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Frankthedm

D&D 4E seems to be looming ahead.

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A couple things for clarity for those who don't feel like sifting through the chaff that is the wizards message boards as the wheat kernels seem few and far between.

 

First and foremost is that DnD will still be a pen and paper game as we know and play it today.(Just different rules)

 

The OGL is going to be there so there will be other companies continuing their own setting using the same ruleset.

 

The online stuff will be a monthly($ TBD) fee and is going to entail the following:

an electronic form of Dragon and Dungeon magazines

A character creator so that you can make a pretty picture and 3d rendering of your character

A digital table top. Where A DM will go and build an adventure and then you get to join the adventure with friends and the aforementioned character. This is not a video game it is just your kitchen table digitized. Your group logs in and there are chat functions... it's works like DnD via teleconference but you're all logged into the video representation too.

 

 

So all that being said. What little tid bits and snippets of info that I could find about the mechanics makes it interesting. They are based off of two major sources. Tome of Battle:the Book of Nine Swords, and the new Star Wars Saga Edition Rule set.

Here's somethings:

Racial modifiers seem to take play up too tenth level.

Epic level play will be in the PHB this time.(there's a stream of questions about so is Epic core now? Epic was core in 3.5 when they tossed it into the DMG, and I remember the Epic Handbook from second)

The gap of power curve between a fighter being the is all master at low level and the Wizard being it at higher levels is being closed with a high fighter being able to do cinematic level type stuff at the higher levels and low wizards not doing the whoops out of spells here's my trusty cross bow and shoot at the kobold.

They keep talking about smoother flow of the encounter and gameplay, but I'm not exactly sure as the specifics are really spotty. There's mention of a shakeup to action progression of the round and attack / damage resolution.

 

Now the stuff at the top of this post is all fact. I've checked it twice and from different sources. The mechanics part is only speculation from what they have put out in some FAQ's and the Design and Development articles.

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It has helped draw in more people to the hobby that are used to pushing a couple buttons and getting results.

 

Hmmm. Very sig-worthy.

 

Because it's the truth. I'm from that generation that grew up playing computer games. Though I did play many other rpgs before DnD. I was introduced to DnD as the youngest guy in the group by a solid 5 years and this was in 97 and I was just graduated from High school. So 3ed was a good mechanic to me and 3.5 while irritating in it's compatible but incompatibleness forced me to print out the SRD and Stuff it into a little folder for over a year and a half (until I came across a website I could grab most of the books for $15). Though that's never bothered me one bit, despite the looks from people when I would show up for the Living Greyhawk game days with it. No one would say anything negative it was more of a "this guy must be really broke" kinda look. In fact I still have it in my stack of convention stuff just so I can hand it to a new guy (usually it's a returning old hat), and say here's the rules for you to read over and give it back when you're done. Then they don't feel like they're bothering someone by having to borrow someones rule book.

 

Now the fact is though DnD has to compete with World of Warcraft. Where people can log in and wander around and slay some stuff 24-7 and gain instant gratification with a pretty dynamic gameplay system. Quite frankly I think their attempt at a buisness model for DnD is a good one as far as being able to continue the sustainability of the game by bringing in the new future market and trying to revive interest from past players. Remember that whenever DnD has fallen on hard time so has the whole industry. One of the few things that I feel they have realized is that they can't really crap this down peoples throats. The attitude seems to be one of we're going to try and offer all this additional content but there's no inherent tie to it.

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Two things.....

 

OGL will be there but different....I don't know any publishers that have signed.

 

and you are right Wotc sees and like the suscription models of MMOG. It is easy to bank on etc... a steady flow of $$$ is always good.

(You can actually see the dollars signs flashing in thier eyes)

 

Problem is: The subscrption has to give you something tangible. (MMOG don't, the charge you for your enjoyment, when it stops being fun .. subscribers drop out...)

All they have promised thus far is magazine content 3x a week. A character generator (Yawn) and a method to host games online.. (Beware online tabletops.. I see this as being made proprietary especially for thier campaign games)

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And I've read that access to the online gaming table will be limited to three times per month.

 

I read a great response to 4.0 on another forum and I fully agree. When the fanboiz all upgrade to 4.0 I'll be able to pick up tons of 3.5 books at Half Price Books. And then when it fails to engage, ditto for the dumped 4.0 ones.

 

So I'm in a win-win as far as source materials go.

 

I'm sitting back and letting the rumors flow. With everything I've been reading it looks like WotC is floating this out there to get audience reaction as much as for a new version. Given they want to release it next year they're being very vague about a lot of core mechanics. But they do know how long the books are going to be?

 

I officially feel D&D has no longer become a WotC product and is now just one of the Hasbro lines. And not in a good way, if there is a good way.

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My personal feeling on all of this is that I'm going to reserve judgement of any sort until it comes out. I'll buy the PHB, if only out of sheer curiosity. I'm definitely curious as what changes they've made. However I have absolutely no use for any of the online crap whatsoever, and refuse on principle to shell out per month on anything other than my utility and insurance bills. Unless I'm mistaken, they're already doing a D&D online game and if I really want to play online I'd sign up for that and get something worth the money I'd be paying for it. I already have a character generator - it's in my head. I can still quote you half the THAC0 charts from first edition. I do like the idea of the online tabletop, though. It's good for folks who don't have a local group. But paying to be able to use it a limited number of times per month?

I'll bet within three or four months of their subscription service going online, somebody'll start up a place on the net where you can get most of their content for free. It's not like Hasbro's gonna be able to stop people from screen-capping and reprinting all their stuff. I think maybe Hasbro might be a bit blinded by dollar signs on this one. I understand perfectly the need to charge some kind of fee for a service like that, but let's hope they're not thinking they can charge the same kind of money as the MMO's...

 

But, as I said, I'll wait and see... It's not like they're going to come and take away my 3.5 books.

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I'll bet within three or four months of their subscription service going online, somebody'll start up a place on the net where you can get most of their content for free. It's not like Hasbro's gonna be able to stop people from screen-capping and reprinting all their stuff. I think maybe Hasbro might be a bit blinded by dollar signs on this one. I understand perfectly the need to charge some kind of fee for a service like that, but let's hope they're not thinking they can charge the same kind of money as the MMO's...

If I'm not mistaken, I think there already are programs out like this. If not, how hard is it to add a random dice roller program to a chat?

Hmm, me and my programmer friends might have to take a look at this.

 

Edit:

Google is your friend: Gametable

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I'll bet within three or four months of their subscription service going online, somebody'll start up a place on the net where you can get most of their content for free. It's not like Hasbro's gonna be able to stop people from screen-capping and reprinting all their stuff. I think maybe Hasbro might be a bit blinded by dollar signs on this one. I understand perfectly the need to charge some kind of fee for a service like that, but let's hope they're not thinking they can charge the same kind of money as the MMO's...

If I'm not mistaken, I think there already are programs out like this. If not, how hard is it to add a random dice roller program to a chat?

Hmm, me and my programmer friends might have to take a look at this.

 

Edit:

Google is your friend: Gametable

 

 

Gametable has stopped being developed.

There are a lot of these.

 

Fantasy Grounds 2 ($$)

Battlegrounds ($)

openrpg (Freebie)

D20 pro. (if you want to play NWN style from AOL) again ($$)

AIM chat room has a dice roller, and got me started..

KloogeWerks Java-based. Steep learning curve, but powerful.

ViewingDale Windows-only.

Screen Monkey

Roleplaying Master

Grip

 

I saw thier release and was less than impressed...I certainly won't be paying for content..

I doubt any but the most hard core will get thier moneys worth for the content..

and I believe they said the subscription was going to be less than a MMOG.

 

I'd advise them to rethink that.

Thier target has been 11-19 year olds for seven years now..

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Very underwhelmed myself. And I was at the announcement, the D&D Q&A (one of the few, since they chose the SMALLEST CONFERENCE ROOM I'VE EVER SEEN at Gen Con - and then sprinkled it with their own people), as well as the DDM and SW Q&A...

 

Aw, man! I was there too! Shame I missed you...

 

I'm still not sure about all of this. I emptied all my bile about having to buy new books when 3.5 was announced (but that was my own fault I guess; we held off on adopting 3.0 until about two months before 3.5 was announced. That, and I'm a little more laid back these days) so I'm not going to flip out on that.

 

I'm more of the crowd that eyes the whole computer component suspiciously. The machine's never really deserved a place at our role playing table and I worry that it reduces the social aspect of the game, but I'll have to wait & see. Of course, it's also quite likely that the world has passed me by. Don't get me wrong; I'm on friendly terms with computers having made a good living with them, but it's the human aspect of the game that I enjoy so much and I worry a little that our society's doing so much to reduce social interaction...bigger problem though. I'd just hate it if my kids wound up "playing D&D" through a computer and not experiencing the live, all-around-the-table fun I got to enjoy.

 

I can say that at the announcement at Gen Con there was a mixed reaction. Someone even shouted out, "When will 4.5 be released?" But one thing I wonder about that is, would there ever actually be a 4.5? If you have the license and a corresponding PDF that goes with it, they could, theoretically, just update the PDF you have access to if a 4.5 is ever required...just musing.

 

At the root of it, though, I blame the suits if blame needs to be assigned. What better than to tap into the kind of annuity payoff WoW is experiencing, or so I'm guessing they're thinking. And, who's to say? If the online product is excellent enough, then I guess they deserve it. I'll probably never know, however, as I doubt I'm going to get an account.

 

My main concerns are technical in nature. If supplemental rulesets (like the Complete Adventurer or whatever) are published online and a DM does not wish to include them, I'm not clear on how that can be prevented if the players buy them. Further, if an account is active and then the subscriber deactivates it (for whatever reason) only to reactivate it later, do they still have access to the online supplements they had? What about new ones released in the interim? There are answers for all this, of course, but that's where my head is at on this subject.

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Ah, I had one other point. Regardless of what you think about 4.0 or WotC in general, I have to believe that they had to be the most reviled vendor at Gen Con. Think about it. Thursday night, before the weekend when the masses really show up, they announce 4.0. How many vendors there had 3.5 product to push? Granted, some won't adopt, but selling obsolete (ok, soon to be obsolete) material is TOUGH to do.

 

Plus (and maybe this is reading a little too much into it, I'll grant you), WotC essentially declared war on everyone else in the D&D-related industry. They've reined in on Dragon and Dungeon magazines from Paizo, who are also just in the natal stages of their 3.5 compatible Pathfinder series. The online system will allow you to: customize a miniature (who needs Reaper, etc. anymore?), roll dice (who needs Chessex, etc. anymore?), build your character (who needs HeroLab, etc. anymore?), design your dungeon (who needs Campaign Cartographer, etc. anymore?), map your progress (who needs SteelSqwire's flipmats anymore?)...

 

You get my point. Now before the flames start, I acknowledge that's a bit of a dramatic statement. People paint minis for reasons other than D&D, I get it. And people will still need the physical stuff because many if not most will keep playing face-to-face, etc. But it does make you wonder if this move is "good for WotC, bad for everyone else."

 

-BP...still thinkin'

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But it does make you wonder if this move is "good for WotC, bad for everyone else."

Nah, there are many more of us that are into it for the social aspect. I use a laptop and a 17" LCD for my DM screen with all my books in PDF form with quick links to many of the rules and charts, but I would never game online in favor of getting together with the group.

I see the online feature as merely a way for those who don't have a group in their area to get into a game. I see it doing poorly though, as there have been programs like this in the past that were free and didn't really affect group gaming.

I also don't see how WotC could stop anyone from creating a chat, with a random dice roller, with an area for pictures (maps) and a customizable avatar (miniatures), with voice chat. Many of the chat programs out there already have many of these features added in.

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Well, are we really their target audience any more? Or are they trying to get the 'online crowd' and push the pen and paper folks to the side?

 

So much of what I'm hearing hinges on the online component of the game that it makes me sad. I don't play games online. I choose not to do this. I like sitting down with my books and my friends.

 

How long until the online material outpaces the books? How long until the online material is canon and the books are outmoded? (Draw your own comparison to the Warlord manual and the Chronicles here.)

 

It may or may not have been their intention but they seem to be alienating the very people who made TSR/WotC the company to buy. Online customers are fickle beasties. They don't have any real loyalty to a company and like 'the next cool thing'.

 

It is going to be very difficult for them to bring the old timers with the most disposable income back into the fold if this continues. Looking at the constant revenue stream of online games and subscriptions may please the accountants but they may find a nasty shock once all the trial periods end.

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WEll lets keep the two seperate. If possible 4.0 is 4.0.... and the electronic content is what it is.

 

By the way Gen con is a WOTC event in genreal they pump a lot of $$$ into that Convention... Hit Dragon con.... I am sure they mood will be a whole lot cooler towards WOTC in general.

WOTC is on top of the roleplaying heap right now..But I believe after the announcements were made they have now peaked and are looking at a luge ride down....That's my own pronostication.

 

I believe 4.0 and LFR will be successful, at least nothing in thier past leads me to believe they won't be.

 

 

Electronic content.... OI have they ever reeased a successful electronic version of anything D&D related... That's going to be the stinker I think..now depends on how the hedge thier bets..

 

Can they get publishers to sign on to the ogl?

Can they stop people from playing 3.5? or 3.0?

Will other pubs go on the attack with thier own rulesets?

 

It's a crowded market...

Wotc is just as capable of turning out crap.. and hamstringing themselves

 

I think wotc see it as two players.. the traditionalist.. who has a gaming group and can enjoy the social aspect.

The remote user who doesn't have a bunch with which to play.

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I'm in it for the social aspect as well. The only reason that the online portion would appeal to me is that many of my older RPG friends have scattered to the four winds. We've talked about doing online playing, but someone in the group always balks at trying to download and install some gaming software.

 

The big difference in WotC's offering and the previously available offerings is that as a subscription service hosted by a company with considerable financial resources, the system is likely to be easier to set up and use, have decent support and be around for awhile. So I wouldn't entirely weigh their success based on the previous offerings. I think one of the tantamount things to the success of the online game table is going to be whether or not you can buy a module or adventure, and have the maps already available to you for the online table. They're going to have to make it incredibly easy for the GM to use the service - most of us barely have time to write our own adventures and NPCs, let alone get online and make maps for them. The more content they have there in regards to maps and such will go a long way towards the success of the subscription based model they're aiming at.

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I think wotc see it as two players.. the traditionalist.. who has a gaming group and can enjoy the social aspect.

The remote user who doesn't have a bunch with which to play.

There's a middle group in there as well - the RPGA player. A lot of RPGA players don't have a regular group, or can't play on a regular schedule, and the RPGA modules fill that need for them without the dedication of a regular group by playing at cons or game days. Those are the players who are going to be forced to upgrade to 4.0, because WotC has already announced that the RPGA will switch. However, this could spell the death knell for the RPGA. They've already alienated several RPGA players by forcing out the 3rd party publishers, then ending all of the Living Campaigns save Living Greyhawk, and now they've announced that one is going bye bye, too. It will be replaced by Living Forgotten Realms. Will the RPGA players make the switch? The fewer that do, the harder time the RPGA and 4th edition will have.

 

I think WotC is counting on the RPGA to help force the adaption of 4.0. We'll see how well that pans out.

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Speaking of the computer aspect in this debate, I wonder how/if they plan on integrating the new ruleset into their online game. As far as I know that is based on the 3.5rules though i never tried it...

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