Saturday, June 14, 2008

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - 4th Edition!

<sigh>  Do memory and history really fade that fast?  Has it been that long since we all said how fucked up version 3.0 of DnD was?  Well, like it or not, here it comes.  My thoughts about 4th edition.  I have spend a good deal of time today laughing at the corerules group (the 2nd edition die hards.. they’re truly funny in their hatred of anything newer than the fiend folio...) and the 3.5 foamers society on a certain large website that used to be free but is now pay-per-view...

And so you know, I am from the camp that KNEW I was going to hate 4th edition..  I knew it was going to suck.

And suck it does.  It sucks at winning over the crowd that still plays 2nd edition.  It sucks at convincing people it’s not WoW on paper.  It sucks at convincing people to just give it a damn chance.  I blame this suckage on the really brilliant marketing guys at WotC.  I say brilliant, because they came up with the awesome idea of releasing some teasers for the new system in perfect bound format months before the rollout.  This worked on so many levels it hurts.  First, they cost about $2.95 to make and they charged $19.95 or somesuch for them.  BRILLIANT <cut to animated Guinness guys>.  Second, they got free market research to gauge to overall acceptance of the new system ideas before putting the main books in the print process and not having a chance to tweak them as needed.  BRILLIANT <same guys>

What they should have done was spent a bit more time working over the hard core fans.  When you make many changes to a system that has die hard loyalists, you’re screwed as a publisher.  If you update it, you make happy new fans, but you piss off a percentage of the old guys.  Well, 4th edition is no exception and it will piss off some of the die hards.  The min-max players will never go to 4th edition, that’s a given.  They still haven’t left 2nd edition, which, in their eyes, is the only true game.

Trust me when I say that most 2nd edition hold outs generally still live with their parents, have the same job they had at 17 and are now 40 and have the same car as well.  They can quote the exact page and paragraph of the Dragon magazine article detailing the actual shape of a cone shaped spell effect and they sneer at Magic CCG players are lower life forms.  Some have not bathed since the job interview (yes, the one at 17...)  Now, to be fair, some 2nd edition hold outs are there because of their investment in the system or the inherent flexibility of that edition.  I’m not trying to label all of them, just the foamers that go to conventions with 30 year old tee-shirts, taking pride in telling you how they used to game with Gygax and have the first set of Magic cards ever printed.  (In my humble survey, Gary Gygax played D&D regularly with about 9,348 people weekly from 1973 through 1984.)  (BTW wanna see my original brown box set of original rules, baby?? - that line gets me laid at every convention.)

On to 4th edition - Is it dumbed down...?  I don’t think so.  Unless you consider simplifying the system a bit and renaming some things dumb.  Is it a little less flexible?  I think so, right now.  I think the biggest thing that all the nay-sayers are forgetting is how gaming works.  WotC puts out a framework of rules, then they add sourcebooks, campaign settings and more, ad infinatum.  This is how they make money, people, WAKE UP!  WotC is not the enemy, and they are in business to make money too.  Before you label them the evil empire, just remember that they announced next week the OGL for 4th edition will be published.  That means you can RIP-OFF their ideas and make money too.

So, yes, there are going to be quite a few VERY similar wizards and rogues running around for a few months.  Then the deluge of $ettings,  $ourcebooks and tome$ will hit the game stores and all the min-maxers will be happy as pigs in shit.

Does the new Skills and Powers system make sense, You bet it does.  For those 3.5 edition foamers who scream bloody murder about the lack of utility clerics have, I say simply, READ THE FUCKING MANUAL, you puerile moron.  Play through it a time or two.  See how it works.  Then eat your words, happily, with some ranch dip.  The new skills/powers system makes spell-casters even more inviting to play, balance that with every one else's powers and you have a system that really ties the roles together making a party work well.  I know some people hate they way they explain roles in the party, but it’s simply a case of WotC putting a name on something we have all known/done for years.  Just because a particular classes role says “leader” does not mean they intend that character/player to be the party leader.  THINK people, that is not written anywhere.  If there is any dumbing down in these books, it’s the people who read just what they want, quote it to everyone and then feel superior.  (Fucktard is my name for that person)

Is 4th edition perfect?  Nope.

Do I think that my argument about flexibility, dumbing down and $$$ has a huge flaw that you are ready to throw in my face? ... yep!

(What is that flaw, oh gibbering mouther of DnD wisdom?)

Why on earth should I have to PAY for flexibility that should be in the core rules???  I bought three books already, why should I have to pay more to get what i ALREADY have with 2.0 or 3.0 or 3.5? <said in the whiny tone that seems to accompany alot of ADnD players>

My answer - simply, Life in the big city kid.  <Imagine me grabbing my suspenders, puffing up a bit and saying>  You know, when I started DnD, we had 4 classes, YEAH 4, and we liked ‘em.  No specialist mages, no whiny ass paladins, no crappy tree hugging druids.  NOPE. we played, fighters, mages, clerics and thieves.

In truth, WotC did something subtle here, and it will go over most people’s heads.  They designed a VERY open system and put into the core books more of what needs to be there and less crap.  The fluff will come later, and they know it.  That is why the OGL comes out AFTER the release of the books.  They could very easily have released it long ago and had a flood of material available on launch day.  Remember that took a long hard look at 2 scenarios for launch, the one where they are the only player on launch day and get a little extra profit, but there is also a scenario where they share launch day with all the other publishers making material for the system.  Selling sourcebooks and such drive core manual sales, marketing 101.  They didn’t do it because they wanted that month long head start to let the system sink in.  Lest you think it was just them being evil, realize this, they have NO books set for release next month, just sheets and DM screens.  They’re giving the other publishers a chance to get their stuff out there.

So, in closing.  I LOVE 4th EDITION - IT’S COOL!

It’s also not for everyone, so, to all you basement 2nd ed guys - roll on!!!  You haven’t seen your dick in years, no sense looking for it now...  It’s friday night, you’re gaming (and I’m writing about gaming... what a fracking hypocrite) and life is good.  Grab me a PBR and I’m rolling up a 5th level ninja trained multi-classed psionicist/wu-jen master with scale mail and a +2 nunchuk!

And for all the fucktards who haven’t even read it, but post merrily away in public forums, i feel for you, I really do.  Chances are you’re one step ahead of the basement guy in evolution, in other words, you’re the night manager at the 7-11 you worked at when you were 17, and you managed to get a newer used car 4 years ago.  You probably moved out of mom’s place a year ago into that cool 2 roomer downtown by the tracks.  Good on ya!!!  You can come game over here any time... I have some pre-generated 4th edition characters here!!!

To the rest of the free thinking world, come on over.  We’ll play a rousing game or two, have some fun and enjoy the new system.  It’s pretty easy to do if you can read, write and form a full sentence.  Oh, having some imagination will help, since 4th edition will not spoon feed you your every role-playing moment. (yet)

And now... the comment trail...


Okay!  I'll try it.  You convinced me.  You just don't have to be so angry about it.  I am afraid the veins are going to blow out of your forehead.  I'll give it a try just to save your life. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008 - 10:00 AM

McLovin It

Fuck yeah! Finally a sensible review of 4E! For the haters out there, stick to 3.5 and forever suck with the cheezers and others who have failed to crawl out of the RPG dark ages. The new system may not be perfect but it is a massive leap forward in a recalcitrant  game design that was complex, open to lack of party cohesion and a snore-fest in combat.

4E is raw and more encouraging of teamwork plus class balancing - how could this be bad? WoTC have balls the size of mountains to take the beloved D&D are bring it kicking and screaming into the modern era. So they've borrowd from MMORPG's? Good! How many people play WoW, by the way? It's the synergy of abilities that makes it work so well in group play. In no way do the new rules effect roleplaying (c'mon, seriously, how can anyone say that rules restrict RP in ANY system?), and personally I like detailed maps and boards to move characters around on in combat.

Suck it up you purist pussies and accept that nothing stays the same forever. Have the courage to try the game and customise it to suit your tastes. Fer christ sakes, it's HIGH FANTASY!! You know, where heroes kick the shit out of things, plan to kick the shit out of things, or get the shit kicked out of them then plan revenge on the things that kicked the shit out of them first. Sometimes you get treasure, maybe score some hot elf ass (male or female depending on your persuasion) and definitely hang out in taverns.

What more do you want?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 - 11:45 PM


lol, what? Is it possible that some people just like an older edition of a game? I guess you did say that there are people like that, so as one of them I wanna chime in. I'm actually in my early 20s, and I used to go the library (got ourselves a private room) and game with my buddies with 2nd Edition when I was like 12.

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 7, 2008 - 11:52 AM

Bill Castello


It's a free world, keep playing 1.0, 2.0, whatever you like :)  Enjoy, just keep playing.  Just remember that with DnD 4th Edition, we're going back to the role-playing aspect that the very first edition was famous for.  My only beef on 2nd edition is the huge playground for the min-maxers it provides.  That's also where 3.5 was heading, even though when it first came out it tried to do away with that.

Keep playing, have fun, and remember my opinion matters to NOBODY but me :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008 - 09:40 PM