I hate to keep saying “I told you so” about Fourth Edition D&D, but there’s a thread on TheRPGSite that talks about the new Rust Monster in the MMII. I really can’t believe what I’m reading.
As most of you know, in D&D the Rust Monster is a weird-looking mostly harmless critter feared by adventurers because of its diet. It touches metal with its feathery antennae and cause it to rust into bits, then it eats the rust.
Well, apparently the thought of anyone losing a magic item is no longer tolerable to the Wizards designers. Check it out:
Attack Mode: Dissolve Metal (standard action; per encounter) • Targets a creature wearing or wielding a rusting magic item of 10th level or lower or any non-magic rusting item; +9 vs. Reflex; the rusting item is destroyed.
Residuum Recovery • A rust monster consumes any item it destroys. The residuum from any magic items the monster has destroyed can be retrieved from its stomach. The residuum is worth the market value of the item (not one-fifth the value).
“Residuum” is the magic dust that you can disenchant 4e magic items into. Normally, as part of their ridiculous and sad economic rules, it’s only worth 20% of the item’s cost. However, the Rust Monster now kindly keeps it at full price for you in its gullet. There’s an explicit rationale for this in the “A Guide to Using Rust Monsters” section in the MM2 which boils down to “don’t make any nine year olds cry”…
Eventually, though, the PCs should have an opportunity to regain their lost equipment by using the residuum found in the monster. Although a PC might lose an item, it is intended that the loss be only temporary, which is why the residuum recovered from a rust monster is equal to the full value of the destroyed item. How the PCs deal with the loss is what makes the rust monster fun. Be wary of PCs who try to abuse a rust monster’s powers to their advantage by using rust monsters to consume items the PCs would otherwise sell for one-fifth value. In such cases, you should reduce the resulting residuum to one-fifth value, effectively making the rust monster a free Disenchant Magic Item ritual.
What, they didn’t bother rule-izing that last part by giving it a “Detect Intent” power that would formally change the residuum value based on its reading of the character’s mind?
Seriously, come the fuck on. Realism and consequences are not “fun”, according to Mearls and the other 4e writers. All those people who have enjoyed playing any other edition of D&D must be confused.
Why not just take that small additional step and have characters respawn close to the dungeon with all their gear? God forbid a dead party member gets left behind or some other factor causes them to lose their stuff. Or have un-fun trips to get raised or otherwise be out of the action for more than five minutes. Some of the 4e community is dismissive of “these tired comparisons of 4e to MMORPGs” but – the truth’s the truth. This is a pure computer game move.
Heck, put spawn points in the dungeon. I was amused recently when I got Unreal Tournament 3 on the XBox 360 and in the cutscenes they actually refer to the respawn points as real, in-world things. Most games have the courtesy to pretend they don’t really exist (I know, it actually makes some sense in the UT universe… But this isn’t XCrawl, it’s D&D.). Time for D&D to do the same thing! Dying, gear loss, etc. should all be only moments of delay from getting back in the melee!
I mean, I’m honestly not averse to that in some fringe take-off of the genre like XCrawl. But in D&D? In a core world that supposedly might make some sense, like the fantasy worlds from those things called books people used to read? Really?