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D&D 4th Edition... Thoughts?

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My friends and I have been wondering if the recent death of Gary Gygax somehow "enabled" this radical departure/complate abandonment of D&D as we know it. As a 1st generation D&D player, I have to confess a certain lack of enthusiasm for the 4th edition.

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I'm not saying I agree with it, but within the presented framework in the 4e book of Powers Per Day, they had to either end up with dozens of PPD broken down by level, etc, or go simplicity and say 2 at-will PPD.

 

Otherwise, the PPD slots look like this:

At will_________Encounter______Daily______Utility

Level 1/2/3/4/5/6/ (etc.)1/2/3/4/5/6/ (etc.)1/2/3/4/5/6/ (etc.)1/2/3/4/5/6/ (etc.)

_____4/3/3/3/2/2/1__4/3/3/3/2/2/1__4/3/3/3/2/2/1__4/3/3/3/2/2/1

 

That's mind bogglingly complex,and I only carried it out to 6 levels....

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My friends and I have been wondering if the recent death of Gary Gygax somehow "enabled" this radical departure/complate abandonment of D&D as we know it.

I don't see how: Gary Gygax has been outside of any D&D development for over a decade (I think). And, his death was recent enough that any proposed changes would likely have been pretty much fixed in stone by the time of his death given long lead times for printing enough books.

 

Ron

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I'm not saying I agree with it, but within the presented framework in the 4e book of Powers Per Day, they had to either end up with dozens of PPD broken down by level, etc, or go simplicity and say 2 at-will PPD.

 

Which goes back to the "Doesn't make sense" bit of it all (for a lot of the stuff...works well for a game being DMed by a server...not so much for a DM with a more or less beating heart).

 

The example with the rogue and kidney punch given above - DM rulings are pretty easy. The rogue uses the trick once, nails their opponent. The next time he uses the skill the opponent is prepared for that trick and knocks the rogue on the back of the head when he uses his feint. Power per encounter issue solved and it actually makes sense without trying to stuff it into a hole that a computer can deal with. That is the power of the DM - to make decisions.

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Which goes back to the "Doesn't make sense" bit of it all (for a lot of the stuff...works well for a game being DMed by a server...not so much for a DM with a more or less beating heart).

 

The example with the rogue and kidney punch given above - DM rulings are pretty easy. The rogue uses the trick once, nails their opponent. The next time he uses the skill the opponent is prepared for that trick and knocks the rogue on the back of the head when he uses his feint. Power per encounter issue solved and it actually makes sense without trying to stuff it into a hole that a computer can deal with. That is the power of the DM - to make decisions.

Also makes sense when you try to normalize across DMs (for example, with their Living City and RPGA games/campaigns). No howls of whining: "hey, Bob let me use that kidney punch twice in each encounter!"

 

Ron

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I remember some of the players when I was in service. There were two of us DMing that had people enjoying our campaigns, but some of the hard core players would never play with us.

 

The reason was simple when I found out. They liked our adventures, but they didn't like that we would not let them get away with what they could brow beat the other DM's into allowing.

 

A good DM can control a lot of things, and run a better game. There are a lot of DM's, however, that could use the help of a specific rules structure to control some of their players. When they get better, they can handle the oafs, but it's easier to control some players with written rules instead of common sense.

 

I spent a day away from this party, so forgive a bit of a backtrack:

Not quite. WotC has had 3 in 8 years using the same designations as those in my list (I included revisions and x.5 versions as new versions). It is also important to remember the circumstances surrounding the first couple versions of Vampire and the first couple versions of GURPS. Both utilized new systems with new concepts that were not play tested fully. Once those initial growing pains were over come - they jumped up to 6-8 years or more.

 

TSR had a version cycle of 10+ years as well.

 

WotC...4 years ish.

 

Also keep in mind the question is the time between versions. Deadlands for example isn't 4 years it is 5 years (three versions spaced an average of 5 years; i.e. - 1st (1996)...5 years...Revised (2001 - actually 1999, but for terms of this illustration)...5 years...Reloaded (2006)...the important issue being that time between the versions).

 

My contention was with your 5 year comment - which almost all the games which have thrived keep a cycle over 5 years (and plays well into the idea that after 5 years a gamer is hooked for life).

I played with numbers largely to illustrate that numbers can be spun to support a lot of arguments, especially when using averages with a limited number of entries. Flip a coin, and you have a 50% chance of getting heads on each flip. With two tries, you'll get all heads 25% of the time. The more attempts you try, the more the average will apply, and the chance of all heads drops significantly.

 

I don't see any of the successful RPG's being tied to a specific revision plan. Even for those that have a history that might suggest it, or fans that fear it, there is too little evidence to show it is planned, and no specific evidence from their boardroom. Whether through deliberate intent, or simple happenstance, several of the long term RPG's have had at least as many editions as D&D within a set time frame. Whether each minor revision should count or not is a matter of opinion.

 

I have two versions of Space Opera on my shelf, even though their was only one edition published that I know of. One is a later printing, where some character development rules were changed significantly, but not enough for them to want to declare it a new edition. 7th Sea took a similar tack, though they put out a special booklet to update existing players on the changes in what was only a 2nd printing. 3.5 had less impact on the game than either of those from my perspective.

 

Some official edition changes have had less imapct on play mechanics once characters were created (ex: GURPS), and others more (ex: Deadlands). What makes a new edition is the company says it's a new edition. Normally, that means significant changes have been made. What is significant will vary with the player.

 

In the end, the averages mean little. Some games have changed frequently. Some games changed frequently, but all the changes were concentrated within an earlier time. Some games have changed frequently, with the changes spread more evenly, or concentrated in other time frames. All the games that changed had to retain players, and continue to add new players, sufficiently to remain viable games.

 

Having started with D&D in '78, I can agree that 4th is a very different game. Of course, from my perspective, so was 3rd, which started development under TSR. Some people have said they felt the feel remained the same from 2nd to 3rd. That is a viable opinion, but it is only opinion. Mine is equally valid, because both are only opinion, and for me, there was a significant change in the flavor of the game.

 

While 3rd was still a playable game, it was very different in feel for me. That's to be expected, because what holds players to a game will be as variable as the gamers themselves.

 

For those that worry about changing a campaign from 3rd to 4th, I can understand. I've changed campaigns between more diverse game systems, and it's always a task you have to decide is worth the effort. The nice part is that you don't have to if you don't want to, just as you don't have to change to 4th at all if you don't want to.

 

I agree with the arguments that what we learn, we remember. Of course, remembering, and retaining the physical ability to perform the task, will vary quite a bit between different people. Even remembering and accurate recall of those memories will vary.

 

That said, however, the physical constraints of our world rarely apply to RPG characters. Every game uses different appraoches to creating and using characters. No edition of D&D has ever been high on the realism end for simulating things. A lot of things don't make sense. Real armor doesn't make you harder to hit, it reduces the amount of damage a weapon will normally do. Experienced fighters can't take that much more damage than a beginner, they become better at defending themselves so they don't get hit. A dextrous fighter is not less capable of learning to pick a lock than a rogue, though they might not have as much interest. A single solid hit from any weapon made for combat can kill anyone, without them having to be helpless, and without the wielder having special skills.

 

D&D can use technobabble to explain its approach, but in the end, it is just the ways they came up with to make characters shine within a class/level based game. Realism doesn't matter if people can ignore it and just have fun. If you're more worried about realism, find another game that mirrors it better for you. D&D works for a lot of people, or it wouldn't still be around.

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The example with the rogue and kidney punch given above - DM rulings are pretty easy. The rogue uses the trick once, nails their opponent. The next time he uses the skill the opponent is prepared for that trick and knocks the rogue on the back of the head when he uses his feint. Power per encounter issue solved and it actually makes sense without trying to stuff it into a hole that a computer can deal with. That is the power of the DM - to make decisions.

See - this is why Kidney Punch is a once per encounter - the rules already acocunt for the unlikelyhood of such a trick working twice.

 

I still fail to see a problem with that, alhtough I understand the power retraining - you'd rather have access to 20 powers you never use than lose that access just because you;re higher level than them.

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Since I find it a humorous couterpoint to the Kidney Punch idea, a simple story.

 

The chief instructor at a martial arts dojo I worked through was working with a brawler. The guy was not really into good technique, he used his size for intimidation on the mat. Against some of the other new fighters, he'd had good success. He stood about 6'5", while the chief instructor was about 5'7".

 

Time and again, he'd rush the chief instructor, who'd sidestep, and drop him to the mat with a Kidney Punch. After each drop, they'd go again.

 

It isn't just what you know to do, but how well you opponent learns from what you do. Of course, his inability to see and learn from what was happening to him over and over 'didn't make sense,' either.

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A friend played the demo this past Saturday for the world release event. He had fun, despite being the only "1.0" player at the table. Many of the younger players had no idea what that was. My friend had a good time, and some funny stories, which I don't want to spoil the initial adventure with, if you may play it yourself. My other friends are busy reading their electronic copies and forumlating their own opinions, but from all I've heard, I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. I may one day play, if I like the group, but I doubt the game will have me looking to start up this game. Ah the times they are a changin'.

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The example with the rogue and kidney punch given above - DM rulings are pretty easy. The rogue uses the trick once, nails their opponent. The next time he uses the skill the opponent is prepared for that trick and knocks the rogue on the back of the head when he uses his feint. Power per encounter issue solved and it actually makes sense without trying to stuff it into a hole that a computer can deal with. That is the power of the DM - to make decisions.

See - this is why Kidney Punch is a once per encounter - the rules already acocunt for the unlikelyhood of such a trick working twice.

 

I still fail to see a problem with that, alhtough I understand the power retraining - you'd rather have access to 20 powers you never use than lose that access just because you;re higher level than them.

 

I guess I wasn't quite clear enough. The DM makes a ruling as to whether or not the second attempt would or would not work. Certain creatures are more cunning than others. Against certain creatures, you wouldn't have much of a chance to kidney punch them (a drow who expects to be stabbed in the back would be a hard target) while others would likely get tapped three or four times before they caught on (subtlety isn't exactly in an ogre's vocabulary).

 

By making a hard and fast rule, that removes a story telling mechanism from the mechanics. While they could have added a rule that an intelligence check against the target is required to see if the attack succeeds...I prefer to leave those decisions to the DM.

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I can see how the idea of minions can make creating an encounter easier. But, in the context of the game world, how do you have these 2 orcs that are very similar except that one takes many hits to kill while the other dies if hit by a tossed pebble (because, as a minion, he has one HP)? How do you explain that in the context of the game world?

 

Would have been better to have baseline orcs and then some leader type orcs who are tougher.

 

Game mechanics in 4.0 are not a simulation. They are an abstraction. They are not meant to be realistic representations of anything. They are tools that serve a single purpose, to resolve combat that revolves around the player characters, and to help describe what happens.

 

Clearly, a pebble tossed at an orc minion is not going to kill it. It is not a meaningful attack. However, a dagger in the eye will do the job. The difference between an Orc Brute and an Orc Minion is not that the minion is made of ultra thin paper. It's that the minion does not pose as significant a threat for the story. He's a red shirt. The first arrow he takes in the chest will take him down. The brute on the other hand, is a significant antagonist. He doesn't care if there is a sword sticking through his gut, he will still try to pull you forward lunging himself deeper onto the sword trying to bite your head off.

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4th edition is for munchkins and power gamers, not serious role-players.

 

Tsk tsk. Shame on you. Munckins are rather tasty if you get the glazed kind, or even the powder sugared kind.

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4th edition is for munchkins and power gamers, not serious role-players.

 

I find this statement especially ironic given that the 4e skill challenge system is D&D's first stab at something more like the social rulesets of Other Games.

 

Also, what's a "serious role-player"?

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4th edition is for munchkins and power gamers, not serious role-players.

 

 

Actually, it seems to me that 4th edition has decided to leave "role-playing" in the hands of the players and the DM, rather than coming up with in-game mechanics for them.

 

My brother, who works in IT, took a brief look at my PHB and declared that it looked like the source code for a program. (He actually laughed out loud when I then turned to the powers and showed him the "keywords"...) Which sort of seems to be true from what I've seen so far - the mechanics of the game bear no resemblance to the things they represent. Instead, it seems to be left up to the "end user" to decide how things appear in their game. The PHB is nothing but the barest bare-bones crunch, with almost no fluff.

 

Although I can't say that I have a truly informed opinion since I have no current plans to buy either the DMG or MM, it seems that, in trying to get closer to the preferred gaming style of their new MMO target audience, they've actually inadvertantly taken a step back toward earlier versions of the game where there weren't very many rules for anything other than combat situations. (The new Hero/Everybody else/ Bad guys alignment system seems a heck of a lot like the old Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic alignment system from the Basic days...)

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