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The D&D Designers Answer Your Questions 211

Posted by Zonk
from the all-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder dept.
In January we had the chance to ask the designers of Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition a few questions about the new version of the classic tabletop game. The Wizards of the Coast Community Manager, Mike "Gamer_Zer0" Lescault put our questions to members of the development team, including: Andrew Collins, Chris Perkins, Scott Rouse, and Sara Girard. Some of the questions weren't quite answered in as much detail as I would have liked. That said, they've given us a great opportunity to follow up on their responses. If you have a follow-up question, put it in a comment below (one question per comment please). We'll pass on five of the best, and the designers will answer your question on-camera at the Dungeons and Dragons Experience at the end of this month. We'll post the video to the site early in March. This is a great chance to put a face to some legendary designer names, and get your unanswered issues resolved. Get asking.
Why 4th Edition? by DrMrLordX:
3.5E had so many non-core sourcebooks that you could have easily respun and/or rebalanced the material into a new set of books if you had any need to sell more material (which you presumably do, as would anyone else in the same business). Based on what has been released and what I've read, 4E will be a radical departure of standards set back in 3E which were, in turn, meant to improve the game drastically. Don't you think more work could have, and should have, been done to improve 3.5E? It seems like you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Wizards of the Coast:
The design team had play-tested Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 extensively and it was clear that the game needed to evolve. Since there were things we wanted to do digitally, like the Digital Game Table and the Character builder, it became clear that we should create a new, fully integrated system, with rules that would support our online applications. There were so many system improvements that the team really felt that the time had come to revamp the game. I don't imagine that our customers would have been satisfied with a version 3.75.

How long will this edition last? by Erwos:
It upset quite a few folks when D&D 3.0E transitioned to 3.5E relatively soon after release, and made some people's investments in D&D become basically worthless overnight. While I appreciate that it's sometimes time to spawn a new edition that's incompatible with the old, it felt like 3.5E should have been an errata to 3.0E, rather than a totally new set of books. I understand that WotC can't commit itself to any firm "we will not release another edition for X years" guarantee, but it would be nice to hear some sort of assurance that we won't see a repeat of the 3.0E->3.5E debacle. What's the plan? What lessons have you learned?

WotC:
I don't think it would be unreasonable to argue that the transition from 3.0 to 3.5 happened a little too soon. Would Wizards of the Coast have released 3.5 if we knew at the time that 4th Edition was coming? My guess is probably not. We would like to have 4th Edition last 8 to 10 years just like previous editions.

Player's Online Component? by Zonk
I know this component is still 'in the works', but I have to ask: what are you planning for the online pricing for players vs. DMs? You've said that accessing D&D Insider and the 'online tabletop' will cost between $10 and $15, but is that for everyone? I just can't see telling my players they *each* need to pay $12/month to play online, let alone shelling out $30/month for myself and my wife. Also, will I need to have a paid subscription in order to access PDFs of the 4th edition books that I buy?

WotC:
We will be announcing pricing and subscription details at the D&D Experience convention in two weeks.

Open Gaming License by egg_green:
With D&D 3rd Edition, we were introduced to the D20 System and the Open Gaming License, which allowed third party publishers to produce supplements for the game. Will there be something akin to this for 4th Edition? What form will it take, and will it be more or less restrictive?

WotC:
The initial 4th Edition plans for allowing third-party publication of compatible supplements have been announced, and we're currently working with a number of independent publishers to iron out the details and get them started. Our goal is to allow 3rd party publishers, both large and small, the opportunity to publish products compatible with Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.

Will combat be more streamlined? by DeafDumbBlind:
At higher levels in D&D 3.5, a fight between the party and a group of enemies can easily last a couple of hours. How has combat been streamlined?

WotC:
Two significant changes to gameplay that accelerate and streamline high-level combat are the reduction in the number of dice rolls required on each turn, and the drastic simplification of monsters. No more "full attack actions" requiring handfuls of d20s. No more monster powers hiding in feats, or that require you to look somewhere else to understand what they do--monster powers are self-contained, specialized abilities appropriate to that monster's role, its tactics in a battle, and its identity in the world.

Magic Item Requirement by Blackeagle_Falcon:
One of the things I dislike about 3rd edition is that at medium and high levels magic items are such a big part of a character's power. A PC has to be decorated like a Christmas tree with various magical doodads in order to be effective. Running a campaign in a world where magic items are rare or nonexistant required a lot of house rules and adjustment on the part of the DM. Will it be easier to run a low or no magic item campaign in 4e?

WotC:
We're definitely reducing the number of magic items that a typical character will carry around. Magic items aren't going away--they're a great way for characters to specialize their tactics, shore up weaknesses, and otherwise differentiate themselves from other characters--but they'll be a smaller overall portion of a character's array of special abilities. In addition, we're being clearer to the players and DM what mechanical benefits we expect all characters to derive from their array of items, which makes it easier for a DM running a "low-magic" campaign to know what his characters are missing (so that he can either take that into account by reducing monster stats, or provide the missing benefits via other methods).

D&D and WOW by halivar:
It appears (to me, at least), that many of the new rules-changes mirror popular MMO's like WOW. How much influence do the designers derive from video games; and, to the extent that D&D 4th resembles WOW, is this a conscious effort to reach the MMO-generation of gamers with table-top role-play?

WotC:
Just as the design teams of most computer games draw on their experiences with Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop games, we look to other games for inspiration and innovation. Many of us in RPG R&D play or have played MMOs and other computer games. Some of the lessons we learned about gameplay on those platforms have helped us craft a better tabletop RPG, both for current D&D players and for potential new players who either haven't yet tried D&D or haven't found previous iterations of the game to their liking.

The balance between easy and good by Mongoose Disciple:
How do you feel you've struck a balance between a desire to simplify/streamline rules to speed play and make the game more accessible, and a desire to preserve the strategy and general goodness of the game as it exists today? Details about proposed changes that were a tough call either way would be interesting.

WotC:
The struggle between playability and tactical depth is a constant one for any game designer, and D&D is no different. We're always wrestling with the right balance between providing streamlined, intuitive play and giving players all the options they want. For example, by giving more characters customizable options for their actions in combat, we've added a dramatic level of depth (both strategic, in building your character, and tactical, in employing those options during a fight), but at the cost of increasing complexity for some characters. We think that's a net positive effect, because the lack of tactical and strategic options for fighters, rogues, and many other characters had become a glaring weakness in the game. The key is to ensure that players of different sensibilities can still find a rewarding play experience within the game's framework. A player who prefers simple options can select those and still feel like he's creating an effective character, while his buddy who thrives on complexity can load up on interesting combos without grinding the game to a halt.

New content for old Settings? by andphi:
I know that some of the old settings (Ravenloft, Spelljammers, Dark Sun, Planescape) have been transitioned to other companies or have been quietly kept alive by their fans with knowledge bases and efforts at rules translations between old rulesets and 3.5. Will any of these old, orphaned settings being making a comeback in 4.0? (Planescape. Please, Planescape!) If not, are the 4.0 rules being written to make these on-going translation efforts easier?

WotC:
We appreciate the devoted fans who have continued to run campaigns in our older campaign settings. For a variety of reasons, we can't give every setting an equal amount of support, but we certainly expect to revisit older settings from time to time on D&D Insider. We constantly re-evaluate the role of older settings in our business plans and product schedules, and it's entirely possible that some of those settings may well stage a full-fledged return at some point in the future. For now, though, we're focusing on relaunching the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in August of 2008, with the Eberron campaign setting following in 2009. When we firm up any other plans, we'll certainly share those.

Negative Press by eldavojohn:
Short intro, I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. Play a lot of computer games. Enjoy reading up on lore and the like. But I never got into D&D. I had friends that played it but I was never into it. I tried playing it a few times and had some fun experiences. But there's always been a sort of negative stigma associated with it among ... well, the general populace. What are you doing to break free of this? Or do you embrace it? What are your thoughts & opinions on this strange negative publicity that popular movies push onto D&D players? Do you ever try to break free of that?

WotC:
(Note from Gamer_Zer0: Sorry Zonk, I tried my best to get this question answered for you, but apparently the Sci-Fi channel was having an original Battlestar Galactica marathon and the entire D&D team was no where to be found!)

Complexity vs. other gaming systems by Mechagodzilla:
Has there been any thoughts or discussions on reducing the amount of books needed to play? Donating a bookshelf to every new edition is getting a little ridiculous for the casual gamer. I have 40+ books from first and second edition. I bought the Player's Handbook from the third edition, read the first thirty pages and went "bleh". I know it goes against the business model, but can you actually make a game that can be played with less than four books?

WotC:
The only book any player needs to play the game is the Player's Handbook. In addition, the DM will want a copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual (to help him craft encounters, build adventures, and run an entertaining game). Players won't need the Dungeon Master's Guide to equip their higher-level characters, because the PH will have plenty of magic items for all levels. Players won't need the Monster Manual to adjudicate shapechanging or summoning effects, because those effects will be self-contained within the classes or powers that grant them. That said, a large number of D&D players want more options than the core rulebooks provide--so we publish additional supplements and sourcebooks to meet that desire--but the game's fully functional without them. Of course, with the new online tools provided by D&D Insider (including a full rules database), it'll be easier than ever to carry around even your whole collection of D&D books wherever you play--just log on and there they are!

DRM? by MykeBNY:
Many people are acting as if a new edition will not only obsolete their old books, it will actually prevent them from accessing the ruleset at all. Level-headed people of course regard that as silly, nobody's going to sneak into your house and burn your old books! However, with more and more importance being placed on digital content (not specifically Wizards of the Coast, but in general) ... Is the issue of whether to DRM or not, and why and how being treated very seriously within the company?

WotC:
There is still a fair amount of non-rules content in the 3.x books that is still usable with 4th Edition. The rules themselves are changing and the old rules content will be obsolete. We plan to sell digital versions of our books for use online. Our DRM philosophy is to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Character sheets like by coppro:
We know that you are providing a tool for editing character sheets on your computer, although you have not specified anything else. An editable PDF sheet seems likely. However, there have been many popular tools (e.g. PCGen) that can update many aspects of data automatically based on game events, rather than numbers. Will the suite of digital tools released with 4th Edition include a tool that can maintain a character sheet that can be updated based on effects and modifications, rather than simple numeric input? If so, will it be extensible with published supplements/user-provided data?

WotC:
Our character builder application let's you build characters of any 4E class and level. It will also let you populate the sheets with content from the D&D database, and to update your characters as they grow.

Arcane/Divine Balance? by Rydia:
In 3.5 and even basic 3d ed, Priests were far and away more useful than wizards and sorcers. They had damage spells, could use better weapons out of the box and had a serious of buffs, combined with their armor, that made them powerful and extremely difficult to kill. At very high levels, a powerful wizard can deal great damage with delayed blast fireball and whatnot, but at that point a good cleric can throw down greater aspect of the diety, divine power and a load of other spells and turn themselves into a combat machine, plus the ability to heal and a few good damage spells. How are you going to balance the two main spellcasting types in 4th ed? Or are you going to leave things generally as they are?

WotC:
One of the most significant design goals of 4th Edition was to clarify the roles filled by each of the character classes in the game. Not only does this help prevent one class from being good at too many things--such as the cleric--but it also prevents classes from being unable to accomplish any role effectively (such as the bard or monk). For example, clerics in 4th Edition occupy the "leader" role (sometimes also known as the "healer" or "party buffer" role). Their damage output is decent, but far behind that of the wizard or rogue, and they don't have the defenses or melee-control abilities of the fighter.

Who are you trying to please? by HikingStick:
I started playing D&D (the basic boxed set) and AD&D ages ago--first on 1st Ed. rules and eventually ponying up for 2nd Ed. My friends and I liked the game because it was easy and simple (regarding game mechanics) in the first edition, and we did enjoy some of the changes going into 2nd E. With the arrival of the 3rd Ed. rules, you lost me as a regular player, along with many of my peers. I had no desire to relearn a gaming system that, for the most part, had its rules embedded in my head. My question is this: who are you trying to please? Are you attracting any younger gamers to the fold? If not, what's the point in publishing release after release after release? The question I'm asking beneath the surface is, "Why should I care at all?"

WotC:
The "beneath the surface" answer is, "Because this edition is the most exciting and playable version of D&D that has ever been published." In order for Dungeons & Dragons to continue to thrive, it needs to retain current players while also attracting new players to the fold. Third Edition D&D succeeded wildly on both counts, and also brought thousands of lapsed D&D players back into the game (in some cases after years away from the tabletop). We have every expectation that Fourth Edition will repeat that success.

The fact that the Player's Handbook continues to be a strong-selling book years after its publication tells us that new players still enter the game every month. We also know from our RPGA programs that the game environment is full of diehard veterans from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, as well as new players trying out their first characters. But in order for us to continue to please existing players (whose preferences in gaming continue to evolve) and also attract new players (whose needs may be quite different from veteran gamers), the game must keep pace with an enormously volatile and variable marketplace.

D&D has always been a tabletop-based game, and Fourth Edition won't change that. However, we recognize that people think about games, information storage, and even social gatherings differently now than they did in 1974, and we want the new D&D to recognize and embrace those differences rather than risk becoming obsolete. So now you'll be able to access your rulebooks online via the Rules Database, craft the perfect look for your PC with the Character Visualizer, and even game with players across town or across the globe on the Digital Game Table.

At the end of the day however, we really just want to please the fantasy gamer inside all of us and feed that insatiable desire to keep the adventure fresh and exciting!
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The D&D Designers Answer Your Questions

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  • by ajs (35943) <<moc.sja> <ta> <sja>> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:31AM (#22475172) Homepage Journal
    WotC likes to tout the 8 to 10 years number for the longevity of a release of D&D. They do some interesting accounting to get there.

    What they do is ignore the period of time that Wizards of the Coast has owned the D&D brand. *TSR* was certainly capable of producing a radical revision to the rules only every 8 to 10 years. Thus far, Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro) has NEVER managed to meet that standard.

    GURPS, BTW, has published their most recent edition. They *do* keep to such long periods between publications, and there's a rather large amount of compatibility between their 3rd and 4th (most recent) editions, allowing those who invested in 3rd edition's many supplements to maintain the value of their investments....
  • Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paranatural (661514) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:35AM (#22475226)
    I'm looking forward to 4th Ed, but damn that was sanitized. Straight from a marketer's mouth. I'd actually hoped for something more frank.
  • Re:Ahhh D&D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs (35943) <<moc.sja> <ta> <sja>> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:37AM (#22475254) Homepage Journal

    The reason geeks haven't been able to get girls
    No, lack of social skills would be the reason, there. D&D is actually the only reason geeks tend to have *any* social skills (no, learning to type "pwnd!" with one hand while strafing is not a social skill).

  • by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:59AM (#22475488) Journal
    as much as we WANT hard answers like "yes, you can convert you epic duskblade/bard character to 4.0" and "No, we are not going to screw all your players with the online section" we are more likely to get marketing answers. They want... NEED to sell more editions/books/modules and there are only so many new monsters and classes you can throw into the mix while keeping the game fun/balanced.

    Then again, that's up to the DM to say "No, we only use THESE books. You're only allowed 4 magic items at a time from the MIC and no draconian ones... etc" not the publisher...
  • by Deathdonut (604275) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:13PM (#22475648)
    I am extremely concerned regarding the response to the question on Character Builder customizations. One of the most compelling reasons to play a Pen and Paper game over another media is largely one of customizations and options. I have played D&D in every edition since I first colored in my dice with a white crayon in 1981 and I cannot recall a single campaign that stuck to "content from the D&D database". The canned response to Coppro's question either failed to answer his question or implied a complete lack of interest in meeting the customized needs of the playerbase. Either is disheartening.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:14PM (#22475668)
    Bah, who needs relatiohships?

    Unless you are inclined to breed, in the modern world, you are better off single.

    How do you self-actualize? Do you like investing time in the cultivation of that powerful geek brain of yours? What about the cultivation of physical skills? Such things bring great fulfillment, make you a better person, and require time.

    If you spend that time prioritizing someone else's desires over your own, just so you can get laid now and then, are you not cheating yourself?

    What is so wonderful about a relationship that it is worth allowing your higher potentials go unexpressed?

    Granted, it *is* possible to have a relationship with someone who will actually augment your efforts, which would be ideal. In my experience, not many relationships are like that. Most relationships, it seems, are a matter of doing what you have to do to manipulate the other person into fulfilling your desires. Like any addiction, it brings some joy (and not much else) and comes at great cost.

    Let it go. In the modern world, solitude is a luxury that we can not only afford, but is actually cheaper than the alternative. Don't let outdated value systems rob you of your free will. Disobey!

    (I am not a misogynist. All of this applies equally well to either gender.)

    "One must tether the heart to free the spirit." -- Nietzsche.

    "The demand to be loved is the most arrogant of presumptions." -- Nietzsche.

    "Suffering is caused by desire" -- The Buddha

    "Everything is meaningless" -- King Solomon

    "Girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money." -- Good Charlotte

  • by bugnuts (94678) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:21PM (#22475746) Journal

    What they do is ignore the period of time that Wizards of the Coast has owned the D&D brand. *TSR* was certainly capable of producing a radical revision to the rules only every 8 to 10 years. Thus far, Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro) has NEVER managed to meet that standard.

    If it wasn't for WotC, it would be infinity years before TSR's next release.

    I'm not sure why you're concentrating on the time between releases. 3.5 has been out a few years, and nobody is forcing anyone to change. There's a plethora of material out for 3.5, so if you don't want to change your rules... don't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:28PM (#22475840)
    The only book any player needs to play the game is the Player's Handbook. In addition, the DM will want a copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual (to help him craft encounters, build adventures, and run an entertaining game). Players won't need the Dungeon Master's Guide to equip their higher-level characters, because the PH will have plenty of magic items for all levels. Players won't need the Monster Manual to adjudicate shapechanging or summoning effects, because those effects will be self-contained within the classes or powers that grant them.
    Okay... so the Monster Manual will be unnecessary for all shapechanging and summoning powers...

    This is either a damn lie, or they're making powers far more limited and less interesting.

    My favorite part is where they don't want you to own books any more. They just want you to pay $15/month forever for the privilege of accessing them from your $1000 laptop with the small, low-res, low-contrast screen, and having it on the kitchen table where a bunch of dorks are eating messy snacks, spilling drinks, and flailing their arms spasmatically.
  • The hot gamer girl (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoodyLoner (76734) <moodyloner.ca@gmail . c om> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:33PM (#22475916) Homepage Journal
    in our group and I have been married for fifteen years.

    We have a six year old daughter that plays a halfling rogue.

    I find the inevitable "D&D players never get laid" responses to RPG stories bitterly amusing, but getting old.
  • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:37PM (#22475972)
    "Then again, that's up to the DM to say "No, we only use THESE books. You're only allowed 4 magic items at a time from the MIC and no draconian ones... etc" not the publisher..."

    People don't seem to get that. Just because a book is out there, does not mean you have to allow it in your game. And it's a good hint to the DM that if a player wont play because he cannot play broken combo X, that you don't want him in your group anyways.
  • by camazotz (1242344) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:09PM (#22476488) Homepage
    Not only would a D&D gamer have trouble getting in to a RPGA style torunament, but they'll have to accept that while they are playing 3.5 or what-not, their buddies may all be buying in to 4E, and thus he'll need to upgrade if he wants to keep playing with his friends. Unless he gets friends who are all sympatico with their choice of edition, this is another roadblock to staying retro. Finally, people seem to think it's all about playing whatever edition you like....people sometimes forget this is a consumer-oriented market, and the simple fact is, many people like buying the books; no more 3.5 books means no more outlet for that consumer habit, unless the gamer/purchaser decides to buy in to the new books, which, of course, is what WotC is most hopeful for.
  • by lilomar (1072448) <lilomar2525@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:11PM (#22476508) Homepage

    Most relationships, it seems, are a matter of doing what you have to do to manipulate the other person into fulfilling your desires.
    You're doing it wrong.
  • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:22PM (#22476688)
    Well, I have been following the 4th edition information in the WotC website and ENWorld, and the new information provided here is:

    * Magic Items will be moved to the Players Handbook
    * A Rogue will be able to consistently deal more damage than a Cleric
    * a reference to "melee control" abilities by the Fighter

    Plus, this is the first time WotC has admitted that 3.5 came too soon. That is not worthless to me. Also, the way they ignored the trollish "what are you doing to make this game less nerdish?" question made me laugh.
  • by bughunter (10093) <<ten.knilhtrae> <ta> <retnuhgub>> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:30PM (#22476800) Journal
    When asked "I'm a 1E grognard who you couldn't sell on 3E - why should I buy this edition," the reply was:

    The "beneath the surface" answer is, "Because this edition is the most exciting and playable version of D&D that has ever been published." In order for Dungeons & Dragons to continue to thrive, it needs to retain current players while also attracting new players to the fold. Third Edition D&D succeeded wildly on both counts, and also brought thousands of lapsed D&D players back into the game (in some cases after years away from the tabletop). We have every expectation that Fourth Edition will repeat that success.

    Translation: You're not even on our radar. In fact, we didn't even comprehend your question. Honestly, the only people who are pleased with this edition are us marketing droids.

    And the last sentance should tell us that this edition is yet another turd in a can [slashdot.org].

    Frankly, I'd rather play Rolemaster [wikipedia.org].

  • by Forseti (192792) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:39PM (#22476958)
    3.5E Wasn't a mistake, 3E was. They released it too early, it needed more playtesting.

    When 3.5E came out, my play group was pissed off and decided not to buy it. Then a friend took a look at the new rules and uttered the words that rattle me to this day: "The new rules are WAY better; more balanced, etc..." We switched and rebought all of the damn books. I learned my lesson though. We'll skip 4E until we're sure they won't come out with 4.5E to tweak it.
  • by podperson (592944) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:44PM (#22477044) Homepage
    GURPS achieves outstanding backwards compatibility by never fixing major bugs. E.g. impaling weapons are supposed to do less damage but be better at penetrating armor, but the rules have the exact opposite effect, and this has been the case from GURPS 1 to GURPS 4, despite numerous complaints and the fact that this could be fixed without breaking anything else.
  • There's (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoodyLoner (76734) <moodyloner.ca@gmail . c om> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:05PM (#22477378) Homepage Journal
    a lot less difference between "some" and "more" than "some" and "none".

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:35PM (#22477850)
    My original question as seen above:
    How do you feel you've struck a balance between a desire to simplify/streamline rules to speed play and make the game more accessible, and a desire to preserve the strategy and general goodness of the game as it exists today? Details about proposed changes that were a tough call either way would be interesting.

    WotC's response:
    The struggle between playability and tactical depth is a constant one for any game designer, and D&D is no different. We're always wrestling with the right balance between providing streamlined, intuitive play and giving players all the options they want. For example, by giving more characters customizable options for their actions in combat, we've added a dramatic level of depth (both strategic, in building your character, and tactical, in employing those options during a fight), but at the cost of increasing complexity for some characters. We think that's a net positive effect, because the lack of tactical and strategic options for fighters, rogues, and many other characters had become a glaring weakness in the game. The key is to ensure that players of different sensibilities can still find a rewarding play experience within the game's framework. A player who prefers simple options can select those and still feel like he's creating an effective character, while his buddy who thrives on complexity can load up on interesting combos without grinding the game to a halt.

    Follow-up Question:

    Is there any concern that you've eliminated the most tactically interesting/complex characters from the game?

    Further explanation/clarification:

    As 3.5E D&D stands, I agree that the lack of tactical options for many kinds of characters is a weakness in the game. I'm glad to know that it will be possible to play a tactically interesting fighter without having to comb 10 books for esoteric feats and prestige classes to somehow combine together into a mutt build that ends up tactically interesting.

    However, my fear and what my original question was alluding to, is that instead of 'helping the poor', so to speak, you've opted for 'gaming communism'.

    I'll try to better clarify that by explaining it in 3.5E terms. Take these three classes for example:

    Fighter:
    - Moderate strategy at the character-build level.
    - No strategy at the day level.
    - Few tactical options at the combat level. That is, your fighter with feats picked for mounted combat CAN fire a longbow, but he's not very good at it. His best options in all fights come from a very short list.

    Sorcerer:
    - Moderate strategy at the character-build level. (Less feats to pick vs. fighter, but now you're picking spells, so...)
    - No strategy at the day level.
    - Moderate to many tactical options at the combat level. As you reach the mid-levels, you've got a long list of spells and maybe some metamagic feats to apply on the fly.

    Druid:
    - Moderate strategy at the character-build level. (You pick more skills than sorcerer/fighter, but few feats and a few are so good as to be default choices for many of the picks. Probably your single biggest 'build' choice is your animal companion, how you advance it, etc.)
    - High strategy at the day level. You can fill a variety of roles depending on which spells you prepare. How well you anticipate which spells you need will have a huge impact on the usefulness of your character.
    - High strategy at the day level. Lots of spells to choose from, an animal companion to manage, wild shape, etc.

    Essentially, I'm concerned that instead of making fighter more of a complexity like sorcerer, you've instead chosen to make everyone like sorcerer and that there's no niche in the game for, say, the so-called 'Batman' style wizard; at best, a poor Batman sorcerer style controller seems possible. (See: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18500 [giantitp.com] if you're not familiar.)
  • by EvilNight (11001) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @03:06PM (#22478290)
    Seriously. "clerics in 4th Edition occupy the "leader" role (sometimes also known as the "healer" or "party buffer" role). Their damage output is decent, but far behind that of the wizard or rogue, and they don't have the defenses or melee-control abilities of the fighter."

    I swear I had flashbacks to SOE message boards filled with whining Monks. Folks, is this really the hill you want to die on?

    There are a great many (hundreds) of role playing games out there. There are many times more tabletop games than that.

    My advice to you is that you set down the WotC torch and pick up another game for a while. The worst that can happen is that you'll come back to D&D with a better understanding of why you like it. The best that could happen? You may realize you're paying for an over-designed, over-priced, over-hyped, over-played soulless shell of a role playing game - one that really doesn't do anything badly, but doesn't do anything well, either.

    Repeat after me: The system is part of the setting. The system is part of the charm. The system is the soul of the game. Learning new systems is fun. After learning D&D, learning new systems is a friggin' cakewalk.

    Try something different. On a budget? Check out CheapAss Games. Want more role playing and less dice rolling, maybe some more flavor in a gaming system? Try out Continuum (time travel/any), Deadlands (western), Earthdawn (swords/sorcery), Unknown Armies (occult/underworld), Paranoia (psychotic and fun), Big Eyes Small Mouth (anime), Ironpaw (yes, furry has an RPG). Want miniatures and grand tabletop battles and strategy? Try Warhammer. That's just a short list of the ones I've enjoyed off the top of my head. Wikipedia has a list, RPGNet has reviews, you know what to do.

    Heck, try something like Universalis if you want real innovation - they are designing the GM/DM right out. It didn't quite succeed, but the idea has a hell of a lot of merit. Enough that I think it'll shape the future of interactive storytelling in role playing games. I'll admit, I've been out of the loop for some time. There's plenty more out there I've never heard of.

    If you bought 40 D&D 3.5 books, you could have spent that money instead on 50 different RPGs. WotC tends to be expensive. There's more to RPGs than D&D. If you've only ever played D&D then I suggest you really don't know what you are missing, and you should take a few others for a spin - and don't overlook card games, board games, and trivia games either. Those genres aren't standing still. They can make for a great two or three session break in between various campaigns - or a good gaming night for most of your group if too few people show up to play your current campaign.
  • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @03:31PM (#22478676)
    ... the conclusion is that they droned on for 3 pages and basically said nothing good about the product. Drastic oversimiplification of monsters? See the Pit Fiend they put forth, which basically is a WoW ripoff. See how most of the monsters have a set of feats that basically boil down to "do this, then this, then this, lather, rinse, repeat" with no tactical points.

    D&D 4e = a transparent attempt to make people pay $15/month to play a tabletop game. That's why they killed the print mags and gave Paizo the big "FUCK YOU", that's why they stuck it all behind the $15/month wall, and that's why all the new books will have only half the content, the other half being "unlockable online with your DDI subscription."
  • by ajs (35943) <<moc.sja> <ta> <sja>> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @04:04PM (#22479204) Homepage Journal

    there's a rather large amount of compatibility between [GURPS] 3rd and 4th (most recent) editions, allowing those who invested in 3rd edition's many supplements to maintain the value of their investments.
    While I do realize that material things (books, computer, cars) have value, the term "investment" as applied to D&D is a joke.
    Not at all. You're focusing on the value of an investment only in terms of its retail re-sale value, not its overall ROI. The only useful metric for measuring all investments is ROI (Return On Investment), and that metric includes all forms of return. The "value" returned by gaming books is play-time. That value is radically degraded if they cannot be used with the current edition (not to zero, of course, but reduced non-the-less).

  • by ajs (35943) <<moc.sja> <ta> <sja>> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @04:47PM (#22479866) Homepage Journal

    Unless you are inclined to breed, in the modern world, you are better off single.
    Sounds like the words of someone who has never been in a quality relationship. It's OK, those of us who HAVE or ARE used to feel the same way.

    How do you self-actualize? Do you like investing time in the cultivation of that powerful geek brain of yours? What about the cultivation of physical skills? Such things bring great fulfillment, make you a better person, and require time.

    If you spend that time prioritizing someone else's desires over your own, just so you can get laid now and then, are you not cheating yourself?
    Why choose? If you've simply found no one that shares your interests, then that's too bad, but if you do, you don't need to compromise (though surely you will in some areas, and in many of those, compromise is probably a good thing).

    My spouse games with me (board, video, tabletop), hikes with me, cooks with me, watches TV and movies with me... we're not the same, but we share enough that we can both do things that we enjoy and which enrich us.

    In my experience, not many relationships are like that. Most relationships, it seems, are a matter of doing what you have to do to manipulate the other person into fulfilling your desires.
    If your relationship goals are about sex, then you should find a mate whose primary interest in a relationship is sex. That will work out for a while, though you may find that you've self-limited. If your relationship goals are about sharing your entire life with someone, then the quality time that you spend doing the things that you both enjoy doesn't constitute manipulation.

  • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:05PM (#22480120)
    See the Pit Fiend they put forth, which basically is a WoW ripoff. See how most of the monsters have a set of feats that basically boil down to "do this, then this, then this, lather, rinse, repeat" with no tactical points.

    I've never played WoW. I don't have the free time to commit to an MMO, and I never will. In you mind, what exactly about this is like WoW, and why is it bad that it is like it?

    From my perspective, a high-level D&D combat doesn't usually last more than 4 rounds in 3e, so exactly what is the use of giving a Pit Fiend a hideously long list of abilities that will have you chasing across the PHB's spell list to understand when only a few of them are going to actually be used? I personally like the approach to reducing clutter in the new edition.

    Also, keep in mind that 4e fights are intended to involve more monsters in a single fight than 3e. This means that tactics will largely rely on the mix and positioning of monsters instead of the extensive abilities of a single monster. I think it will work out better in the long run.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:13PM (#22481854)
    Wrath of the Dragon God (the D&D movie that hit Sci-Fi a while back) wasn't actually that bad. It had the nerd cheese of being a movie based on D&D, of course, but instead of trying to appeal to males 15-24 in general, it actually was written for players of the game. The lich was portrayed as the crafty manipulator you expect him to be, for instance, and all of the heroic characters were based on characters one might play (if they had a generous DM, anyway... +1 vorpal sword?!).

    Worth a rental, at least (although I confess to buying the DVD).

    And nobody tried to mack on the elf chick. (I don't know why not, though - she was hawt.)
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:25PM (#22484052)
    Amen.

    But, being fair, I'm not sure that it would have been practical to be playing 3E internally for the four years it took to realize some of their biggest mistakes with it.

    A lot of it is perspective. If you're a home game maybe a few sessions a year kind of player (as I am now), 3.5 could seem like a cash grab. If you're a heavy con/tournament player (as I was at the time), 3.5 seemed like an overdue patch to a hundred things we all knew were almost unplayably broken.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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