4E is nothing but the results of changing what didn’t need to be changed, adding what didn’t need to be added, removing the core iconic features, taking the the fiddly bits in a rpg turned up to 11 while removing the role-play aspects of the game we all know and love.
I did my best to give 4E a fair shake.
- I did my best to overlook the power-gaming kewl elements of finally being allowed to natively play a dragon-born. Feel free to try to justify this in any aspect. As far as I’m concerned, coming to my table with some hokey “I want to have dragon heritage” character background ideas went out of style when we all left Junior High.
Yes, yes I know. This is simply a natural extension of the prestige class sorcerers and bards can ascribe to in 3E. Well, we don’t want me to get sidetracked too much on what’s wrong with that now do we? As an aside, I could go look up the paragraph in the AD&D DM Guide that addresses allowing players to play the roles of monsters, but I’m sure that would just elicit cries of old-school elitism or some idiocy like it. – KO
- I decided to try to ignore the obvious question of who decided elves need a new name. I mean, come on, when the unwashed masses think of fantasy role-playing I’m sure that over 90% of them think of dwarves, elves and humans battling dragons. Why change elves and not dwarves? What possible logic were you listening to when you decided this was a good idea? Who’s brainchild was this?
- I actually like the skill challenge methodology. It’s interesting, fair, and eliminates the coin-flip nature of success/fail that sometimes crops up in games. This part I can agree works.
So ignoring the obvious, here’s what really irks me about the rule set.
Once again I look at the nature of the rules as a whole and discover in a moment of pure brilliance that we’re back to the roots of D&D; namely Miniatures War gaming. Take a hard look at what aspects of the game they’ve chosen to highlight. My starter set comes with some nifty tiles to, I presume, take the burden of someone describing the world sufficiently enough for us all to imagine it properly… wouldn’t want to tax our imaginations too much now would we?
The rulebooks I have go in great detail to explain the hazards of terrain in a dungeon and how these things affect the actions of the participants. There’s rules for how many squares you can move and the like… this is starting to sound an awful lot like a boardgame to me. And I for one don’t like it.
There’s no real roleplay aspects to tabletop miniatures; no more than say Chess. But that’s where I think the rules send the players. The rules aren’t designed for players to imagine a person in a world with boundless possibility. They’re not playing the characters anymore, they’re playing the numbers. And the environment is playing the same numbers right back at them. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
That’s one major stumbling block to my immersion in the game. Let’s move on to the real fun-killer.
In essence I realized this morning that 4E essentially evens out the playing field, not by addressing what’s (in my opinion) wrong with the previous editions, but rather by compounding a long standing issue by applying it to everyone at the table. In the past only magic-users had to wonder if now was the right time to expend a certain (or their only) spell. Now everyone’s been saddled with that concern. Yeah, that’s fair… and fun too.
Here’s an idea, how about we make things easier for everyone at the table. I’ll just assign everyone’s powers and skills to cards and we’ll handle conflict resolution in duel format. You can draw cards at the beginning of the game, encounter, day, etc. and spend them when your turn occurs. That way you won’t be distracted by those things on your character sheet that don’t apply to the situation. How’s that sound? We can just play it as a card game.
To be fair, I’m not opposed to people enjoying this means of fun. If you like it, then more power to you. But I won’t be at the table when you break out a session. I’ve got better things to do with my game time than to wonder if this is the right time to use some special skill or power. If I want to play a boardgame I’ll do so. A card game disguised as a rpg? Feel free to deal me out.