Wizards' 4e pitch

July 31, 2008 at 9:11 pm
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged ,

The Chatty DM has a post up about Wizards not really pitching 4th Edition particularly well. I’ll be honest: I found this surprising! They convinced me to give it a chance long before I saw any concrete details.

Let me take a moment to explain my roleplaying background, to give you some context.

I played D&D in high school, starting with AD&D 2nd Edition. I missed 3rd Edition to some extent because I was buried in the revised editions of Vampire: the Masquerade and Mage: the Awakening. When I did learn the system, it was through playing Neverwinter Nights and a couple of one-shots. When 3.5 came out, I was excited, and bought it. I ran a few sessions of that. After that, D&D fell by the wayside for me.

I liked some of what 3rd Edition did for D&D, in terms of making fighters more interesting and nixing a bunch of confusing and unnecessarily complicated mechanics. For sure, I wouldn’t go back to 2nd Edition. I had plenty of fun with the video games and the various one-shots. (You can see where this is going, maybe)

Maybe this makes me not a True Fan of D&D. I thought 3rd Edition was fun, but the sort of rules complexity that 4th Edition got rid of is exactly what kept me from running more than a couple of one-shots.

You too, gnomes. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like D&D. On a fundamental level, I like trolls, beholders, goblins, and gelatinous cubes; I like Fireball, Web, and Lightning Bolt; I like dungeons, adventures in the wilderness, fightin’ lotsa guys, and gettin magic items. I like rogues and fighters and clerics and paladins and wizards! (But not bards. Yeah, that’s right, bards: you can eat shit.)

The hitch came down to the moment-to-moment experience of preparing and play. Designing encounters wasn’t fun or interesting. Rules discussions would slow the game to a crawl even with a bunch of reasonably intelligent people. Evan needed to whip up a spreadsheet to handle the constant modifications occurred as a result of modifications to Beth’s barbarian’s ability scores. Spellcasters were by far the most effective classes by any reasonable, long-term estimate.

The list goes on, but if you’re at all familiar with this debate, you’ve heard it before. If 3e is what turns your crank, then we’ll just have to agree to like different shit. I am OK with this. Along those lines, I’m also really not looking for an argument!

Whoa, I could actually play this game.

When I say I was surprised about his reaction to their pitch, I’m being sincere. I thought their pitch was dead on! Everything that they were bashing really did bother me, and I was gratified to hear that they were taking concrete steps to address mechanics that forced me to add the that “I like D&D theory but not in practice” qualifier. Their design philosophy was much more in line with a game I could enjoy, and I awaited it eagerly for many months.

I wasn’t hardcore about the game or anything, but I don’t have any particular emotional investment in the system as a result of putting so much time and, well, the price of the core 3.5e books, Iron Heroes, and Arcana Unearthed|Evolved. (In other words, not much compared to how much I invested in the old World of Darkness versus the new World of Darkness.) (Shit, if I were a smart person, I’d write up a post drawing some parallels between 3e & 4e vs. oWoD & nWoD. Except I’m already procrastinating enough.)

Like I said, I don’t want to get too much into the merits of either game. I just wanted to throw my perspective out there, as an exile before and now a convert.

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