of edition war” or general grousing – I knew that if people said loudly and clearly what they wanted out of D&D, that eventually someone would listen (changes of the guard happen frequently over at ol’ WotC).  It’s all about wanting D&D to return to a game someone can use to simulate a game world and immerse in a character, without being tossed out into board-game mode.

All the 4e lovers are in a tizzy over it, claiming that the article must be a wildly biased hackjob because no one could ever admit any flaws in 4e, but they’ll get over it, as they lap up whatever Wizards does without discretion.  So, it’s a win-win.

It may be too early to roll out the “Mission Accomplished” banner, but it seems we have the terrorists on the run!  And that’s why Mike Mearls is my…

Alpha Dog Of The Week

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41 responses to “Mike Mearls Admits D&D 4e Blows

  1. “… but what I can do, what’s within my power, is that going forward, I can make products, I can design game material, I can listen to what you’re saying, and I can do what I can do with design to make you happy again…”

    So, does this mean he’s going to go work for Paizo?

    Or that WOTC is going to write Pathfinder books now?

    Because at this point, those of us who were unhappy with 4e’s “Fuck backwards compatibility” attitude have since moved on with a game that listened to us and gave us what we wanted, and there is no reason at all to go back to D&D.

    I said it back in 2008, and it is still true: the real disaster of 4e was not changed game mechanics, it was the PR debacle that told thousands of D&D fans that we were neither wanted nor needed. We took the hint and we left to play Pathfinder.

    Leave us alone, Mike. This smells like a 3am booty call from a drunken ex begging us to come back after the cheap floozy you dumped us for broke your heart and emptied your wallet. But we are in a nice, committed relationship with another game that will never give us up, let us down, or turn around and desert us like WOTC did.

  2. “implicit acknowledgment that that’s what happened.”

    Actually, I took it as a nod at the conspiracy theorists out there that claim that is what WOTC did with their 4E planning… but I’m not anti-4e so I probably read his statements different than you do.

    3E did the same thing 4E did when it came out. They changed the game, said “We do it better now” and wanted everyone to get on board. People seem to forget or gloss over that. And amusing imagery aside, it’s less booty call than it is running into an ex in the street and saying “Hey, we haven’t talked in a while. I know some shit went down, and I’m not asking you to forget what went down but I’ve learned some things so if you ever want to talk… gimme a call.”

    • That’s a false comparison that is only compelling to anyone who wasn’t around when 3e launched. I was there for the 2e and 3e launches. I wonder why I uptook those new versions happily and not 4e? Must be because I’m “Afraid of Change!” No, it’s because with earlier versions they:
      1. Did not engage in the same amount of bagging on earlier versions or telling us that previous versions certainly weren’t fun
      2. Did not fundamentally break conceptual compatibility – you could actually upgrade characters/monsters/etc from 1e to 2e to 3e without just taking the name and general demeanor back to a blank sheet of paper
      3. Evolved the game in a way that actually made it better, as opposed to their marketing machine just declaring it so with no reason

      • 1. Did not engage in the same amount of bagging on earlier versions or telling us that previous versions certainly weren’t fun

        This is true.

        When the “interview with a red dragon” animation came out, it was the breaking point where I said “Not interested anymore, thanks.”

        I just read through the 4e thread on my tabletop group’s forum. It was depressing to notice how we went from enthusiasm to reserved curiosity to bafflement (lots of rules were dealbreakers to us) and finally nobody was interested anymore.

      • “1. Did not engage in the same amount of bagging on earlier versions or telling us that previous versions certainly weren’t fun”

        Where you at the GenCon release of 3E? If so I guess we can just say that we walked away with different memories of how the 3E designers talked about the flaws of previous games.

        As for point 2… I’ll grant that converting PCs into 4E from other editions is troublesome, but I don’t think converting into 3.x from older editions is super easy either. Easier yes, but it still takes work.

        And for 3… that’s largely a matter of opinion, really. I think they did evolve it better. Its by no means perfect, but on the whole I like 4E. And yeah, I’ve played every edition since the original red box, and I ran multiple year long 3x game, and just wrapped up a story arc in a Pathfinder game I started from their Alpha doc. And I’ll point out that I never said (and I don’t think I even implied) you don’t like 4E cause “you don’t like change”, you don’t like it for whatever your reasons are. I’m not trying to convert you, I’m just tired of how all this stuff gets spun as anything negative about 4E becomes proof of how it’s failing/sucks and anything positive is just fanboy spin.

        Of the two groups I play with one went from disliking the concept of 4E to enjoying it and as the GM of that group said “This is most fun I’ve ever had running a game”. The other was mostly neutral, still has a few reservations about it but enjoys playing it to the point that we’re going to do a test run of converting my Pathfinder game into 4E whenever I get around to picking it back up. The owner of the local game store says he gets good turn out for the Game Day and Encounter events he hosts, and the buzz he hears is fairly positive about 4E. I don’t claim to know the market health for DnD, but I don’t think it’s quite so dire.

        • Where was I? At Gen Con, running 3E. I had a galley proof since I was a Living Greyhawk Triad and had to prep to run games Day One.

          I loved 2e, ran long, long campaigns with it, but they never pissed me off by saying “Oh, 2e sucked, here you only want 3e now, all right thinking people do.” Didn’t have to, as it was compelling in and of itself. But I would have been unhappy if they had gone on about how bad 2e was, and they didn’t – maybe one of your buddies did, but not any official or marketing communication from WotC. All the 4e defenders claim that happened with previous versions as it’s hard to verify that claim, but I was there in the thick of it and there wasn’t any of that.

          • “All the 4e defenders claim that happened with previous versions as it’s hard to verify that claim, but I was there in the thick of it and there wasn’t any of that.”

            Interesting how different our impressions of that time period are. I found the “No THACO!” style advertising as decidedly anti-2E… and it’s not like I was playing 2E and felt protective of it, 3E actually got me to come back and give the game another shot after a multi-year long hiatus. Hmm, perhaps since my own opinion of 2e was negative and I agreed with the 3e advertising it seemed more negative than it was. That’s possible. And I suppose my currently mixed feelings towards 3E and Pathfinder could explain why I don’t really get people’s reactions to 4E.

    • Talk about revisionist history. 3E was embraced because it did what 2E did….built upon what came before. Instead of your character just can’t do certain things. …like mages wearing armor and wielding two handed swords, you could but there are consequences…consequences with some basis in logic and common sense.

  3. “Leave us alone, Mike. This smells like a 3am booty call from a drunken ex begging us to come back after the cheap floozy you dumped us for broke your heart and emptied your wallet. But we are in a nice, committed relationship with another game that will never give us up, let us down, or turn around and desert us like WOTC did.”

    That’s great imagery. You mind if I steal that?
    While I don’t exactly agree with it, I do admit that WotC’s attitude in the past does kind of make it feel that way.

    “3E did the same thing 4E did when it came out. They changed the game, said “We do it better now” and wanted everyone to get on board.”

    As a 3e fan who started gaming with D&D/AD&D back in the day, I never got that “F- you guys” feeling from WotC when 3e came out. Pretty much everyone of the D&D players I knew at the time were not against 3e at all. I know there were some out there, but not in my group.
    3e was different that 2e, but there was still a lot of the same “feel” about the game. In a way it almost seemed to be “cleaned up”. I know given the increase in rules that came with 3e that is kind of a odd thing to say, but that’s what it felt like. It just wasn’t as bloated or difficult to deal with as 2e had become.
    Even though we had issues with WotC’s attitude towards fans, we still gave 4e a go. While no one said that the system sucked or that they hated it, everyone of my players asked to go back to 3e (before Pathfinder came out) or to switch to a completely different system. Where 3e had a “cleaned up” and shiny feeling compared to 2e, 4e just felt sterile to us.
    The books were pretty and I find myself wanting to like the game, it is D&D after all, but I just don’t. Even reading the books feels kind of bland.

  4. That interview actually got me to like Mearls again and the new basic set has gotten me to give 4e another look. It does seem like they realize that they went too far with 4e and are now try to reel it back in. I’ll soon see how well they’ve done as I’m set to play in a new essentials 4e campaign next month.

  5. <>
    This is the greatest quote I have read in a while. LOL! It is hard for me to feel bad for Mike and WOTC over the bad decisions they made. Don’t kill the golden goose.

  6. “It’s all about wanting D&D to return to a game someone can use to simulate a game world and immerse in a character, without being tossed out into board-game mode.”

    I find this statement to be fairly odd, since there are tons of game systems out there that aren’t D&D 3.x (or other previous versions), and folks have been creating detailed and immersive characters and have managed to simulate a game world. And I’ve seen it happen in 4E as well. Are “old school” D&D gamers incapable of role-playing in systems that don’t use THAC0?

    I’m sorry, but having been a D&D player and GM since 1978, and having played all the editions, I find nothing in 4E that should prevent Players from creating any sort of Character they want and role-playing it to the hilt. Good role-players can role-play and immerse themselves in any system, if they really want to. I think alot of “old school” D&D gamers just simply don’t want to change, and feel abandoned by WotC. The “jilted lover” syndrome is kinda sad, but understandable I guess.

    And for the record, Red Box 4E is pretty much the same as traditional 4E but with a few new class “builds” that might be appealing to the old guard holding onto the 3.5 redoubt. But it is still 4E… regardless of how the article spins Mike Mearls quotes to make him sound as though he capitulated.

    • An experienced role-player can certainly roleplay in 4e, and work around the parts of its ruleset that militate against it.

      However, new gamers get taught to be board game players, and roleplay and sim may never even occur to them given 4e as written. It does not set them out as a goal and has mechanics that work against it. By poisoning new players, it then creates an entire hobby environment where roleplaying is the exception not the norm. I read a great post from Uncle Bear about going to run 4e but “roleplay style” at a con and the confused players ran off in confused disgust. “He isn’t using a battlemat! And he tried to get me to think like some real medieval wizard! Back to WoW!”

  7. I find nothing in 4E that should prevent Players from creating any sort of Character they want and role-playing it to the hilt

    I want to create a spellcaster with no offensive spells.

    Oops.

  8. “I want to create a spellcaster with no offensive spells.”

    I’ll grant you playing a non-combatant in 4E is pretty non-rewarding experience. You’d need to have someone purely focused on Ritual spells… which yeah, the rules don’t really support. But I’m curious… does that come up often? To me it’s like saying you want to play a file clerk when the GM shows up with Top Secret. Sure those people exist in the game world, but it’s not really the focus of the PC experience…

  9. While not necessarily an arcane caster, a tactical warlord provides not only healing support but changes the tides of battle without ever striking a blow himself by “supporting” and bolstering his teammates. Sounds like they have a class for that.

    But if you’re looking for a spellcaster that has to leaf through a six page spell list of non-damaging buff spells every turn to see which one is most appropriate to try and save their party, well then maybe 4E isn’t for you. But then again, if I was playing old school D&D with an obsessive pacifist that refused to hurl a damaging spell to save his comrades, I’d be looking for a new team mate… assuming I survived the encounter.

    • But if you’re looking for a spellcaster that has to leaf through a six page spell list of non-damaging buff spells every turn to see which one is most appropriate to try and save their party, well then maybe 4E isn’t for you. But then again, if I was playing old school D&D with an obsessive pacifist that refused to hurl a damaging spell to save his comrades, I’d be looking for a new team mate… assuming I survived the encounter.

      Sigh. Which isn’t what I said. But well done anyway.

      • Come on man, don’t you know that wanting to have any options other than blast things means you’re a socialist pacifist grognard storygamer? 4e boosters: the Tea Party of the RPG world.

        • It does seem like it, yes.

        • The Tea Party? I’m sorry, the Tea Party, if you actually follow the news, wants to return to traditional ways and has shown a pathologically irrational fear of change. So again which camp in the Edition Wars sounds more like that?

          kelvingreen said, “I want to create a spellcaster with no offensive spells.”

          It sounds like he’s trying to role-play a non-damaging caster to me, and while perhaps not a pacifist, he probably won’t be very effective. But let’s face it, in older editions, that Character would provide little help to his team, unless he was the Cleric, and just stocked buffs and healing spells. Which makes for a pretty one-dimensional play experience. But hey, people can role-play whatever they want.

          And the 4E example I cited is still valid. A Tac-Lord or Tactical Build Warlord is far more efficacious in combat using his powers to augment and bolster his allies, and even granting them extra attacks in place of his own. So again, in 4E, you can play a Character with no offensive spells.

          • So again, in 4E, you can play a Character with no offensive spells
            Yes you can. For example, a fighter. Or a barbarian. But I specified a spellcaster, so no, your example is not valid.

  10. I do have to say, I was planning to boycott the new Red Box even though I thought it might be neat to get for my daughter, but I didn’t want to introduce her to RPing via 4e wrongheadedness. But this makes me feel better that maybe it’s enough of a step back in the right direction that I could get it for her (sounds like they’ve been backpedaling in other subsequent 4e releases and trying to reintroduce more sim and RP too).

  11. The complete, unexpurgated interview with Mearls is up! For those who believe that the Escapist hack-jobbed his comments into saying something he didn’t.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/writersroom/8115-Complete-Mike-Mearls-D-D-4th-Edition-Essentials-Interview

  12. After two years of play on 4e our group found that too many players just focused on ‘what power should I use next?’ and there was little time in a four hour session for out of combat activities. We just recently gave up and went to Moldvay Basic D&D. If anything I thank 4e for breaking the 3e death grip on gaming. For the record I’d never dream of playing 3e or PF ever again.

    I still like the framework they built for 4e, but the way they used it to build classes just doesn’t work for me. Essentials looks better as it makes the classes more archetypes and less just a collection of power effects. Maybe we’ll give it a try when DMing rotates back to me.

    • After two years of play on 4e our group found that too many players just focused on ‘what power should I use next?’ and there was little time in a four hour session for out of combat activities.

      Exactly my experience. Our group has moved to Pathfinder, mainly because the GM flat out refuses to play an “old” system, and Paizo’s game ticks both the “New” and “D&D” boxes. It’s still a bit too crunchy to be a favourite, but I like it quite a bit more than I expected –having been out of gaming for the lifespan of D&D3— and it’s much more fun to play than D&D4 was.

  13. One of the things that baffles me about the 4E fans is this: If D&D prior to 4E was so sub-par why did you play D&D? There were literally hundreds of other options available to you. Yet the WotC marketing geniuses chose to change D&D to suit the people that didn’t seem to like D&D to begin with. I simply can’t wrap my head around that…

    • @Tetsubo – First of all, I can’t speak for all 4E fans, but I never claimed that D&D prior to 4E was sub-par. I enjoyed D&D for many years, and I tried several other fantasy role-playing systems – MERP, Runequest, Tunnels & Trolls… heck I even tried making up my own Fantasy system under the Hero/Champions system. But none of them were as satisfying as D&D was, and I always returned to it.

      But 4E isn’t designed to pander to a crowd that does not like D&D. Older editions had some fundamental flaws that were never addressed. And 4E simply tried a new approach to resolving some of those issues, and succeeded.

      For instance, the disparity between spell-casting and melee classes is a prime example. At low levels, melee classes dominate, while caster classes hide in their shadow and hope they survive. Then as levels increase, the roles reverse, to the point where the damage and utility functions of a melee class becomes almost insignificant compared to the damage and utilities of a caster class. That’s a pretty significant issue. And 4E fixed that – Everyone has (relatively) the same number of powers, regardless of class.

      And I still fail to understand the simulationist argument. How can people claims that D&D 3.x and previous editions have a better way of “simulating” a ficticious made-up fantasy magic system? And honestly, the melee combat in 4E does a pretty cool job at simulating the dance of swordplay as one might expect to see in the movies. And isn’t that what alot more like what a gamer imagines when they play D&D? Combats like they have seen in LotR or Princess Bride or Pirates of the Carribean?

      I don’t hate older editions and have many fond memories of entertaining friends DMing to them in AD&D, 2nd Ed, 3rd Ed, and 3.5. D&D 4E is simply a new vehicle to drive you and your friends out to have a good time. Some people like SUVs, some people love pickup trucks, and some people love station wagons. They can all get you and your friends to where they want to go, it’s just a matter of style and personal taste.

      • Simulation is about trying to simulate a consistent world, and the dissociated mechanics like “marking” have no in world analogue and therefore are strictly a “because I said so” board game mechanic, which has no place in a simulated world.

        And 4e simulates cinematic combat? Good Lord. There are games that do (Feng Shui, by Robin Laws, for example). But obsessively moving minis on squares on a mat, marking and sliding, and putting little status effects on each other simulates combat in those movies you mentioned not in any way at all. Or maybe I’m forgetting the 4 hour long slogs of attrition in those movies.

        • I was totally going to avoid this thread, since I hate the back and forth of 4E haters and 4E supporters, but marking has the real-world simulation of a dude with an axe is 4 ft away from you and swinging it at your head. Pay attention to him and don’t just take the attack of opportunity and keep shooting at the wizard. In the real world, the dude with the axe will at least distract you enough to make you waiver in your conviction to kill the wizard since you’re thinking “Damn, that axe looks big”, not “Must kill wizard”. That’s enough for -2 to hit the wizard in my opinion, which is all marking is.

          • Well, the problem is that’s a marking use case that makes sense. However, you can just as easily have “that little guy over there marked me and now I’m having problems with the big guy with an axe who’s all over me.”
            And marking is used for 100 other things than just a penalty to hit – marked people take damage, are damaged more easily, damage random opponents less, etc.
            In “real” D&D sure, maybe you could intimidate an adjacent opponent so that they would take penalties hitting someone other than you. But they took the extra step into making it an arbitrary generalized board-game designator and took it to the bad place.

          • Actually marking is only the -2 to attack. It’s on page 278 of the PHB under “Crap that affects you”. They have Hunter’s Quarry and Curses and a boat-load of other things that do stuff like what you described, but marking is just the straight up -2.

  14. Boycott the blasted essentials-red box! If 4e is flawed and they know it, as Mike Mearls points out, then we don’t need a revamped 4e, we need a new edition!
    Also i can’t help but wonder why WOTC “suddenly” remembered all the old timers after neglecting them for 2+years. Guess what, 4e isn’t a commercial hit and the only way to make it one is to bring back most of the guys who left the D&D bandwagon with the advent of 4e.
    Don’t deceive yourselves, the Red Box is not targetting new players, the design reminds me of the 80’s and it won’t attract newbies. OTOH old timers will be tempted…

    Essentials is too little, too late. Had they printed it 1,5 years ago when Pathfinder was in its infancy and the gaming community was fragmented, it would be a godsend. Nowdays there are too many game systems that do better than the 4e travesty, like PF and Fantacycraft. And people playing them are happy and won’t return to a part time roleplay game-full time wargame.

    You can do better WOTC, we might come back, all we need is a new edition!

  15. Mike Merals is a book salesperson. He is saying what he feels will best sell this new edition. Just like WOC trash-talked 3.5 at the time of the 4E release, now he is trash talking 4E to sell Essentials. You should feel as vindicated as if you were told by a used car salesman a few years ago how bad Chevys were when he was trying to sell you a Ford and now is telling you how bad Fords are when he is trying to sell you a Chevy.

  16. benensky: I don’t like salespeople. For this very reason. Their loyalty goes to the highest bidder. I prefer dealing with people that have actual integrity. If Mearls is just just a shill (which I have no proof is true), then I want nothing to do with him or his product. Make a good product, tell people about it, if it sells, Bravo! But don’t lie to sell it. Don’t ‘sell’ it at all. Just make a good product. A good product will sell itself.

    Though I don’t really have a dog in this whole Essentials fight. You couldn’t pay me to play it or 4E.

  17. I run 4E. I admit it. I’ve run it since July of 2008 and am still running it every Sunday at my house. My friends like it (or at least like my DMing). My dislike of 3.X E rules moved me away from Pathfinder and my players play more confidently in this system than in any other. The guy who plays the warforged ranger in my group also runs the Tuesday gaming group that I’m part of and is running a modified old school campaign with every rule he can look up, just to see how it’s worked out. In 4E, we’ve never had a discussion of how we’re so bashed up that we can’t possibly do anything until we’ve rested 10 days and by then we’ll be out of food. In our old school game, that’s par for the course. It may make it more harrowing, you may feel that it brings in more role play, but it makes me feel way less heroic and more like a bumbling idiot in armor, a bumbling fighter-thief in studded leather who can’t do anything thief-like other than backstab because I’m not wearing just armour.

    That’s not to say the players don’t have close calls, negative hit points, etc. in my 4E game, but the surges and healing are so much more fluid and useful that we don’t spend the time between fights arguing about whether to move forward. We can spend the downtime moving forward or actually role playing, not just bickering.

    To each their own and all that. I’ve played 3 editions of D&D, perused the Pathfinder rules and am sticking with 4E. If others want to stick with 3.X or Pathfinder, 2E, 1E or original red box, go nuts. Play what you like and enjoy yourselves.

    Mike Mearls’ interview? Whatever. If he sees flaws in 4E, maybe that will inform 5E in the future. Good. But if you asked a 3E developer two years after it had been released, they were saying the same thing. In fact, it was more like “We’re working on 3.5! Have hope that balance issues will be solved”. So we’re getting the same with 4E. Colour me surprised.

    • Of course, and no one is claiming 3.5e is perfect or doesn’t need work. It’s just that 4e needs work before many, many D&D players consider it acceptable to play at all. Wizards created this whole needless schism in the community by a) trying to kill open gaming and going back to a completely closed model and b) coming out with a game that put balance and rules above the fun of role-playing. Their arrogance in the concept and execution of all that meant that further, they were unlikely to make any changes based on customer feedback. We’re happy since this is the first time they’ve shown signs of realizing that and doing anything other than shouting their “WE SHIT GOLD SO EAT IT” party line.

      • Agreed on the open-gaming and the closed atmosphere of WotC. You know I don’t agree on the balance and rules above the fun of role-playing. Balance and rules can exist with good RP. I was talking to a friend of mine (my Tuesday night DM) about it and I totally agree that the descriptions for the powers in the 4E PHB suck. They do, I like 4E, but he’s utterly right. But what the powers do and how they affect the game, both in and out of combat, can be very cool and if players are encouraged to figure out their own descriptions of what their characters just did, you get interaction and engagement that really draw people in. I read the abilities that rogues get in 4E and wish someone else was DMing so I could play one. I read books for 4E and think of all the characters that I’m inspired to play because of the cool things they can do. And some classes, like the ones in the PHB2, really make me think in terms of roleplaying and how I would incorporate, say, the philosophy of an avenger with an adventuring group or how a druid feels as a natural shapeshifter or how a warden experiences the aspects of nature that manifest in them during combat.

        These are the things I think everytime I hear about how 4E has trampled on roleplaying and it seriously makes me twitch. I see how my players’ characters have evolved by the simple rule of retraining and how that informs what they do as characters and I think that a heavy-handed DM in any other edition would say no to that simple concept since it wasn’t in the rules (those DMs do exist, I’m just lucky I don’t hang with anyone like that).

        I get that a lot of people are angry with the edition. I get that a lot of it is due to WotC mishandling virtually everything they touch. But if you just dig the hobby and don’t generally deal with anything about the hobby other than hanging with friends and playing (or running) a fun game, 4E isn’t any worse than any other iteration of the game out there. For every old school redbox fan-nerd out there who hates 4E and thinks it ruined the hobby, I can find one who thought the same about 3E. And that’s the crux of the matter. People get caught up in OGL and WotC firings and how WotC’s disrespecting them by thowing the baby out with the bathwater and whatever and …. it’s just all talk. I get that it affects people, but I’m personally worried about whether I like the material produced and if it’s fun for my players. That’s all. So far that’s worked. It may seem self-centred to only really care about me and mine, but a lot of rhetoric coming from all sides is very much about how people are personally insulted by decisions that a company made (or by the decision of some fans to go elsewhere, as is their right) and that’s equally self-centred. That’s why I don’t throw this all at WotC’s feet. Sure, they’re in the thick of it, but it’s all the hurt that people feel about this stuff that’s propagating this schism, not just them. It’s like people screaming about how Michael Bay raped their childhood with the Transformers movies. Sure, the second one sucked while making tons of money. It doesn’t mean that I want to murder the guy, I just won’t see any more movies he makes. Done and done. I don’t have to go on and on and on about it like some people do with WotC. If you don’t like their decisions and direction, go with Paizo (as many have) or any number of other companies. But I hear over and over about how evil and vile and terrible WotC is (and mxyzplk, I’m not pointing fingers, just so you know) and I don’t buy it. And Mike Mearls eating a little crow over WotC’s handling of its former fans is hopefully part of the healing process, either for people to look to D&D in the future or at least stop all the bashing on every side.

        On a totally different (and less confrontational) note, once my player’s hit 11th level, I’m trying out a modified Star Wars Saga edition-based-game that will be a cyberpunk game. So far everything’s either straight from Saga edition or homebrew and the setting is 2113 on Earth. I think I got a realistic setting that should engage the players. Guess we’ll see.

        Sorry for the long reply.

  18. The problem I have with 4e (and I like the system, as a system) is that the books are just dictionaries of lists of powers. Character gen USED to be one chapter in any rule book and there was still lots for everyone to read. Now, a book from WOTC is like a dictionary; lists of powers and their descriptions, traps and their descriptions. Pick one class and a good third of the book is useless to you. You might not have had a spell-user in older systems but it was worth knowing the spells so you know what a character could face. No need for that now. So many classes, so many powers and more with every book that is released. Who can learn it all? Who would want to read lists of new powers all the time. I’m coming back more and more to 4e since they added more fluff. I’d have liked to see Nentir Vale get it’s own book, for example. Pathfinder scores AND wins on all the sourcebooks, worldbooks, companions etc, etc, that it provides. Lots of great stuff that you can go back and read and reread. I buy a 4e book, it looks pretty on my shelf. I buy a Pathfinder book and you’ll find me reading it cover to cover on the train. Same goes for 2e and 3e. I don’t care what I’m told, going PDF on Dragon and Dungeon was a mistake. Pathfinder Adventure Paths (all set in the same world that you can explore) land on my doorstep every month. I subscribe at approx 20 dollars a month. I won’t pay even 7 dollars a month for a PDF, no matter what’s in it; it doesn’t appeal to my hoarding nature. WOTC…give me worlds to explore and run my games in (not just one worldbook for Forgotten Realms listing powers you can have for coming from there and then nothing else). Heck, I loved 2e especially because of all the Forgotten Realm source-books. I had nearly them all and STILL have my favourites on my bookshelves 20 years later! D&D ISN’T a system, any system, it was, for me, all the new worlds to explore.

  19. Exactly D&D is not a system, so for me 4e doesn’t betray me, it’s different it has a lot of powers (like the thousand of books you had on 3e, and you’d never know what to use or what to expect) many options, perhaps it’s mainly focused on roles (defender, striker, leader, controller) but I feel that my character it’s not an stereotype, I can have many different construction for a fighter in 1st level, change over time and still feel that is different to other fighters I role with, perhaps as a Wizard I cannot have now my 200 pages of spells I can use, but finally I will have my special list of special spells, hey in 4e I do with a short list of powers, but still have choices to make, I even could see what spell I could use from a list of known spells without hoping that I have studied that one the night before. Perhaps it’s not realistic that fighters, rangers, rogues, etc, have dailies in 4e, but be honest how much realistic is magic? Hey what if every hero can make a little of magic when wielding a weapon? I don´t see it frustrating at all. Perhaps it took the flavor of D&D and it’s not D&D anymore, excuse me but that it’s crap, D&D goes beyond a system as many have said, it’s not like 3e and it depends whether you approach the problem, if you look for the system they are different if you approach for what history and characterization not much has changed, so for me and I’m not going to insult people for thinking different, nothing has changed I can adapt to what comes and the main story, the character and the plots will be running aside the system, I won’t attached to specific powers, spells or states, I will remember that once a fighter of 1st level kill a goblin with a critic and left nothing but his boots on the ground (3E anecdote), I will remember a barbarian saying that he doesn’t believe in magic opening a door killing himself, a rogue and a fighter on the act (3e anecdote), I will remember a group of adventurers fall off the cliff of a mountain and almost killing an entire group without rolling dice as DM (4e anecdote), killing luckily an lich king by finding his phylactery when it was almost everything lost (4e anecdote), an so many histories that could be made in any system, that D&D depends on the system, you may not like the system but still can play D&D on pathfinder little changes a lot of imagination and then you have your D&D almost like it was on 3e, 4e is not a bad system just get used to it, you have to change the earlier stereotypes from characters and you will have your D&D, perhaps not greyhawk for how it’s influenced by spells, but even forgotten realms is full playable in 4e, D&D it’s not a system it’s fantastic RPG.

  20. Wait, Mearls is promising to remake 3rd edition for 5th?

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