Saturday, June 07, 2008

4th edition D&D—a review

To those of you who are not pen and paper gamers turn off now. This is of no interest to you.

If I had to sum it up in one word I'd say it was "Poochie".

It's like the designers have decided it needs to be EXTREME and IN YOUR FACE et-cetera. It's basically computer multi-player game mechanics that have been rendered in pen and paper format.

Multi-classing is adios. People start with 20+ hit points. NPCs are basically irrelevant, there's a total of 17 skills (all adventurer focused) with GMs basically told to "...make it up as you go along..." for everything else. Saves are now like Armor Class with the GM telling you the player whether or not you made a save which is a tragic rape of one of the core fun principles of D&D of making that vital save. Sure, they get to do it to NPCs or monsters but still, it's annoying.

I get that they're a business. And I get that they have to cater for a new generation of kidz whose gaming to now has always been electronic in nature instead of sitting around a table surrounded by junk food and coke bottles laughing deliriously at some crazy shit that just went down.

But 4th ed feels like a slap in the face of all the greybeards who have been playing it since the "insert colour here" sets came out in the 70s and early 80s.

Sure there's stuff in 4th ed that looks neat. Magic items are a lot less complicated now. And I like that they simplified some skills and spells. There's stuff I may take from 4th ed and jam into my house rules.

But basically as far as the 'would you bother?' test goes I'd say no. Either stick to 3.5 or buy Pathfinder (aka 3.75) which is what paizo is releasing and continuing the 3.5 franchise but with improved rules.

Don't get me wrong. I have done my bit, Wizards. I dropped $150 on the table for the three core books. But that's basically all you're getting out of me from now on. You changed the game so much and seemingly created World of Warcraft Lite that it basically shits me.

I'd say the biggest disappointment is their deliberate choice to create a system that cannot be retrofitted over previous material. So they've made sure that the $2000 or so worth of previous product is basically redundant with next to no backwards compatibility to previous editions given the mechanics have changed that much. Oh enterprising GMs will be able to but you'd have to recreate NPCs from scratch.

And to the idiot that wrote the two pages of NPC guidance in the DMG where he suggested stating out an NPC is "...too much hard work..." and implied hand waving is the way to go you need to _____________ and ____ with a bicycle seat. The vast bulk of GMs out there spend more time preparing for their game than they do playing it. Writing background, modules, world creation, towns. They enjoy making up NPCs. And you basically chucked that in their face and called them idiots for doing so.

4th ed seems to have made the game less fun for me and for others and to me at any rate 4th ed seems to have been kitted out not because it was an improvement but so they can market it to a new generation.

Guess what? The average player now is in their mid 30s. The people that played it in their teens 20 years ago. The rules as they stand in 4th ed are not appealing to me, and I'd say most of the people I play with. I'm sure you will make a bucket of money out of the core books—you got my $150, but the internet is a lovely place and people are going to keep modifying the rule sets they like and not invest time and effort in ones they do not. Why would warcrafters want to put down their shiny PCs where the action already happens in real time and play pen and paper anyway?

I think you shot yourselves in the foot long term over this.

But hey my $0.02. And that $0.02 says don't bother.

UPDATE: November, 2014. I cleaned up typos. I still feel the same way, though!


  1. I respect your decision regarding 4th ed, but as another greybeard (I like your use of the term) who was there just before "colored" boxes I would like to point out a couple of things.

    1. The colored boxes were extremely simple....remember elf and dwarf were a class not a race. 4th ed's move to a "simpler" rules system should harken back to that time because it was that simple colored box system that turned all of us in D&D zombies back in the day....getting new blood into the system on their own feet rather than my coat tails is a greeat direction.

    2. I remember hearing all the same (or most) comments from other DMs regarding their NPCs with the move from 2nd to 3.0 since it was sooo different as well. The aspects DM preparation has had a lot of work and I for one will enjoy the new monster format as opposed to having to add PC levels to every creature I want to add in.

    3. I think every player will make their own decisions regarding their choice of rules be it 3.5, pathfinder or 4.0....just like many forum posts talked about never moving to 3.0 because it would kill the industry and so forth many years ago now.

    4. I have heard all the MMO comments as well and I used to be in that camp too, thinking why do they have to phrase it in those terms....but then I realized something. Many of the younger players only know the MMO language for their gaming and why not switch. My earliest books use the english spelling for many words instead of us english (armour vs armor). I think it is okay to speak to the people with terms they can relate to....and even I can follow the terms as well when I think about it.

    I do have to commend you for your post not being too vitriolic. I see way to much of that in this day and people seem to think that their opinion is law over avoided that. So kuddos on that!

    So while I appreciate your opinion on the subject, I do have to differ with you....but I am glad we live in a time where we can have the difference and express them.

  2. The thing about 4 is that its not a progression, it's a regression.

    D&D was coming a long way in its mechanics (I'm wearing my GM hat now). For example Basic had classes that were a race. "I'm a 4th level elf"!. Advanced fixed some problems, 2nd ed fixed more problems (eg proficiencies aka skills existed). 3rd ed even made it better. All of it was an improvement.

    4th ed is not. The idea someone can multiclass is gone. Skills outside that of basic adventuring - gone. The ability to tailore a character through circumstances etc - gone.

    Instead it's a step back to 'you are a fighter, here is a sword, go use it.'

    The combat leaves me cold. The change in 'squares' instead of 'feet' crps me off big time. It's basically embracing the idea of the tabletop environment for combat. 99% of games I've played we didn't use figs. Now ... well ... it seems a given.

    They've designed the game around the idea you have to pay US$10 a month to access new rules. I bet that's where we see Monk and Druid come up.

    I'm all for streamlining and simplicity in combat. But they've made it far more complex with all the powers this and that that can be used. Vancian magic is effectively adios despite the fact that it has been accepted and embraced by many since inception.

    No rolling for your own saves? That's a core part of table fun. That's gone.

    And the backwards compatability issue is exceptionally tragic.

    Basic - AD&D - 2nd Ed - to 3rd ed. It was still basically the same game.

    4th ed. Well, the stats are the same. But level based magic is gone - it's all class based now. Variety is gone. Playing a wizard and judging carefully what spells to learn for the day. That's all gone. It's basically the PS2 version of D&D instead of the game I know, embrace, and loved.

    To paraphrase Senator Bensten "I have played D&D, I know D&D, D&D was a friend of mine. 4th ed, you are not D&D."

  3. This is about ongoing revenue streams and demographics and nothing more. They have to sell new sets of books every couple of years, online subscriptions, little plastic clickable toys, etc.

    I can't blame them for trying to make money off the WoW - ScriptKiddie crowd and ditching the rest of us because we are not a big time money demographic anymore. The stockholders pay them to do that.

    There are other RPG games out there. Fan created games. Games created by small companies. Break away from the marketing and go give those games a try. Some are even free. They may not have slick graphics and online content. But its the play that is the thing.

    Rather than bemoaning the death of AD&D....expand your horizons. We are in a recession so you will be better off either making up your own rules or supporting the little guy anyway.

    Make your own fun.

  4. Damn straight. I collected D&D because I am a collector and it was wish fulfillment from the years when I couldn't for lack of money. I won't any more.

    I've made my own generic RPG (with blackjack and hookers) and I am testing now with various gamers. Dragonquest by SPI (bought out from TSR) is apparently now an uncopyrighted vessel due to their not protecting the name and that kicked the poo out of D&D 20 years ago - maybe it's worth having a look at that?

    That being said Pathfinder looks pretty neat and it's easy enough to crowbar into other 3.5 stuff so perhaps that's the way.

    Basically at its hard 4th ed is aimed at "the next generation" but it's a wired generation that I think doesn't get the appeal of pen and paper.

    It ignores the people that kept the hobby going for 30+ years.

  5. Well, I'll be looking to Pathfinder from Paiso for campaign mechanics when I finally upgrade the campaign from revised 2nd ed.

    You've made my mind up for me, Mikey.

  6. Ok guys, I'm no greybeard but I started back in 2nd edition. loved it, thought it was the greatest, 3rd and 3.5 came out I wasn't too thrilled with it, multiclassing became the CORE of the game, people weren't satisfied anymore with being the Fighter or Rogue or Wizard, they had to be Arcane Archers, Cryokinesists, and all googles of other prestige classes. It got to be that a person playing with a character having a class level of over 6 was considered absurd, power gaming was key and 90% of the time people ditched RPing for power.

    Looking at fourth edition (btw I was running a 3.5 campaign and have NO problems switching over to 4th), I love it. 4th edition is my new favorite. When it first started coming out I hated it, I thought they were MMOing the D&D right outta it, then on June 3rd we got and ran our first adventure in 4th edition, everyone was able to make new characters (both old and new players) and run in through a good long combat in 4 hours. Character creation alone took an entire session before, I know the week before we hopped over to 4th I had 2 players make characters, that was a session LOST. Somethings were made simpler, but they still retained enough complexity to make it interesting. My friend was running a Gnome Illusionist/Cleric, at first we looked at 4th and thought the character was gone, WRONG.

    Mikey maybe if you read the books you would see that there are exactly 4 feats which when you take them all allow you to MULTICLASS having 2 classes, just 2 thats it. Yeah no 3rd edition multiclassing orgy but this is was it was when I was running 2nd edition, 2 classes (with a few rare exceptions). You are basically making your character's career multiclassing, so instead of getting Paragon class powers you get two classes, there: multiclassing happy?

    As far as what the book says about being "too much work" taken out of context it sounds horrible, except that it goes on to say that you should DEFINATELY run the NPC through all the stating and background if it's an (keyword here) IMPORTANT character, a villain or ally that will be around the whole campaign. Personally I never fully stat out every monster, bandit, or Guy-on-the-street-giving-you-info. THAT is dumb, needlessly stating things that don't need stats. What did that guy on the street do in his past to get him to the city? Answer: Noone cares, he's just a guy on the street.

    Now I started in 2nd, but then I got into AD&D and also original D&D, then 3rd and 3.5, so yeah I ran them all I enjoyed them all, each one has aspects that someone will like and hate, something cool now: characters other than spellcasters can do more than 'attack' in a combat round, holy hannah! My rogue is now able to not only attack enemies but move them around allowing my friend the ranger to smack them in the face with a Twin Strike of arrows, that area also just happening to have Cloud of Daggers in it cast by my Wizard friend. Wait, whats this? TEAMWORK? But I thought D&D was all about making uber-solo characters, what will I do with my god characters now? Well I guess you could still run a normal character and have fun with it.

    So let's see here, what got good: Feats - I thought feats were awesome, till I had to read through 30 books to make sure I got the RIGHT ones so I could actually use them effectively.

    Skills - Yeah mostly for in adventures, but that's usually what you're doing, there are RPing skills and also there is just plain Role-Playing that's the fun there, no rules just fun.

    Powers - Wow, fighters that can do more stuff based on what weapon you choose, Rangers that now exemplify the ability to use two-weapons (yeah I kinda miss the old 2 weapon fighting rules, but I kinda like the new ones). So now we have powers that balance the classes, so that you can be awesome as a fighter without being overshadows by a Wizard who just blasted an area of enemies before you could reach them... yeah what a shame.

    Monsters - Ok monster creation rules ALONE are awesome, but now they have different types in each monster so you don't need to do tons of work and stress out (God forbid you have a JOB that gets in the way of planning a campaign!), but with powers now monsters have cool unique things to do, and in the MM are the stats for running a Player Character of the other races too, loveable favorites like Gnome, Drow, Goblin, Orc, even Dopplegangers.

    Saves - yeah I gotta say, odd change there, but it speeds things along a bit, and kidna makes sense. If you're a well trained Rogue and your reflexes are top notch, then what made you fail your roll?

    Spells - Yeah it's odd not having the summon spells, but I feel they will be coming back soon, prolly as Rituals which makes some sense. And Druid, Monk, Bard, etc they pretty much said that with the PHB2 it'll all be there. My friend was almost upset at no Illusions, but wait there they are, maybe not as powers but as rituals at least.

    So in the end, read the books there is a lot there below the first layer of possible MMOness. And actually most people lost their characters from 2nd edition to 3rd we got over it and made new ones. I'm not saying you NEED to like 4th edition, but at least look into it before you shove it in the garbage, I almost made that mistake I'm glad I actually gave it a shot totally worth it.

    PS sorry for the wall of text but I never enjoy something being unfairly shot down, someone had to stand up for it, and I love the system anyway.

  7. First up thanks for responding. The below is not flaming directed at you. I respect your choice to embrace it. The following is a rant of why I cannot.

    Don't get me wrong, there were things I disliked about 3.5. Prestige classes particularly shat me. And the massive profusion of feats (cracking near 130+ I believe from the official books). Fighters were seriously underpowered in 3.5 in a class comparative.

    But 4th has done away with so, so much. Wizards preparing spells, carefully conserving choices has given way to sorcerers lite. Skills? I like there's less but hello, their progression sucks. All automatic as you level up as long as you have training. It offends my ability to suspend disbelief.

    Multiclass is represented by a "dabbling" in minor powers of a class instead of being able to multi class. One of the things that extremely irked me in D&D was narrow casting people into straight jacketed classes. Once a fighter always a fighter. What? Bulldung.

    Normal people aren't represented at all any more. Sure, D&D is about heroes being heroic. And it's clear that PCs are already a cut above the standard jib. But Mr Commoner or Aristocrat etc - non existent. GM is handwaving.

    I like stating out NPCs. I know I don't have to if I don't want to - hell I had about 6 generic templates of typical NPC normals that I'd use in my games. But at least skills for them existed. Here? It's basically "normal man" all over again.

    4th encourages people to be combat focussed monsters. The vast bulk of character powers are combat orientated. Oh sure there's skill challenges but instead of a GM adjudication they have some weird formula of 9 successes Vs 4 fails. What the? Oh - so you can work out experience.

    They handwave in all the wrong spots.

    Combat is now a factor more complex - not less - with all the shit that can be done. Encounter powers, healing surges etc. What? NPC monster building bites the big one - with defined roles and Hit Dice equiv levels and that's it.

    Minions? What the fuck is that? They have 1 hitpoint and are designed to be hero swill yet if you have a 20th level minion - still with 1 hit point - they are worth 1/4 the xp of a normal monster. Please.

    I've read these books on and off over the past two days and if anything it's firmed my opinion that their desire for simplicity has been taken too far and instead of representing a quantum leap in gaming - which it could - it represents a fighting fantsy book with "kewl" Playstation esq powers akin to hitting the triangle button three times then the square.

    Mind you I have yet to play a game. But the thing is I don't want to. They've changed it so very very much. I enjoyed converting NPCs over to 3.0 and 3.5 from my old stuff and running my players through modules that gave me great joy. I don't think I can do this in 4th because the mechanics are so different (eg Wizards; you have like 5 things you can do - oh and almost all combat orientated - weeeeeeeeee).

    On a final note I likewise feel extremely hard done by that I will now have to purchase PH2 in order to get basic classes restored to my game. At least with 3.5 you could play just the three books if you wanted. I doubt that's the case here.

    And their 'D&D Insider' at US$10 a month is a utter joke. That translates to $500 a year for what? A website you may visit every couple of weeks? Why not play Warcraft for $5 more and play the game with all its fancy bells and whistles?

    Sure there's counter arguments to this. The biggest one is 'if you don't like classes why not go play a classless system?'

    Well, I do. I made up a 3.5 hybrid that nobbed off classes and it works great. Will it work in 4? Hell no. And even though its classes it still has the core of D&D at its heart.

    Like I said. I know D&D, D&D is a friend of mine.

    This ain't D&D.

  8. Whoops my maths was off. It's more like $120 a year from what I have read for Insider.

  9. Well I can actually talk from a played the game stand point so I can say quite honestly that combat really has been sped up, as far as Healing Surges you only get 1 in a combat that's it, and even then it only heals up 25% of your hp. And you actually get a good bunch of powers from the other class with multiclassing up to lvl 19 powers, and as far as Wizards they totally win at powers, whereas everyone else chooses one set and that's pretty much it Wizards can choose their Daily and Utility every time they full rest.

    As far as skills: in 3.5 mostly people would normally choose a few skills to max and focus on them and thats it, so essentially now it's the same only in the rules instead of what people did normally.

    And with the combat oriented game, in 3rd and 3.5 most things were also geared towards nothing but combat it was up to RPing to do the game outside of combat, most class abilities in 3.5 were combat abilities I can't even think of any off hand that are really geared towards out-of-combat.

    With monsters, the new rules for upgrading and creating are more clearly defined than in 3.5, in fact I don't recall there being any rules for creating monsters before at all, and upgrading was a needlessly complex ordeal. And I really haven't looked into minions yet but the idea is odd, I feel if I WERE to actually use them I would only use lower level ones and that's it.

    I'm not trying to say 4th is perfect, no such thing exists. But I am coming from a view point of loving 2nd ed above all the others, and even I love 4th above it.

  10. Well you're certainly entitled to your opinion but I disagree with it. I dislike the approach they've taken with 'proto heroes already above everyone else in power at level 1'. I dislike the narrowing of skills (I certainly never took a few and maxed them - hell my Rogue 3 / Fighter 2 / Expert 1 had a spray of skills all over the place to represent background and skills used in the game.

    Creative players made creative use of skills. All 4 has done is say 'less skills but hey here's a complicated way of building them into an exp model as a way of encouraging their use.' Because GMs can't work out it seems how to give exp for non combat encounters.

    But then I nobbed off the EL/CR crap well before then so it was a moot point.

    Wizards have changed so much as to be unrecognisable now. They are basically limited sorcerers. They can't prepare spells based on what they perceive as coming. Instead is spell powers they can't swap out except at key levels. What the? Talk about a massive change. And a change made for e-gamers who grew up with low numbers of powers because the scary spell book with all its choice scared them or somesuch.

    There were plenty of non combat class abilities in earlier editions - wildshape, skill mastery, bonus wizard feats, etc. But I admit that 3+ was geared towards combat. 4th ed it seems even more so.

    Monster rules were in the MM, explaining how to boost monsters, class equiv types etc. MM4 is just hit dice again. Weeee. That's great. No rules for running them as interesting people.

    And sure there's some faint smear of multiclassing with the one (1) class you can take elements from - and great you can cast an at will spell as an at encounter ability. But god forbid you want to do anything that's akin to another class beyond that.

    Fighter Mages? No way. Rogue Thiefs? Ah - no. Bards got nixed (stand by for PB2 which every sucker will get except me).

    In short it's full of stuff I hate. And it fully reminds me of dumbed down systems like Baldurs Gate in Playstation. Running around twatting low level monsters in a couple of swings is yawn for me. Probably why I don't play playstation.

    This game is more like that that D&D used to be.

    Don't get me wrong. 3 & 3.5 had many problems (Grapple was annoyingly complex). But they seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in order to "fix them".

    They've created a new game called 'D&D lite; because people can't add up.' And I dislike it.

    I think I will stick to my hybrid and not make the switch.

    However complaints about mechanics aside the books look good, the layout is okay (though I think they should have ordered the class powers differently), and I did like the DMG how to run a game bits which have been lacking (even if the 'watch out irritating players are X,Y,Z' got uncomfortably close to the bone (I am a rules lawyer sometimes).

    But it's not evolution man. It's de-evolution.

    So in that spirit I am cracking my whip and giving 4th ed the slip.

  11. At first when I heard about the skills I was very upset, until my friend pointed out that most of the skill reductions made sense such as Stealth, Thievery, and Perception for a few. And really right there are soem good examples of non-combat skills, there are tons of uses for Stealth and Thievery outside of combat, not to mention Athletics, Streetwise, Religion, heck most of the skills are really for outside of combat only a few are really intended for use inside of it.

    Wizards do still have the vast array, seeing as everytime they gain a utility or daily spell they actually get 2 added to their spellsbook which when they rest they can memorize up to their daily and utility amount very much like before, just not as much.

    Right now it seems they went with how most people, not all but most, played the game. I can't think of many if ANY Wizards from any D&D who didn't take Magic Missile for example. And as far as Leader/Striker/Defender/Controller yeah I got a bad taste at first but then when I brought some of my friends into when they hdn't played before and they were able to understand they character more based on that and get into it quicker, well I just don't see how that's a bad thing.

    Noone is forcing you to play it I'm defending it because I feel it's a really great system that right now definately needs some people standing up for it, I didn't like 3rd or 3.5 and yet I still ran and played it all the time I found enjoyment in it. Besides the focus should be able fun not how much the changes scare or upset people, if people are having fun with it... then why not play it?

  12. Sure, it will be fun. Just not my kind of fun. And I don't think it will be P&P friendly fun.

    After-all why try and replicate a computer game when you can just play the computer game.

    I think what irks me the most is all the body of work that went before it is far harder to carry across. Sure I collect RPGs. I also use them. I can't use a bunch of my stuff now.

    4th ed is just too different. I got a horrible metal taste in my mouth looking in the monster manual. Hitpoints are radically different to every single edition before it making crossover harder.

    Minions are the most broken thing I have seen in 20+ years of gaming. 1 hitpoint for frick's sake. That's just insanity.

    So yeah, the change does upset me. It upsets me because the change is so much of a change.

    Why fuck D&D in the arse? Why not create a new game entirely and call it something else if this is what they wanted.

    It ain't D&D. It has its name, but not its spirit.

  13. Actually I take that last bit back. Whacking monsters, nicking their stuff, and laughing deliriously when a 20 is rolled is still in the system so the spirit is there. It's just that the game mechanics that support it are simplified to the point that it mortally offends my ability to suspend disbelief.

  14. A bunch of us in my group had our doubts about running it until we actually sat down and ran it, I was consistently saying that it would either be great or absolute terrorible and I'm glad I (and many others) have found it to be great.

    And actually compared to other gaming systems, I would say that 4th isn't actually like MMOs, I play them I know how they are, the new system actually reminds me a bit of Exalted really. Only with classes and not jumping miles across the sky or running at the speed of sound. People are so bothered and afraid of this MMOness they feel is in 4th, but really it's not there except as much as you make it there. Yeah you could turn 4th into a TT MMO, but at the same time, you could with 3rd as well, and in fact they did kinda do that with Neverwinter Nights.

    Most importantly with crossing over to the new system, I was right in the middle of running a campaign in 3rd edition when this came out, I looked it over and said 'wow I can totally swap it over.' The rules have changed but it's still D&D unless you make it not D&D. There are some elements gone sure, but at the same time there are new ones that make it great. It was before that a fighter was 'here's a sword now swing it' But now they have powers so they can do more in combat than bash stuff, not a lot more but they are fighters thats what they do, plus now they are a bit different depending on what weapon you wanna use, swords require dex, Axe is con, these little things make a big difference. I had a player before who could have annoyed the hell outta me, says that he can't play the same thing for more than a little while because it gets boring (he also doesn't play MMOs for basically the same reason), so he was gonna gow ith Changeling for 3.5 allowing him to change his character a lot. But once he got set down with making a charaacter in 4th (ranger) he was like 'wait you mean I can do more than 1 thing in combat now... like really cool stuff not just attacking? that's awesome!'

    I would say, give it a try at least, hell you already bought the books, why not play?

  15. Actually 'fuck D&D in the arse' is pretty strong as well. The entire thing has irked me and its not from a 'it won't be fun' perspective. It's from a 'these game mechanics are retarded and it offends me' perspective.

    Which frankly puts me in the minority of gamers who worries about things like game mechanics as opposed to 'we're just having fun'. I am in danger of comic store guy-ing here.

    The end result is my opinion is 4th ed is a step backwards, not a step forwards and I personally won't make the transition. But for all those that want to then happy gaming. Maybe you come back to the fold later.

  16. Good point. Proof is in the pudding. I will see if I can scare up a game and at least see how it plays in full contact with the enemy.

  17. Out of curiousity what was you're favorite class to run before? I've always been a Rogue or Psion kinda guy (I'm curious to see what happens to Psions)

    (PS I agree with 'screw Insider' I think that's a lame attempt there to needlessly bring D&D online... I was doing the same with AIM years ago)

    I'd say, run a game or two, at elast an adventure. Grab your favorite class and see how it is now. It's worth a shot, what's the worst that could happen?

  18. I've been dreading 4e ever since my more active players heard about it. We had to eventually declare a moratorium on the discussion of it because hearing about the glaring changes only annoyed me more. WOTC no longer seemed concerned with D&D so much as it was concerned with a system. Sure, a lot of stuff in D&D didn't make sense, but it was D&D. It was accepted as the norm - some things were just a little kooky. Other systems did away with them, and they either did well for themselves or just failed horribly. But D&D? Pretty much a mainstay.

    I welcomed the change to 3e from 2e. 2e felt confining to me - once a human fighter, always a human fighter (unless you dual classed and screwed yourself to death). As someone who played humans almost religiously, I did get tired of the demihumans flitting about being better than me at everything. So with 3e, I was very happy. Humans were good to play (perhaps a little too good). 3.5e? Also fine with it - switched over a few of the more annoying tidbits of 3e. Rangers were playable again. Fighters didn't have to multiclass after 4th level. Huzzah. I had OPTIONS.

    I'm also an avid fan of the fiction. Forgotten Realms was my territory. Harping about, slaying Zhents and Red Wizards... that's what I was all about. Geeking out for getting to do one of El's "little tasks" or working for a Seven Sister... all cool to me.

    4e hits. FR is ruined (no, really... just ruined). My class variability is gone. My ranger with the 18 INT/18 WIS is no longer a playable option. Nope... it's all about getting your DPS or TANK on. Minions? They might as well give the faster classes an ability called 'kite.' During a play session, I actually heard one player use the term "pull aggro on the orc." Death also isn't a problem anymore - 10 minutes and you're back up. Woo! So much for being afraid of dungeon traps. My 40 foot drop to a pit of spikes is no longer a threat - just fish out the guy and spend your 10 minutes resting. Wizards, as you say, aren't - they're... something else. Also, the warlord? Can anyone explain to me how you can manage to attack someone, then have a guy yell, and then immediately charge? It's all about the game now. Distance and time are no longer factors. The characters can't discuss them. "Orc, 200ft off! By the treeline!" will never be a viable shout.

    But what gets me most of all? The monsters.

    Angels are evil. Oh sure sure, "Any" alignment. But they CAN be evil. Working for an evil god, ya know. And there's just the angel. No celestial court. No eladrins. No guardinals. Just "angel." No longer will the characters stand in awe as an enigmatic being pleads for their aid in a dire situation. no more "please heroes... I ask you to march to your deaths for the fate of the world." Now it's "angel! quick! get him - he's most likely evil!"

    And Dragons... oh god, they're just normal monsters now. The second FUCKING word in the title of the book... and they're just... not interesting. No more age categories. No more magic. Dragons WERE magic. Now? They're lizards.

    Also, Dryads and Unicorns are unaligned now? I guess that magic circle of protection against evil was just for show. And the phoenix? It's a roc now. An advanced roc that someone lit on fire.

    Ugh, the alignment system - I just remembered it. I just... god, I don't know what to say. This isn't D&D. This is an attempt to make money and appeal to the lowest common denominator. WOTC has no desire to appeal to someone who loves the game - they just want to appeal to as many people as possible. They're losing me, but honestly they won't and shouldn't care. For every me they lose, they gain 2 more newbies. Another $300 in their pockets!

    If you will excuse me, I'm going to go roll my d12 for a while before someone once again tells me how "statistically significant 2d6 is over it and how I should..."

  19. Wow, a couple of things there. First off the system won't make people use new phrases, the fact that people use those words and phrases online won't stop them from using them in D&D, I was hearing stuff like that a couple years ago in 3e, so it's not 4e's fault that someone talks like that.

    "Orc 200ft away, by the tree line" still tehre, each square is 5' just like it always has been, if you don't like saying squares then do the little math and say feet, 40 squares is 200' no big change there.

    The dragons do have ages, it's right in there in the description, Young, Adult, Elder, and Ancient not much changed there, an Angels have always been able to be Evil there can be evil angels and that fact doesn't mean that they are ALL evil, just some. The Court, yeah I remember when they made it, in a supplement for AD&D 2e, sounds like something that will be put into another supplement which means you're gonna have to spend more money... but uh... if they woulda just kept putting out 3e woulda bought them, thus still spending money on books for D&D so literally no change there.

    They changed alignment, but really just a little: Good, Lawful Good, Evil, Chaotic Evil, Unaligned. Good basically covers both Neutral and Chaotic Good, Evil covers Lawful and Neutral Evil, and Unaligned covers the Neutrals, was there a LOT of difference between Netral Good and Chaotic Good? Really?

    An actually Death wasn't much of a problem in 3e, I MADE it a problem by only having a few NPCs able to cast Resurrection spells but that was really the only way. Yeah it'll usually take more damage to kill a PC but then dropping someone into a 40' pit of spikes will probably be able to kill the kind of characters you would use it against. I was never a strictly 'by the rules' guy I use them as guidelines, most of the traps I would use were really just survive or die, you are the DM, you can still tell them that someone died and had no chance of surviving, that's your role in the game. Also while Dying characters only get 3 chances to get back to life, when they fail all 3 they are dead. The way the rules have it I feel bad for the guy who fell onto the spikes, if he makes his saving throw to regain consciousness... then he's stilled spiked in various places..I don't know about you but I imagine that would still cause damage to that character.

    And I dunno what they are gonna do for FR I don't work there, I'm sure it'll be cool, I doubt they could make FR not cool. And of course with variability for your Ranger: Half-Elves gain an at-will power from another class as an encounter power, Humans gain an additional at-will from their class, and you can still Multiclass without screwing over your character, you only get 2 classes oh damn I can't be a Mage/Fighter/Ninja/Rogue/Technomancer/Psionicist anymore, what ever will I do?

    I wasn't looking forward to the changes, they scared me too, till I realized that the world changes. You can't stop it from changing, you either change with it or get left behind, sometimes you can do both, I still play 2e I love that system too. But I love 4e and I will keep on playing it because it's fun. And really that's all it ever needs to be.

  20. Thank you Harrangueman. Your thoughts mirror my own. You've even made some of the same comparisons, viz WoW, and the game being similar to a pen and paper video game.

    I've been playing D&D, in its various incarnations, for twenty-eight years. This simply isn't Dungeons and Dragons. It's Hack and Slash.

    The main difference between characters now is little more than whether their victims are bleeding or sizzling after a combat round.

    This game hardly even bears superficial resemblance to Dungeons and Dragons. Reading the core books (which I intend to return or exchange, if possible), I have to wonder if any of the game designers have even _played_ D&D before.

  21. I have to admit that the second I cracked open the PHB, I was mortified... classes and races missing, the spellbook gone...

    It feels like a right slap in the face. Things haven't become simpler, it's all been dumbed down!

    The prestige classes, the myriads of feats, vast lists of races etc..
    I can understand why they had to cut some of these out, but the core classes themselves? What the *fuck*?

    Anyway, I'm going to give it a shot, and see what happens.
    I might strip some things for house rules, and I might try to come up with a conversion system for monsters.
    Dear god.. the monsters...
    No metallic dragons.. stupid chromatic ones..
    No nymphs, dryads are mutant plant avengers now...

    They taken out roleplaying, and left behind hack and slash gaming.

  22. Am I the only one AMAZED how they could dump core elements from the game? Im not talking about rules, not skills or multi-classing, no. Im talking about the world of dungeon and dragon.

    Succubus is now a devil? Bah, it fits more on that side now... Demons are now huge barbaric monsters and devils are more human-manipulator-like. WTF happened to law vs chaos? And on the good side? Even worse of course. Just read the archon section and cry with me.

    Nope, sorry folks, but 4th is not for me. Im the kind of DM who can run a quest of 10-12 hours with only 1 or 2 battles. For me, d&d is a world, not a battle system, and now it's gone. M. Girax is dead, so is D&D

  23. Oh, I almost forgot. I play in the forgotten realms too. Cyric killed Mystra? Now people realsed no god of magic is needed to cast spells?? The weave is now just synonym for magic??? Gimme a break, WOTC, you can't hate us that much.

  24. VARIETY... gone.

    All I bought was the PHB and I am hopefully selling that to a friend who wants it.

    I have played every edition from Basic on up to 3.5 Ed. as other have... (though Im not grey or bearded, lol ) all were somewhat similar in mechanics. This is not, and as stated before it is very MMOish, mostly the classes and the incredibly simple lists of powers.

    When asked by a co-worker why I was unhappy 2 days ago, I simply said... "If you play Monopoly for 20 years and it goes through various changes, but its still Monopoly. Then Monopoly 4 comes out and instead of using little aluminum figures, it uses round plastic chips; the paper money is gone; instead of going around the board collecting things, your job is to go across the board killing everything. I then asked... am I playing Monopoly4 or reinvented Checkers?!

    Long story not so short... I enjoyed the variety of classes, spells, races, etc. That is all gone. Oh yea, wait, thats right... PHB 2-6 is gonna fix all of that, sorry I forgot! I played Magic the Gathering (card game) since its been out('94ish), off and on, Ive seen WotC play this game, hell even 3.5 did it... and I dont care for it.

    Fortunately I have a buyer for my PHB, hoping they dont back out on me.

  25. The second i heard a designer say (and i quote) "it sucks to be a mage and run out of cool things to do in battle" (end quote) i knew that this wasn't the game for me. i was mortified when i looked what happened to rogues, as they no longer have any reason to search for traps or pick locks. Why? because the penultimate Warlock can do all those things now. the abilities are insane now, with casters far outpacing the other classes. I mean, this guy has the ability to do 3d10 of damage +int mod every day?!?!?!? what's the deal with that!? then i looked at my beloved rogue, now little more than a low quality attacker instead the skill specialist he used to be. they turned sneak attack into a joke, as monsters can have hundreds of hit points quite easily. for levels 1-10, a rogue that sneak attacks deals 2-12 extra damage WHOOPY! but wait! it gets better! for level 11-20 it becomes 3-18! wow! by this point the casters are pulling back the souls of dead enemies to serve them as the base statted creature, but only with 10 HP, so that balances it out. and level 20+? oh god, the rogues are doing 5-30 gamage!!!! watch out (insert monster here) with 800 HP, cause here comes the guy that can hit you for an extra 5-30 of that!! Rogue "Powers" are basically limited by their weapon, dealing "2x weapon damage + dex mod" or some such nonsence. yes i am aware that this is a very one-sided ramble, but bear with me just a little longer. one of my major problems with 4e is that we're back to set weapons for our class. rogues can't gain the ability to wield a longsword, or a spiked chain, or maybe a whip or anything exotic. instead, they wield daggers and "small blades" (shortswords)
    for a max of 1d4 or 1d6. wow. i deal 2x 1d4 damage when using an ability. and the wizard does 1d6 times his caster level, or 3d10 once a day, or some other baloney.
    as for the designer that said "we didn't realise how many wanted to be rid of the Vancian casting." he's right. the twinks, the min/maxers, and the powergamers all wanted to do away with the Vancian system. not all of us did, as it limited the caster on picking his spells for the day, and kept him from turning the other characters into his "Bodyguards" to soak up the combat. I have played D&D for about... 7 years now, starting with 2e. i am sad to see what has happened to Earnest Gary Gygax's masterpiece.....

  26. I am one of those mid-thirties greybeards...

    I started out at Unhearted Arcana, invested a ton of money on 2nd edition and, as a DM, spent countless hours building complete campaign settings.

    3rd edition (including 3.5) completely threw me out of the game (haven't played since). It was (is?) a MinMaxing, multicassed orgy. Gone was simple RPing. (Turned to customised Rolemaster actually!)

    I've gone through 4th ed and I must say I like it a lot. In fact, this edition will probably bring me back to D&D.

  27. 'm glad to see another person who was willing to give 4th edition a try and liked it. Most people I've seen bash the system have either not at all or barely played it i'm glad the system brought back an older player, and yes I totally agree that 3rd was a mess of power-playing rules and the game has thankfully gone away from those ways.

  28. As a "greybeard" who runs a campaign that is not published i.e. not forgotten realms,greyhawk or any other published setting, I find 4th ed wants me to rewrite my entire setting from scratch and considering that my game is officially 30 years old this year that is not a reasonable request. 8 years ago I jumped on the 3rd edition bandwagon because the rules solved several problems I was having with special organizations in my setting by adding prestige classes. Add to that we were given rules ahead of time to help us move characters and npcs up to the new material so we could continue our existing storylines without more than a minor inconveniance.
    I agree this new edition is not aimed at the people who have been with the game long time. This new edition is aimed at the new generation of kids weened on MMOs and computer rpgs. That being said I will say I bare Hasbro no ill will as two factors are present now that were not in the last move.
    One there has always been players who fell away at each upgrade for one reason or another, I know people who still run 1st ed campaigns as well as those who stayed with 2nd ed.
    Two the open game licence has spawned a flood of material so vast I can not imagine ever running out of new material to incorporate into my campaign.
    So to each their own and a shake of my head and no thanks to 4th ed.

  29. I'm not a greybeard (since human females can't grow hairy faces), but I've been playing D&D since getting that Red Box back in high school, all the way from Basic to AD&D to 3e. I also play Warcraft.

    When I want to play Warcraft, I log on & play with my standard, limited characters & computer-controlled monsters.

    When I want to play D&D, I pull out my 3e books and call up some friends, and play D&D. 4e -- everything I've been reading, both enthusiastic OMG reviews and reviews from Harrangue's view, has ensured I will never, ever, buy 4e books, and they'll be banned from my sessions.

    I will admit, though, that I tossed alignment out a long time ago (since I never agreed with such a delineated system), and our games never suffered one bit (aside from some spells needing a bit of tweaking & judgement calls from the DM -- ie, the DM & players using their brains). We also ditched the pre-memorized spell system in favor of an in-house spell-points system, which made the magic-users more flexible and able to keep up with the fighters. Again, the 3e game balance never suffered.

    People kept griping about the rules issues with 3e, and never once seemed to figure out that as a DM, you could toss those rules & try alternate systems & work things out with your players.

  30. Well then what makes you never ever want to even give it a try? Two of the big reasons people find to hate 4e you are already ifnoring by having no alignment and a non-memorized spells system, is there then something else about 4e that makes you not want to try?

  31. Well, it looks like everybody is very one-sided in there opinion. I though, am not. It hurts as much as it helps. It vastly improves combats, even the simple ones are more strategic and interesting. It makes all classes interesting withen every combat. But, as someone expertly stated "The only thing that differintiates classes is wether the orc is roasted or sliced up after its dead". Which is sadly true. A character class that simply deals more damage is simply better. Never used to be quite like that. They took the mechanics and the part of the game out where a 'better character" is not always who deals more damage.

    So, the Solution? Well, fix it. The GM's can take what they like and leave the rest. Too bad we dont all have the time to do that, too bad the comopany that gets paid to do it couldnt of done it. (although I am sure that for every person who WotC didnt apeal to there is many more who WotC did apeal to). But that option is always available.

    Now excuse me while I go Make DnD 3.875

  32. I've been a DM/GM for 20+ years. I've played a variety of different RPG's. I've also read through the 4th Ed books, made a few characters, and ran a few mock combats.

    I considered listing the pluses and minuses, but it really isn't worth it. You are a DM, it's your house, change it to suit your needs.

    My final analysis is this: no matter how you play it, the game was designed to emulate MMO's to some extent. Hasbro is a corporation and they want a piece of the MMO pie. If you don't think this is the case... just wait... I'm sure they will attempt an online MMORPG based on 4th (pls god not Eberron).

    I will not run or play 4th Ed because they didn't just hearken back to the days of the pink box... but they flat-lined the class mechanics and pigeon-holed PC's, NPC's and monsters alike. Adjustments can be made... but why bother? 3.5 has the depth I require.

    Like I said, in the end, a DM can make it work to suit him. Can change/flesh out the rules, expand npc's or monsters, etc. It doesn't matter the system you use, use the one that suits you. 4th doesn't suit me, I deem it too "simple."

    If you feel 4th is better because it's "sleak" or "streamlined"... just wait. They'll be so many extra abilities, new classes (complete with new "multiclass" feats), paragon paths, epic paths, feats, skills, that those who feel bogged down now will once again have that familiar feeling.

    Hasbro is here to make money. A whole new set of books... allowing a revision of the old material to be republished... allowing an easy transition to an online game...

    Now this may seem cynical... only time will tell.

    Last thought: If you didn't like vancian magic... play a sorcerer, a warlock, a psion, use a spell point system, or some other alternate found in a plethora of sources.

  33. Amen ti that I still think 2nd edition as the best...
    also a warlock spell that does 3d10 at first level???
    now everyone can heal???
    goodbye cleric

  34. Just a small observation: many of the people who are criticizing it here actually say they haven't played it, while those who have played it seem to be generally those who support it. Perhaps you should give it a chance and play a couple of scenarios?

    I'm this new generation it's supposed to be aimed at: and it's worked as far as I can tell. D&D as far as role playing games go was never much a of a roleplaying game , but a rollplaying game. 4th ed has embraced this, streamlining the combat system and giving the players more to do than just 'hit' the enemy. Essentially I can now have fun working as a team in a tabletop battle game with a plot arc. If I want to actually roleplay I'll stick to CoC thanks.

    Oh and the large amounts of hp and second wind are deceptive... it disappears all too quickly, and we really need both our cleric and our paladin.

  35. Ya know at first I didn't like 4th edition because of what is is. But Blennophobia is exactly right D&D has always been a poorly balance "role"playing game it's always been a better "roll"playing game.

    I guess if I want to roleplay I'll just move to the Herogames or whitewolf system. Whitewolf is a great example of a system that sucks as a "roll"playing system but there is an attitude amongst the players that encourages RPing over die rolling.

  36. As someone who has been playing in a 4th edition game since a week before it came out, and someone who went into it with a lot of apprehension, I have come up with my valid reasons why this new game just doesn't do it.

    Just to qualify, I have been playing d&d for 17+ years, starting with 1st and going through 3.5. I have both dm'ed and played in every edition extensively, and role-played and power gamed (hard-core strategy game style when it game to 3.5). I have played my fair share of computer rpg's, and have even tried WoW, though I must say I fall asleep everytime I do (I don't know how you kids do it).

    While it is certainly true that 4th edition does not have to be run as a strange fantasy combat simulator, the entire game seems to be built for that. Although all of us must admit that hackin and slashin has always been a big part of the game, it didn't always have to be so god-damn strategic. I can still remember running games in 2nd edition in which we could get through entire dungeons in one sitting, and still have lots of time for in town role-playing and plenty of goofing around. Now, it seems we have make sure to budget our time, because the combat section of the adventure will take us hours for each encounter.

    It seems to me I think the best of table-top roleplaying is the moving of a story. I feel that if you want to do strategic combat sims, then design that. But let d&d remain about the story, and let us get through enough that a long story arc can be told in less time then it takes to graduate college, and that I don't have to pretend to be a naval tactics major everytime my fantasy roleplaying party comes across a group of goblins.

    That being said, I am having fun in our group, but thats because it is still just a game, and my DM has been doing this long enough not to let the books get in the way. I am just worried that new players and kids might not learn the same feel and flavor that that old 1st edition DMG really gave (not to mention the amount of creative thought and writing that went into the game back then when you didn't have somebody telling you how everything was done).

    My final complaint is simply that the system loses, and has been losing, the best part about table-top character building that I have ever found. The fact that you really could not tell where you would end up with your 4th level fighter by the time you reached 12th level. While you could certainly roll up characters of that level, it was never, EVER the same as a character that got there the good old-fashioned way. Either polymorphing, crazy magic items, artifacts, wishes, weird spells, magic pools, demons, gods, or just a DM gone looney for a bit (maybe a bit too much to drink some gaming night, though i don't know how many of you have had the fun experience of drunken d&d) always ended up making for unique CHARACTERS that had real histories, backgrounds, abilities and items. The character classes were left fairly empty for that reason alone, that the story would develope a character into a person, like in real life. Real immersion gaming. This last problem occurred to me when I took my dwarven warlock and proceeded to use an online tool to level him up and create a character sheet for him for every level up to 12 (I got bored after that). I know exactely how he will be at every level, with maybe a few minor changes, because the rules are now designed to PROHIBIT all of the stuff that used to make characters unique. It's almost impossible to die, and fairly easy to get resurrected anyway (Raise Dead is simply just an 8th level ritual anyway, also a note: they have been doing that since 2nd anyway), no more polymorph, no more reincarnation, no more permanent changes, good and bad, to happen because we don't want the players feeling bad. I can still remember getting broken up over losing all my magic items back in the day. I mean, yeah, it sucked, but then I had to adventure for new ones, and they meant something. Not like now, where my warlock now just goes through the book at every level and asks if anyone wants me to make them the new item available for this much gold.

    As I said, I have fun playing the game yet, but only because my group is a blast. With leveling and character advancing so bland and uninteresting, character classes so "balanced" that almost any class will do (you can pretty much run a party of all anythings and still do fine), no real chance for death (yes, when we first started, there was plenty of dropping and a near TPK, but now that we have learned the system, we just ran through 3 oversized encounters at 5th level without even stopping for a 5 minute rest), and all of the fun, house-rules style story progression and character development, I just can't get behind this edition. It has honestly made me so sick of this new war-gaming/MMO style tabletop gaming that I am getting my old 2nd edition stuff out, so that I can go back to when you didn't have to own $1000 bucks worth of minatures and spend hours on end for every combat. I haven't run my new 2nd ed game yet, but when I do, I look forward to really comparing it with this new style of gaming. I hope my nostalgia hasn't gotten the best of me, or I might just be getting sick of this game in general, and that would make me sad.

    But, all of you strategy/combat freaks out there (and I am one of you on occasion, I play Star Fleet Battles, and those of you who know, know I have to take Tactical combat very serious), have fun Twin striking, magic missiling, and teleporting 3 squares to your hearts desire. I'm going to go find a portal to Hell, bathe in a pool of radiance, and get reincarnated into a bugbear fighter/magic-user with my intelligent +1 scimitar, +3 vs. pan-dimensional shades of the color blue.

  37. Dear Mikey,

    I don't know if its possible but I am enquiring if I may send my RPG game ATLAS to your august publication for review. If it's ok to send to you for review I would love to send it to you. So please feel free to send me your contact address so I can pop it in the post to you. Below is a link to the games website for a preliminary look but I would be more than happy to send you the complete game.

    Kind regards

    Sean Flynn

  38. I was first introduced to D&D with the Basic Set. I played AD&D (1st and 2nd) and quit with 3.0 as it was simply too complicated with the gazillion feats and prestige classes. I thought for sure that one of the authors would be named Monty Hall!!!

    I switched to BESM, Anima RPG and LOTFR for the last few years and didn't look back. I still have my 1st edition AD&D core books for sentimental reasons. :)

    After running a 4th edition campaign for the last couple of months I can say my players and I have had a blast. I simply don't understand why everyone is is a GAME, not real life!!!

    Who cares if I don't have a break baking skill anymore or I no longer can roll dice to determine if I was able to shoe my steed. Please!!! This is the kind of stuff you DON'T need stats for...just some lighthearted role-playing instead.

    The more I read the more I realize that some folks take D&D MUCH too seriously. $2000.00 on books? By the Gods; that is a nice HD TV!!!!

    I am a greybeard myself, but I have learned (the hard way) that we have to change to stay competitive. Maybe D&D just needed a this shot in the arm!!!

    If someone is unhappy with the new rules set, that is fine. There is 30 years worth of D&D material on ebay to keep anyone happy as a roleplayer for the rest of their lives.

    My 2 cents

  39. I keep hearing a common thread; "it's too much about combat" Any D&D game can be this way. I am definitely a greybeard, been playing for 30 years. I have played every edition of D&D. I loved all of them. I resisted the change to 3rd edition as I loved second. 3.5 initially pissed me off, I had just bought the 3e books. What I have learned in all these years is that D&D is not about the rules. It's about imagination, and that my friends can work within ANY rule system.
    I have DM'ed and created many worlds, all of which I have loved and I can say unequivocally that all of them were fun to play in, as I had many many players tell me so. Yet each one has been using a different set of rules based upon the story I wanted to tell. So here's the thing. if you want Roleplay, then focus on story. If you want tactical combat, then focus on the rules system and creating interesting tactical situations. Personaly I like a bit of both and I don't see how ANY rule system can prevent me from creating a great story. Characters are about personality, not abilities. That is how each character is different.
    At first I was apprehensive about 4e, but after reading the posts two things became clear. D&D is, was and always will be what YOU make of it. I think I'll actually buy the books now and give it a go. Who knows.. maybe I'll even enjoy myself. (I'm betting that I will, since the mere fact of using my imagination gets my juices going.)

  40. I Started playing D&D when i was 13 with 2nd ed AD&D, with a group who all hated 3rd ed. I manged to convince them all to switch to 3.5 and then everyone was happy. Then 4th ed came out. At first we were all for it. I bought all 3 core rulebooks on release day. AFter the first few games I said " I'll give 4th ed a year." I have since played 4th ed once a week for a year. And I have come to this conclusion 4th ed is to D&D what the special olympics are to The Olympics. Its nice and shiny with a bunch of friendly primary colors. Need a less cynical example? 4th ed is to D&D what Britney Spears is to Beethoven's collected works. Its flashy and glitzy without any of that anoying soul in it. It's D&D for kids. All any of the class powers (at least from martial power, PHB1, DMG, MM, Forgotten Realms campaign setting and players guide) DO is hurt something with some other effect. AT the end of a ridiculously long fight all that really happend is everyone hurt the monster in some way and then we stopped gaming because every fight in 4th ed takes on average 2 hours to get through. In 3.5 as part of the 1st game ever DMing by myself and with 4 minutes of warning i had to run 5 lvl 3 PC's VS. 38 Kobolds and i can be done with the fight, the prep, the experiance, and the treasure in 20 minutes, but in 4th ed 5 lvl 3 pc's versus 4 scorpians with 2 DM's takes TWO HOURS?!?!?! In previous editions of D&D having a combat grid made things easier but wasn't necesary. In 4th ed if you don't have a combat grid you can't play. 4th ed is responsible for me quitting D&D, due to the fact that my playgroups other dm (being a fan of turn based tactics games) has practically proposed to 4th ed. Meaning I can play in 4th ed games or I can Run 3.5/pathfinder. Dming all the time drives me crazy sooo... I Quit. From now on I think I'll go play call of duty4 instead of 4th ed D&D, come to think of it they're very similiar...

    Well i suppose i should tell you why Its not worth the paper its printed on. For example:
    At first level EVERY class gets:
    2 at will powers
    1 encounter power
    1 daily power
    1 feat
    between 4 and 6 skills (out of 11)
    and 100 gold pieces.

    at second level EVERY class gets:
    1 feat
    1 encounter power
    and 1 utility power

    At tenth level you get your paragon path (e.g. really worthless prestige class)

    ALL paragon paths give you an encounter power at 11th level and an ability that activates only when you spend an action point and some other ability such as +1 to hit with your chosen weapon. You also get a daily power at 12th and 20th level.

    All races give you an encounter power and +2 to 2 differant stats. If you would like to multiclass from fighter into rogue you will have to burn every feat you get in order to swap some of your fighter powers for some of the rogues lower level encounter powers and sneak attack once per day.

    If you like tabletop combat simulation games with a lot of paperwork then 4th ed's built for you if you like building a unique character with a background and goals then go play D&D.
    In the end the only thing that is similiar between D&D and 4th ed is they both involve a fantasy setting, dice, pencils, and paper (But wait with the new 4th ed character builder you don't even need to use the pencils and paper! you just need a computer a printer and 10 bucks a moth to waste on a cheap imitaton of D&D!)

  41. If 4th edition was a slap in the fact to us Greybeards, then 3.x was a bullet to the brain.

    I think 4th edition has more of an old school feel than editions 2 and 3. To me they represent an acceptance of the fact that D&D has always been about dungeon crawls. 2nd and further editions tried too hard to be something that D&D was not. Don't get me wrong, some excellent settings like Dark Sun and Planescape came from 2nd edition, but they never fit well within the rules. The system simply didn't work well with the kind of outside the box thinking that those kinds of settings demanded. If you want deep plots and intrigue, there are much better systems available. (HERO system and WoD for example.)

    Good Hack and Slash is much better than bad intrigue. And 4th edition is good Hack and Slash.

  42. I started with 1st ed, went to 2nd, then 3rd. I also bought the the core books for 4th and wound up returning them to the bookstore. The decision to foist 4ed on us was greed pure and simple. There was nothing wrong with 3.5 that warranted the destruction of D&D and the creation of this piece of drek. WOTC/Hasbro has also destroyed the ability of 3rd party publishers to create supplements, adventures, etc. with their draconian application of the new gaming license for 4ed.
    Say goodbye to the wealth of third party material we got from White Wolf, Mongoose,

  43. I picked up the phb when 4e first came out, just to check out the new rules, see if it was worth re-buying everything all over again, and I got as far as page 19 befor I was totally pissed. Since when is it wrong to play evil characters? The book flat out dictates to you that you will ruin the fun and be disruptive if you choose an evil character. ONLY if the character is played like a three year old. I can forgive leaving out previous core classes and races, but telling me I can't make interesting roleplay by being evil in a group of goodies? Done right it makes for some awesome character moments. I've played plenty of goodies and shades of neutrals, so don't think I have a evil fetish, but don't tell me it is going to ruin the game if omg I want to play a fiendish minded character. Also, to exclude the evil deities entirely from the subsequent DEITIES section is just more pissing on character creation freedom. When I picked up the book again, and continued to read I see that if you take a fighter and a wizard of equal level and strength stat, they have exactly the same chance to hit each other with a stick unarmored. What is wrong with this? Easier answer, What is right with this...answer : NOTHING.
    in a flat out slap fest, no skills, powers, ect. a fighter has 0 advantage over a wizard. I know since they do have the skills/powers and such, they'd never elect to try this experiment, but it is the fundemental on which the whole system is based, and it's WRONG.
    If the game is fundamentaly wrong, what does that tell you about the rest of the damned game?
    I did finish the rest of the book, and I saw alot of things that looked interesting, and even fun ideas, but it all boils down to a complicated form of chess when you get down to it, move this way, attack like this, move here, avoid attacks of opertunity, flanking..blah blah, blah, look if I wanted to do strategic combat, I have to agree with the previous poster and go play FF Tactics.
    No where in the book did I see space left for roleplay in combat.
    No where did I see room to tie yourself to a mast, take a leap of faith, slash and stab two opponents as you swing past, saving your third attack for the top of the upswing and severing the rope, doing a double summersault and landing on your feet doin a clasic swashbuckler pose. That was an awesome set of rolls on a player's part that day.
    I guess what I'm saying is, there isn't any room for real jaw dropping moments in gameplay when all you're doing is power A, power C, power B...which as far as this book makes sense are your only options, character skill tree choices be damned, it's still what you're limited to. And to comment on something I read somewhere, may have been here, I'm not reading through the whole blog again...but if all you've done in previous ed's was "I swing my weapon" you haven't been playing your characters right.
    I must agree, this is NOT D&D.

  44. I've been a d&d player since 2nd edition and loved the 3e changes. When I saw 4e, I was furious. Warlords but no bards?Fighter powers? Healing surges!? Things could not have been worse. The game concepts were so abstracted as to be unbelievable.

    But then I started listening to the PvP/Penny Arcade podcasts of their 4th edition playtest. It sounded genuinely fun. Some of them were veteran players, the rest were new, but they were all having a blast. My fears of the PHB's lack of roleplaying went out the window. Silly as they were, their characters were truly memorable, even with ridiculous names like Jim Darkmagic and Binwin Bronzebottom. The mechanics, irrenconcilable as they seemed, made more sense when I heard them in action. Things didn't change; clerics were still the consummate healers, the fighter still owned melée combat, and their wizard was still frail as ever. The new death rules were simpler but no less frightening. Their characters could (and did) come close to death on several occasions. Healing surges didn't change healing all that much when it came down to the final result, and at the rate hit points were disappearing the players needed every last drop. Class powers were combat oriented to be sure, but the players found ways to use them and their skills to roleplay in combat. All in all, the new system did nothing to discourage cleverness and unconventional thinking in combat; to the contrary, the players were rewarded for thinking on their feet. Especially the wizard.

    I hear a lot of talk about the lack of roleplaying and the 'gamey-ness' of the new system. But what 4e has really done is look at the way people played 3e and base their new system on that. Few players ever took Craft skills because they simply did not pay off when so many other skills were more broadly applicable, so they did away with them. Most wizards either loaded up on combat spells or left slots open to memorize when the situation called for it, so now rituals and utility spells cover those bases while allowing wizards to remain useful (and fun) during combat instead of being a target and a liability. Clerics, while necessary, were the characters nobody wanted to be stuck with because they knew exactly what they would be doing every combat, so now clerics have powers that let them actually do things other than heal/buff. There are a slew of other examples where rules were tweaked, simplified or eliminated to make the game faster, more fun and more balanced. Some things may make less or more sense in terms of realism, but players can still do anything they like and try anything they want. The DM still makes all the calls.

    The new rules may have the look of an MMO, but the same could be said of any game if you changed the terminology and put it in a shiny, color coded book with simple language. The feel is still entirely dependent on how you play, and by the various reactions players are giving I'm guessing we all have our own approach to the game. That's fine, and I accept that, but that's no reason to use vitriolic rhetoric and start flame wars against 4e players for doing something they understand and enjoy. D&D players should the last people to criticise or insult another person for playing a game. Dungeons and Dragons is just a name and should not define the substance of a product. Players who throw their arms up shouting 'this is not D&D' are too attached to the name. 3.5 will continue. It's just called Pathfinder now.

    Sorry for the lenghty post. Just thought I'd share my perspective.

    PS: @ the example of swinging by a rope in combat: Acrobatics check to swing, treat the attacks as a charge, make an acrobatics check for each attack to see if you can continue making them, make a final acrobatics check to land and balance, minor action to cut the rope. Fits perfectly into 4e rules.

  45. Its a paper MMO and anyone who denies this is deluding themself. Just look at the Shaman class and their totem implement. But thats not my biggest petpeeve with 4e. Mine is the constant increase in skills and AC and fact that stats dont really mean much. I could go on but i know its pointless cause WOTC will never go back.

  46. Anonymous3:51 AM

    Now wait you can do all this is 6 seconds? -> No where did I see room to tie yourself to a mast, take a leap of faith, slash and stab two opponents as you swing past, saving your third attack for the top of the upswing and severing the rope, doing a double summersault and landing on your feet doin a clasic swashbuckler pose.

    Yay right! This is simple you either follow the new set of rule or not. WotC is a compagny that make profit. D&D must sell. MMO is a big pie. D&D 4th is like Wii, hardcore gamer doesn't want to play with it, that like 10% of the world population, the rest want. Where is the money?

  47. Anonymous12:33 PM

    I'm a teen aspiring DM. not to long ago i got the 4th edition players handbook and i have to say that i didn't really like it and neither did any of my friends. So we still just stick to 3.5 version it's fun and i like the huge variety of races and classes.

  48. Speaking as a player throughout 3.5 and a World of Warcraft player I must say I detest 4.0 heartily. Its removed all the customization from the game and replaced it with below average mmo-swill. I'll stick to my 3.5 books thank you very much, for you sir are not D&D.

  49. I am posting on this comment thread two years after my initial burst of outrage (Oct 12 2010).


    Because tonight in our session ... my players ... tricked me with a dodgy gift.


  50. Anonymous12:37 AM

    Anything WOTC touches is crap. They fixed something that wasnt even broke with Classic D&D and AD&D.

    The downfall for D&D/AD&D/TSR was Magic: The Gathering. Plain and simple. As soon as WOTC purchased TSR, the table top hobby was killed off.

    If it werent for GURPS and The Hero System still kicking, we wouldnt be playing anything at all, well, except Magic.

    3rd edition is a mishmash of random crap. 4th is nothing more than D&D Online on paper.

    If you want to play real table top RPG's, hit ebay and grab all the Classic D&D and AD&D you can buy.

  51. Anonymous12:40 AM

    What I found distasteful is the fact they took the old basic red books boxed set and repackaged 4th edition to sell their new crap.

    That is just desperate on their part.

  52. 4th Edition D&D has followed the example of other RPGs by streamlining the system for a smoother play experience. I regularly run 4 hour game sessions with roleplaying out the wazoo and I still get 4 or 5 encounters done.

    I have been playing D&D since 1st edition. I refused to play 2nd edition as well as 3rd and 3.5. I just didn't like them and my DM also refused to run them. So we continued playing 1st edition until 2010 when I finally sat down and played 4th edition.

    I was amazed by the system mechanics and how easily one could pick up the books and begin to play. Then there is the online content that is awesome! For about $5 a month you can get the character builder, adventure tools, compendium, dungeon magazine, dragon magazine, character sheets and a random name generater.

    All that is just plain awesome! Sure it is over simplified to a degree, but in the end the game is better for it. I enjoy the fact that now there are powers. Not every Ranger is the same, not every paladin is the same. There is variety. Give me 4th edition all day and I will love every bit of it.

    Of course no one is making you buy the books and play 4th edition if you do not like it. I highly recommend it though.

  53. Anonymous6:23 PM

    WotC did the right thing with 4th. The real problem with D&D was that the quality of other RPG systems in the last 15 years has increased so dramatically. Complex settings and diverse rulesets are common, and the artistic quality of the books is amazing. D&D was becoming less relevant and less of the "norm" for roleplaying, and no amount of minor tweaking was going to prevent that.

    4th edition basically acknowledges that by changing the focus of the game. Tactical combat is now the core of the game, owing its pedigree to DDM and Mage Knight. It won't necessarily appeal to the same people, and likely does still alienate today. But you have to give WotC credit, they found a way to differentiate the game from all the other RPGs on the shelf. The quality of miniatures has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, and you don't even have to paint them yourself any more. There's no reason to play a pen & paper game when, for a few bucks, you can add 3-dimensional visual spice to your game.

    And, although the RPG aspects are de-emphasized, for those of us who do like the new tactical emphasis, the transition was pretty well done. Some key concepts were kept, but some new ones that were added (real class differentiation) are a breath of fresh air.

    There's nothing stopping people from playing 3.5 or PF, or any of the other RPGs out there, and I understand being p.o.'d at WotC for re-setting such a venerable game. But I give them credit. The new D&D may appeal to a different audience, but it's still a QUALITY game that appeals to a lot of people. I never got into 3 or 3.5, but 4 is likely going to get me back into the system, and I can't overlook that.

  54. Kurjak2:49 AM

    After enjoying playing 3.5 the last few years, our gaming group disbanded (for a period).

    Several months ago, my six and four year old discovered a dusty box of my old Basic, 1st and 2nd edition gaming material; We quickly rolled up some characters and immediately began exploring some haunted ruins.

    After a jaunt to the isle of dread, a foray into a sahuaghin stronghold (and several characters and adventures later), these two wide eyed children, hungry for a good story and exciting adventure have reminded me that it doesn't matter what game mechanics you are using, it's the art of (group)storytelly and the satisfaction of enjoying a fun gaming session that counts.

    I'd be happy to pick up 3.5 again, or even familiarise myself with 4th edition, but at the moment the simplicity and flexibility of B/X D&D (with some AD&D rules & mosters) is perfect for our guys.

    Seeing our two kids rolling around with laughter after their characters caused a fist-fight between an ettin's two halves is more rewarding than an XP grind; Equally entertaining was seeing them play out the antics of a nauseated knight, who after being set upon by trogoldytes, finds himself in dire need of removing (and washing) his visored helmet (a sendiment shared by the rest of his party). Game mechanics cannot account for the friendly taunts and references to 'carrots/corn' that ensued.

    I guess I've found (after 25 years of gaming) that its the players who make a game experience rewarding—rather than the game system :]

  55. For the latest pwning of Mikey's campaign see here.

  56. i borrowed a 4e book from a friend, and took a look.

    i just copied interesting powers to my modified 3.5 (which i gave fighters more things to do than "basic attack" second day i DMed so i already had my own "powers" to add to) then given it back to him.

    Players now cutely call my retool "3.9"

    i will never swap to full 4e, the new HP values sound... well MMO-ish and although i am sure damage has been cranked up to 11 to balance it out, a full conversion would kill my Monster creation, Spell Creation, Weapon creation, Armor management and Skill System.

    I know no Rogue that would Trade "Vacuum Tunnel" for "Depth Strike" at least in the parties i DM.

  57. 4e is ridiculous. It's WOW on paper and anyone who can't see this is very delusional.

  58. Anonymous10:34 AM

    ok ya I am a grey beard. played them all.

    now I have tried 4th ed for 5 months and have to make the move back to 3.5. I played wow for 4 years (5 level 80's = sad)why would I want to paper and pencil it. the d&d experience is all about the open end imagination. not the iron clad grip of conformism. 4th edition has utterly dumbed down the game. the low intelligent jock that wanted to hang with the nerds well that was what the fighter class was for. now that is pretty much any of them. the sophisticated flair of the wizards is dead. now his attacks are just a thoughtless magic effect not the careful planned spells of the past. ya his 5 minute work day is gone (woot) but the lack of spell choices hurts ( cant live without it going back to 3.5 and adding some class powers.) the martial power is pretty cool now martial arts can come into play way easier. but the over all simplifications are hard to swallow. saving throws cant live without . the eager look on the PC's face as they roll to miss that fireball priceless. I did have the pleasure of discussing some of the up coming changes with one of the wotc team as they were ongoing but he could not tell me any specifics.
    I knew the 5 minute work day of the wizard was gone but I didn't know they took the creativity of programing your spells. they endless search checks had to go as a dm that uses traps to there fullest. I had done away with the search check for traps long ago. I rolled for the pc if I knew there was a trap. I also frequently rolled the die for no other reason than to make the PC's worry and fret about traps lol.

    I have never stuck hard to any rule set. I constantly add and alter in house rules. and character classes races etc. this was just a lot easier with 3.5 rules. I run a open end story line game. the world took me months to set up and I record the players changes to the world as they know it and alter it to there choices. much like a old choose your own adventure book or a marowind game type scenario. The story line is what it is all about. and with literally thousands of npc's to react with the simplification is enticing but yet they all seam to blur together with the standing 4th ed rules. I like having the multiclass for npcs as it is more realistic. the average adult will change there profession 7 times in there life why would a character not have 3 levels in rouge and 3 in wizard. I also have fought to change over my 3 steady playing groups and I have tried to change over the 20 some people that come and go from my tables. the simple system for characters works but lacks creativity for players which is the whole lure of pencil and paper for me and my players.
    to sum it up I do like a lot of the changes in 4th ed but I think they will be implemented in my old 3.5 table easy enough with out the total face lift. I think the hp system change and others are just to keep people from doing just that. I think I can work around that and give some powers to classes to choose from and keep the old system alive that I have invested too much money into already. the 4th ed core set will go in the box after I retype some of the retro fits to my 3.5 system. and they will store nicely to my collection of boxes of the past systems.

    the cast changes but the story continues forever.

  59. Anonymous5:21 PM

    I Have played 4th, and it left me wanting. I am a dm at heart and when i get a chance to play ,im almost always a wizard. In 3.5 with enough downtime work a wizard could really shine. Sure you have 4 hit points at level one and a solid pillow whaping could ko you in one hit, but you had the chance to become something special if you could survive. I would bye little notebooks and write out my spell book with spell write ups so i didnt have to book hop. I would spend my hard earned gold hiring all manor of helpers and meat shields. I would spend my precious experiance points to forge awesome magic items. Everyone in the realms would learn to respect my terrible power,...but only after i hauled my scrawny ass into horrible death traps and back out again, counting on my wits and good planning to survive. I love D&D but have not had a group to play with in years. Recently my brother in law let me play with his friends in a 4th ed Game. I was excited to build my character and without even thinking said wizard when asked to pick a class. He began explaining thier powers and as i learned the new system my heart sank. I soon understood that no longer could i lovingly progress my character how i saw fit. To be perfectly honest, i felt sick. I played in the game for a few sessions, staring at by little power cards, trying to remeber what my at will powers were, and what my orb specilization did again. How did the rituals work? Why does my summoned monster have half my hp and use my armor class?...I really am sad that with over 2000 dollars of 3-3.5 books sitting on my shelf my only option is playing this worthless crap. You can all keep it if you want, but I'd like to be rewarded for roleplaying my character and carefully crafting my art, from mere cantrips into mighty earthshattering effects. Forth Ed. Sucks, Im gonna go play White Wolf with the cool kids.

  60. Anonymous8:05 PM

    I ended up here while I was looking "How to start playing D&D"
    I decided to check it, since a female co-worker keeps talking about her "Saturdays of D&D" and, hell, it sounds fun. It catched my attention that, she flamed a "4th Ed" (To this point I didn't knew anything about editions and how to play the game)and that her party players are using the 3.5Ed.
    She didn't gave me explanations on how this ruined so much the game, and if she did, it didn't make sense since I was hearing stuff I never heard about.
    I had read many of the comments in here, at least the ones that made clear statements and I fully understand why some ppl love the changes and why others hate it.
    I used to play WoW, since vanilla (stoped on cataclysm)and I constantly read about and heard about how Blizzard was fucking up the game on each expantion released. The main reason, it was getting too casual, too easy.
    For me, it was getting all right, it was going well along with my life style and my playing time. My life was moving to a stage were playing, was now just casual, playing was an luxury, and I tried to enjoy what I liked most of the game(lvling and world pvp) on that hour or 2 that I had once in a while.
    Now, I love board games, I love throwing dice at the table-the sound of it!-, moving pieces, create strategy plans (I like Risk a lot, especially 2210 A.D.); and hearing my co-worker talking about D&D, made me want to look towards learn how to play it, read all about it, I wanted to be able to create those scenarios and imagine all those adventures, not bounded by images in a monitor, no, but bounded by my imagination.
    Well, it came to this, learning that the most recent version of the game, made it casual, made it easy, took some elements, etc.
    Luckily for me, my era of D&D may come while Im on a part of my life, were I can only be casual, were I can dedicate only few hours once a week in pastimes like reading or playing a game.
    I will give 4th Ed a try, because it appears that will be suited for me.
    If I find it really simple and boring, then probably I will be another possible player lost in the try.
    If I find myself enjoying the game, well, i will be thanking this simplier edition and it will be a nice little window to escape this monotonous, boring reality.
    Thank you all whose comments made me decide to give it a try, and I hope you all keep the fun in playing this mind blowing game regardless of the edition you're using.

  61. Further to old school gaming goodness ... my memory of one of the best supplements evah!

    From 1980 ... The Rogues Gallery.

    AD&D at its finest.

  62. Anonymous6:00 PM

    My parents played D&D, and I was raised watching them and my uncle as they explored dungeons. I was raised reading the various AD&D manuals for fun. I ended up playing 2nd edition for the first time when I was 12, and continued until I entered high school. My dad, who DMed, didn't have time anymore. I sadly haven't touched the game since then, and that's why I love 4th edition. It's a great way to get back into the concept of rolling dice and role playing. I'm playing with a group where only two others have had any experience with D&D and one of those two is in the same boat I am; she hasn't played in years. 4th edition is perfect for beginners and people who are rusty. And, though we're playing 4th edition now, we have plans to try out 3.5 once we get more comfortable with everything. I think of it as a gateway drug: People get hooked on 4.0 and then start to dabble in the earlier versions.

    I personally don't think it's "WoW lite", but I also have never played WoW, so I guess I can't really say.

  63. I played from Basic all the way to 3.0 and quit because I hated the way the game was moving. I hated that I had to spend a ton of money to have a game dictated to me, rather than the extremely loose, open-ended game that Gygax developed.

    Now, I'm looking at going back to 4.0 & am not sure. It looks fun, it sounds like it could be, and, more importantly, my wife & daughters sound like they may be interested due to its simplicity.

    If it pulls them away from the computer to interact over a table, I could care less if it's three card Monty or D&D 4.0, it's a family activity where we can interact face-to-face. And, if it doesn't require a 20-30 hour investment per week to run, on top of my job, sports, working out, spending time with animals, more work, hunting, fishing & living, well, it sounds like an easy decision.

  64. Anonymous10:46 PM

    I'm 15 years old and I started with 3.5. I played a year, as the most crazy gnome bard\drunken master. Now 4ed came out, and the only thing I’m missimg in 4ed is that feel that you get in 3.5, that feel of mystery. Making up prestige classes as we go along, exploring the forgotten realms. I once took a vow (which I later violated) to protect a dragon’s eggs, and levled up in a prestige class called “dragon- egg guardian”. Each class was truly unique, and had different ways to represent “resources”- slots for the wizard, rage counter for the barbarian, songs per day for the bard. An “encounter” wasn’t defined so strictly. Also, there was no way for one fighter to be like another.

    I liked the multiclass “orgy”, it made characters special, something to remember. Our wizard had a spell called “rain of souls” that spawned random ghosts. We had to go through an adventure for him to create it. Now it’s all… gone.

    And I’ve played 4ed. My dm insists on “upgrading” to the next version. And I don’t like it.

    Sorry about my bad English, it’s not my first language (I’m from Israel)

  65. Anonymous10:52 PM

    (it's the Israeli kid, I'm adding to my comment above)
    The whole idea of epic characters was also brutally slain in 4ed.

  66. At the risk of pimping out my blog then for those of you who were '80s or '90s (A)D&D players then check out this post (and respond with your character deets!)


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