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Thoughts on 4.0 now that the fervor has died down a bit

4e D&D  

129 members have voted

  1. 1. Rate 4th Edition D&D

    • I'll stick with a previous version of D&D
      43
    • I'm going to play a different RPG entirely.
      24
    • My group plays it, but I'm not a fan.
      3
    • I like it. I'm not giving up my old systems, but there's room on my bookcase for this one, too.
      36
    • I'm probably going to get rid of my old stuff, it's really good!
      9
    • Best. Version. Ever.
      14
  2. 2. Have you actually played, or just read about it?

    • I've only read the internet and heard some anecdotal reviews by friends.
      20
    • Read it. Haven't played, though.
      31
    • Played once or twice.
      29
    • Have a campaign with multiple sessions so far.
      49


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I recently read elswhere* that 4e's sales figures aren't as good as WotC expected and/or as good as 3.5e's. Anyone else heard that?

 

Doubt we'll ever get solid confirmation on that, and there's plenty of people that secretly want 4e to flop (including myself...) so it could be a but of propoganda from the anti-4e crowd.

 

Damon.

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I think the hack and slash mentality for many pubilshed adventures is simply because that's an easy kind of adventure to write. They tend to be the most common for any RPG system. Most adventures are not written by the greatest of authors.

 

A good group can take those bare bones and turn it into something worthwhile, or simply make their own from scratch.

 

The few published adventures I've seen that tried to add roleplay elements beyond the very basic tended to be rather cardboard feeling, or written with a slant our group would never use. It was harder to convert them into something we could use, because they tended to be written with a single path the writer thought players should take. Simple combat encounters can be easy to shift, alter, or delete.

 

4th will be as good as any group makes it. Some groups might go for simple adventures while their DM's get used to it, but that can happen with any game. Any group with much experience will move past the teething troubles fairly quickly.

 

As for 4th failing, we'll have to see. Local stores I've talked to say their sales are as strong or stronger than 3rd, but that's a small sampling. I've never looked to the Mongoose forums for accuracy in anything.

 

People being willing to jump on rumors to try and beat 4th down wouldn't surprise me. The same thing happened between 2nd & 3rd, though without as much aid from the internet.

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I like D&D 4e. It is different from 3e, different enough that I do consider it a different game. There are things I could back-adapt into 3e (and probably will if I bother with 3e again), such as the Defenses and the new way the Ability Modifiers impact things.

 

But like with all systems I've ever read, played, or adapted, there are flaws. Just as surely as there are flaws in 3e, there are flaws in 4e.

 

The only flaw I find worth endlessly griping about is that the "Oodles of Books" mentality that annoyed me so with 3e is back in an even nastier form. It's bad enough that I don't buy any of the new 4e books when they come out, because I want to get a chance to talk to my friends who do buy stuff obsessively to see if the new book deserves a place on my bookshelf. So far, only one 4e supplement has passed the grade in that regard, and that's the Adventurer's Vault. That's out of five books so far, so I'm not exactly impressed with WotC's 4e track record so far.

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If it's the "quote" that I heard, it actually doesn't say core 4.0 is selling bad - it says that the supplements are selling 'just as well' as the last supplements for 3.5. Now, some people take that to mean that 4.0 sales are dropping off dramatically, but the last supplements for 3.5 (Magic Item Compendium) were pretty good - and more useful than normal supplements released 8 years into a products life cycle.

 

Plus, the DDI Compendium is cannibalizing the sales of the dead tree supplements. Like I said before - if 4.0 tanks, it's the DDI that's going to do it in...

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On the subject of RP in 4e: I agree, it's what the group makes of it. Most of my current 4e campaign is spent role-playing, not running combat. Even the combats have character moments, such as the paladin's hair getting lit on fire by some firebats. The PC made it a personal vendetta against those firebats, /smiting them when possible because they'd lit her on fire/.

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Plus, the DDI Compendium is cannibalizing the sales of the dead tree supplements. Like I said before - if 4.0 tanks, it's the DDI that's going to do it in...

If DDI subscription revenue winds up making more per month than book sales, it will probably be called a success. Right up until the point they decide to revise the rules in any significant matter, like for a 5th edition.

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Well, more profit, yes. But they've spent so much on it that it actually made it into Hasbro's quarterly statements.

 

While some development costs are shared with Magic Online (since it was the nebulous "online initiatives at WotC"), I'm sure quite a bit of that was the DDI (since, I believe, MTGO was in open beta last year, so most of it's development costs would have been considered in previous statements).

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If the electronic version of the supplements start bringing in positive cash flow, then WotC scales back on Print runs and saves money by not having to print as many books.

 

But I don't see any realistic scenario where the Printed books go the way of the dodo. The Compendium lists all kinds of powers and whatnot, but the meat of the rules isn't there.

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I'm unlikely to play 4th edition for the foreseeable future. I never fiddled with 3rd, either, beyond buying/reading the books and playing in a few con games. I did purchase the 4E PHB, but found it surprisingly incomplete (though what's there is plenty cool). Right about the time I'm thinking of reviving an old Viking skald character that I'd whipped up with the Player's Option rules, along comes a new engine from WotC--and the doggone Bard class is missing. Besides, I prefer non-combat prowess, and the new system offers very little there, so far.

 

C'mon, WotC. Dragonborn? Two different kinds of elves, plus half-elves, for cryin' out loud, but no half-orcs? No barbarians? Wake me when you finish the PHB.

 

My wife and I want to fire up a new game in the coming months, and it looks like it'll be Player's Option or vanilla 2E. 3E seems overly complicated for what you actually get, and 4E ain't done yet. We'll delve instead into the massive amounts of old material we have hanging around the house, and be "left behind" once again.

 

The 4E Warlord seems to rock, however.

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4E warlord is indeed awesome. One of the guys I game with is playing warlords in three different campaigns right now.

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C'mon, WotC. Dragonborn? Two different kinds of elves, plus half-elves, for cryin' out loud, but no half-orcs? No barbarians? Wake me when you finish the PHB.

Pull out your 2nd PHB and take another look. There were five types of elves, plus half-elves, no half-orcs, and no barbarians.

 

Discounting the initially cosmetic differences of the elves, there were six racial options, and eight class options without counting the multi-class options and wizard specialties. Multiclassing added a lot of options in some people's minds, and just different ways of playing the eight to others.

 

3rd cut back the PHB racial options to a single elven option, but total different racial options increased to seven with the addition of half-orcs.

 

Class options went to eleven with the addition of the barbarian, monk, and sorcerer, but while all characters gained the ability to multiclass as they gained levels, the ability to run as a traditional multiclass, advancing all of them together, disappeared.

 

4th is starting with differences, but only cut back or unfinished compared to all the options that came later in the earlier editions.

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OK, I chose the "I like it but I'm not giving up my other systems" option but I have a clarification.

 

I DM my group's 4E game, and we've played 7 or 8 sessions to date. This group didn't exist before 4E. We formed at the FLGS in order to learn the new system.

 

My previous group (now defunct) played 2E well into the 3.5 era, but we tried both 3.0 and 3.5 with mixed results.

 

I didn't enjoy 3.X primarily due to the players and the playstyles that I ran into. It seemed that everybody wanted to play a "1/2 dragon/ninja/chainfighter/cheeselord", and if I wanted to run a "standard" fighter or rogue then the game wasn't very fun for me because I wasn't optimized enough to deal with situations geared to challenge the Lord of Cheesevania. I realize that this was more a factor of different players wanting different things from the game, but I hadn't really run into that in previous incarnations of the game. 3.X was great for giving options, but if the group wasn't on the same page, then the options could "break" the game.

 

My group's experience was that 3.X played more like Magic the Gathering, because combos and synergies seemed to be so important. I had always liked running a sword and shield fighter type, but I quickly learned that this type of character "build" was "suboptimal". I really want to like 3.5, but I live in a gamer poor environment and I don't know of anyone here who still plays it.

 

As for 4.0, I DM it but I'm not really loving it. The new group consists of 1 human cleric, 1 dragonborn cleric, 1 dragonborn paladin, 1 tiefling warlock, and 1 tiefling wizard. Most combats tend to follow the same attack routines, and the "self-heal" powers have reduced the players' cautiousness in combat. They know they have staying power, and with the paladin and clerics able to sling healing around easily they can usually just grind down their opponents.

 

I know there are things I can do to adjust the combats, such as give the PCs goals besides "kill 'em all!". I'm just not enthused enough about the game to work that hard just to make it more enjoyable for me. The players seem to be enjoying the game, so that's definitely a positive.

 

I started using the Character Builder Beta to make some characters for the unlikely possibility that I can get someone else to DM. I tried to make an Elf Ranger, and the options left me a bit cold. I'm not judging versus previous editions on this, I'm just saying that I felt that I really didn't have much choice of powers compared to the other classes after I had picked either "two weapon" or "archery" style. I did feel that the "standard" fighter is more viable in 4E than in 3.X though.

 

I'll keep DMing 4E unless there is some group consensus on playing a different game, but I don't see them investing in another system for awhile due to financial issues. I'd love to try True 20, or Savage Worlds, or HERO sytem or something. I feel that if I could find a simple, low cost, generic/modular ruleset, then we could change up genres more easily and avoid the rut.

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C'mon, WotC. Dragonborn? Two different kinds of elves, plus half-elves, for cryin' out loud, but no half-orcs? No barbarians? Wake me when you finish the PHB.

Pull out your 2nd PHB and take another look. There were five types of elves, plus half-elves, no half-orcs, and no barbarians...4th is starting with differences, but only cut back or unfinished compared to all the options that came later in the earlier editions.

That's precisely my point. 4E being so far from finished, there's no reason for me to switch now and wait who-knows-how-long for the options that I need.

 

New editions don't have to include big steps backward. That's just the way game companies tend to build them: from scratch, a bit at a time. Even GURPS' fourth edition character book couldn't really be complete in one volume...but I could have used it to build my skald on the day of its release. That's a system. D&D 4E is a promise as yet unfulfilled.

 

But that's only my opinion, based on the sort of gaming I think I'm likely to do.

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C'mon, WotC. Dragonborn? Two different kinds of elves, plus half-elves, for cryin' out loud, but no half-orcs? No barbarians? Wake me when you finish the PHB.

Pull out your 2nd PHB and take another look. There were five types of elves, plus half-elves, no half-orcs, and no barbarians...4th is starting with differences, but only cut back or unfinished compared to all the options that came later in the earlier editions.

That's precisely my point. 4E being so far from finished, there's no reason for me to switch now and wait who-knows-how-long for the options that I need.

 

New editions don't have to include big steps backward. That's just the way game companies tend to build them: from scratch, a bit at a time. Even GURPS' fourth edition character book couldn't really be complete in one volume...but I could have used it to build my skald on the day of its release. That's a system. D&D 4E is a promise as yet unfulfilled.

 

But that's only my opinion, based on the sort of gaming I think I'm likely to do.

It's the curse of gaming companies being businesses.

 

Steve Jackson goes for quality without as much fluff, and works to be stable, if not as big a company. It's a good long term strategy. GURPS doesn't control the market, but it's survived and prospered for a long time due to consistency and quality. They've also been quite good at having multiple lines of products added through the years to give them more diversity.

 

DnD under all its owners grew into a flash game full of color and glitz to help it grow and sell. That can also work long term, but makes each product more expensive, so profits have to come differently. It also encourages the major change mentality for each edition, and makes each edition more of a risk if they don't catch player's attention. There's greater profit potential, and more pretties for the players that want them, but less content per dollar the player spends to offset the increased cost.

 

Of the two, I prefer SJ Games' option, but I can respect the right of a company to use other approaches. Every business will run differently. If they put out a quality product, and I find it worth my money, I'm happy to buy $60 rulebooks. If they later put out a new edition, or even simply supplements, any changes have to be good enough for me to want to buy the new stuff, or I can be quite happy playing with what I have.

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I didn't enjoy 3.X primarily due to the players and the playstyles that I ran into. It seemed that everybody wanted to play a "1/2 dragon/ninja/chainfighter/cheeselord", and if I wanted to run a "standard" fighter or rogue then the game wasn't very fun for me because I wasn't optimized enough to deal with situations geared to challenge the Lord of Cheesevania. I realize that this was more a factor of different players wanting different things from the game, but I hadn't really run into that in previous incarnations of the game. 3.X was great for giving options, but if the group wasn't on the same page, then the options could "break" the game.

 

My group's experience was that 3.X played more like Magic the Gathering, because combos and synergies seemed to be so important. I had always liked running a sword and shield fighter type, but I quickly learned that this type of character "build" was "suboptimal". I really want to like 3.5, but I live in a gamer poor environment and I don't know of anyone here who still plays it.

 

 

I've been running a 3/3.5 version of Greyhawk and I realised early on that some of the players were going to try an multi-class so that they could have access to all the magic styles - Arcane, Cleric Divine and Druid Divine. So I impossed some rules to prevent 'unballanced multi-classing'. Some of them were a p***ed of to start with , but they saw the logic to my argument (now can a specialist class like a Paladin multi-class anyway?) and decided that Roleplaying was actually more fun than Min/maxing and putting standard classes to a disadvantage. I did tell them from the begining that they could only play standard races and standard classes - I don't like dragonblood tiefling Celestials as PC's, players need to get real. Anyhow, the multi-classing rules are an option - not a given.

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