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A Veteran GM's First Impressions of D&D 4th Edition 330

Posted by timothy
from the oooh-glossy dept.
Martin Ralya writes "I spent several hours with the three core D&D 4th Edition books on launch day, and wrote a detailed look at all of them based on my first impressions. Two big takeaways: Yes, the World of Warcraft comparisons are fair (and a good thing), and the way character powers work now will make the game more fun for everyone."
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A Veteran GM's First Impressions of D&D 4th Edition

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  • It is great (Score:5, Funny)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:37PM (#23696581) Journal
    Yes, quite great. *gurps* Excuse me....
    • Re:It is great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oGMo (379) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:34PM (#23697253)

      Two things I find funny about D&D 4E in comparison to GURPS 4e (my generally-preferred system). Remember when GURPS 4e came out? Everyone whined it was too expensive. Now D&D 4E is over $100 for the PHB/DMG/MM basic set (no pun intended), though of course you can find it online for cheaper. Yet no one seems to be complaining.

      On the upside, many of the things that GURPS 4e did right D&D 4E is also doing right. Much improved rules layout and general unification/simplification of "stupid things". I was very much not a fan of d20 3.x for this exact reason; the entire ruleset was vomited into the book with what seemed like little attention to organization. (Remember GURPS 3e sidebars?)

      That said, D&D 4E is very much still the quick hack'n'slash ruleset. Of course, it doesn't have to be, but it certainly doesn't have the attention to character personality advantages/disadvantages and all the non-combat skills that GURPS does. But then not much else does, and that's why we all love GURPS, isn't it. ;-)

      • Re:It is great (Score:5, Informative)

        by deathy_epl+ccs (896747) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:42PM (#23697287)

        However, a big part of what I believe is going to push D&D 4e is the D&D Insider Online Tabletop with the voicechat and the rule handling and all that.

        We are at a point where tabletopping is ready to evolve, and Steve's reluctance to step in that direction could ultimately doom our beloved GURPS.

        I really hope that doesn't happen, but he has a pretty strict rule against anybody else creating online tabletopping software that does combat calculations... yet we really don't see his folks doing it either.

        • Re:It is great (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Ripit (1001534) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:06PM (#23697909)
          Doesn't WoW fill this need? Putting DnD online would invite unfavorable comparisons to Blizzard's juggernaut.


          Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought that DnD's main appeal was spending time with your friends in person. I really liked it for a couple of years. The reason was that I had friends who were fun to play with, and the funny rituals and habits we had that went along with it.

          I've continued to read a little about DnD in the 18 years since I stopped playing. I like to know what's going on with the evolution of the game, but now, my best friends are scattered across the continent, and the thought of playing with my local group of friends is lame.

          I like the idea of playing DnD. I just don't have the friends for it anymore. It somehow felt more comfortable to roll a toon on WoW and meet people online to play with, than to head down to the hobby shop on a game night. If I'm going to meet new people in person, I'd like food and alcohol involved.

          • Re:It is great (Score:5, Insightful)

            by packeteer (566398) <{packeteer} {at} {subdimension.com}> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:12PM (#23697933)
            Thats called growing up. Kudos to anyone who still has their friends around to play DnD but most people just dont. Not many people have a group of friends around where they can meet up all at the same time anymore. I still hang out with my old friends but usually not at the same time of day anymore.
          • Re:It is great (Score:5, Informative)

            by deathy_epl+ccs (896747) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @12:51AM (#23698513)

            Doesn't WoW fill this need? Putting DnD online would invite unfavorable comparisons to Blizzard's juggernaut.

            Not really... the tool they're releasing for D&D isn't an MMO, nor anything like it. It's more like having a digital tabletop that you can draw maps on, but you're still moving around miniatures on it, and the DM still makes the adventure and actually tells a story.

            That last bit is what I find to make it completely unlike WoW or any other MMO. The human element of somebody actively running the game you're playing. It is a vastly different experience.

            I personally would love to be able to play that way with my friends that are no longer local to me.

            • Re:It is great (Score:4, Interesting)

              by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:45AM (#23698829) Journal

              Unfortunately the tools are Windows only. That's me out, and it's also lost sales to any groups that have Mac and Linux users amongst them. Bad move on WotC's part.
              • Re:It is great (Score:5, Insightful)

                by deathy_epl+ccs (896747) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @03:12AM (#23698905)
                Bad move, yes... uncommon move? No.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Macthorpe (960048)
                Why is it a bad move? They would have to decide whether reaching another 6% of the audience is worth however much they'd have to spend porting their product. I would wager that they realised that it would cost far more to make it available for Mac and Linux than they'd ever get in sales.

                Sounds like a pretty good move, to me.
                • Re:It is great (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @05:31AM (#23699313) Journal

                  It's a bad move for a number of reasons. The first is the demographic they are targeting. Whilst Windows has a very high share of the market, that's taking into account business use as well as the trends of the overall population. I would say that the young and generally better than averagely educated demographic that make up D&D players is going to have a much greater proportion of Linux and Mac users. Secondly, it is a group activity, so whilst 4 out of 5 potential customers might be Windows users, it is still a big problem if one or two members of a group are not. When you need everyone in a group to be a Windows user, then suddenly that four out of five statistic looks like a serious issue. Thirdly is long term planning. Windows isn't going away in this year, but uptake of rival OS's is rising and this is especially the case in the home market where people can do what they like. Windows will hold on very well in the business world for quite some time, but that's again not the market WotC are after. They really have to think about the future here. Fourthly is the assumption that you make about the cost of porting their product to other OS's. If they had planned for this from the start they could have (a) taken a cross-platform approach (does DirectX 10 really offer that irresistable advantage to an application that moves static 3d figures around a board?) and (b) looked at a more web-based approach to their offering which would be better in any case. If they had set out to create a cross-platform solution they would have found the additional cost was not so great and certainly worth their while in terms of return.

                  I suspect WotC management were victims of listening to one individual with one way of doing things. It's all too easy to hire someone, even a very senior person, and have them tell you it should be done in way X and not know any better. It's a shame they didn't consult me, eh?
                  • Re:It is great (Score:4, Interesting)

                    by Macthorpe (960048) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @06:19AM (#23699469) Journal

                    I would say that the young and generally better than averagely educated demographic that make up D&D players is going to have a much greater proportion of Linux and Mac users.
                    Do you have any figures to back that up?

                    Secondly, it is a group activity, so whilst 4 out of 5 potential customers might be Windows users, it is still a big problem if one or two members of a group are not. When you need everyone in a group to be a Windows user, then suddenly that four out of five statistic looks like a serious issue.
                    It's currently just over 4.5 out of 5. When you use the actual proportion of users it doesn't look quite as clear cut as you'd like it to be.

                    Windows isn't going away in this year, but uptake of rival OS's is rising
                    The difference amounts to around percentage point or two over the last year, and that's pretty much all to Macs. Linux has gone from 0.4% to 0.6%, Mac up to 7%.

                    Fourthly is the assumption that you make about the cost of porting their product to other OS's.
                    A cursory analysis would show that the costs of porting to Mac, or starting with a cross-platform solution, would have to be no more than 7% higher in order to be viable, which I don't find very likely.

                    It's a shame they didn't consult me, eh?
                    I'm sure they're kicking themselves.
                    • Re:It is great (Score:4, Insightful)

                      by Haeleth (414428) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @06:28AM (#23699499) Journal

                      Do you have any figures to back that up?
                      That's rich. Where are your figures to back up your precious 6%?

                      Current estimates of overall Windows market share range from 91% to 96%, but that includes a heck of a lot of computers that are not owned by D&D players.
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by Omestes (471991)
                      I'm guessing the parent is right. DnD is the domain of nerds, as is alternative OSs. By marketing to the mainstream demographic, they forget that their product isn't mainstream, by any stretch. A higher percentage of DnD players will be using Linux or OS X than the average population, its rather hard to argue against this. If the new iteration of /. was IE only, would you be okay with that, since most people in the general population use IE? Or would you be mindful that most nerds use something else?

                      Th
                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by h4rm0ny (722443)

                      I don't have concrete figures to support my impression, but I can say with great confidence that the proportion of Windows to non-Windoes installations amongst home users is *not* the same proportion as the total computers out there including all those work desktops. And this is important because the work machines are irrelevant to WotC's marketing. The only thing that matters is what the role-players have at home and that's going to be substantially higher. So lets round up the 8% overall figure to what i
                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by Yosho (135835)
                      You realize that the link you provided says that non-Windows OS's take up 8.87% of the market, right? Not 6%? Windows' market share has dropped over 2% in the last year, which is honestly pretty significant.
                • Re:It is great (Score:5, Interesting)

                  by Haeleth (414428) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @06:23AM (#23699485) Journal

                  Why is it a bad move?
                  Because it limits their market.

                  They would have to decide whether reaching another 6% of the audience is worth however much they'd have to spend porting their product.
                  I find that 6% figure highly dubious in the inherently geeky D&D-playing demographic, but that isn't really the point.

                  See, this isn't the 1990s any more. Nowadays, making a Windows-only desktop app limits your userbase even among people who run Windows on their computer at home. Because they aren't always at home. Maybe they want to play D&D on their iPhone, had you thought of that? Or on their Windows Mobile phone, if that's what they prefer. If it was a web app, they could play it on any kind of device that has an internet connection.

                  Is that worth how much it would cost to port it? Oh, wait, if it was a web app, porting it would cost a whopping $0.00.

                  That's why developing a Windows-only desktop app is stupid, unless your app actually requires the kind of things that web apps don't do well, like real-time 3D graphics. Which D&D totally doesn't.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Haeleth (414428)

            Doesn't WoW fill this need? Putting DnD online would invite unfavorable comparisons to Blizzard's juggernaut.

            An online DnD would be incomparable to WoW, in the apples-and-oranges sense. I mean a real online DnD, by the way -- that is, with a human GM running a campaign for a small party of players -- not just a WoW clone using a DnD setting and rules.

            Or did your DnD campaigns really involve grinding for 60 levels, then raiding the same dungeon -- and killing the same villain! -- possibly hundreds of times,

        • Re:It is great (Score:5, Insightful)

          by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @11:55PM (#23698339)
          Well, personally, I don't think Evil Steve sees a lot of hope for GURPS as a line and think that taking the time to invest in forwarding it might be refurbishing a sinking ship. I think he'd rather focus on the next Munchkin or Chez Geek/Greek/Punk/Goth. Maybe relaunch Car Wars. Again.

          Back in the 3e salad days, there was a new GURPS suppliment released each month (leading some to remark, not entirely inaccurately that GURPS was less a game and more a gaming magazine.) 4th edition saw that brought down to a suppliment a quarter. (And a few PDF suppliments. Not that they don't count, but... they don't count.)

          There has not yet been a print release for any new GURPS 4th edition product in the entire year of 2008 so far. The next product in the queue is GURPS Thaumaturgy.

          Munchkin is on it's 6th expansion of the -core- rules which does not include all if it's spinoffs (Star Munchkin, Munchkin Bites, Munchkin Cthulu, Munchkin Fu, Super Munchkin, Munchkin Impossible, The Good, The Bad, and the Munchkin, etc.)

          I'm not saying that GURPS will be unsupported, but it is Munchkin, not GURPS that pays the bills - GURPS is the labour of love.
          • I'm not sure that I agree that Steve feels that way... if he did, I'm not so sure he'd be as tight fisted with it as he is. He probably wouldn't care if someone wanted to make a combat calculator or online tabletop software for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Omestes (471991)
          We are at a point where tabletopping is ready to evolve, and Steve's reluctance to step in that direction could ultimately doom our beloved GURPS.

          Why? I personally enjoy doing my paper and pen RPG thing with a group of real friends, located in a real room, drinking real beer, and eating real pizza. Its an excuse to have a social gathering. I don't see why it needs to, or should, "evolve" into another virtual thing, since that defeats the point to a large degree.

          Me and a bunch of friends used to play Shad
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lgw (121541)
            Moving the game mechanics into a computer will only enhance the "friends in a room" experience, because it both helps the casual player (don't have to read detailed rules until you care about optimizing outcome) and the rules lawyer problem (no more fights about rules interpretaitons: the software wins). This means you can spend more time role playing without moving to a "soft" system with no real combat rules.
      • Re:It is great (Score:4, Insightful)

        by moderatorrater (1095745) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:25PM (#23697987)
        That's one of the things that bothers me most about D&D. My favorite characters in Gurps have been because of their disadvantages, something that D&D doesn't have. Healers can be honest-to-goodness healers instead of (arguably) the most powerful fighting character in the game. My fighting character can be ridiculously bad at poetry but always showing it to people. Little touches like that turn the game into a true story instead of an abstract FPS.

        Also, the article spells out the combat-oriented nature of D&D, then the writer pretty much says straight up that he's never encountered non-combat situations. I understand there are players and GMs like that, but those aren't the games that I play. Whatever happened to awarding experience/character points for resolving the situation without pulling out your sword (literal or metaphorical)?

        It sounds like D&D becoming even more pidgeon-holed into its niche without incorporating the things other games do better. Please, wizards, play a few Gurps campaigns (at least one of which with a pacifist), read a few palladium books, and incorporate what they do well into your products!

        Disclaimer: at least 50% of my games are D&D, and I'm currently DM-ing a D&D game. This isn't coming from someone who hates the system, this is coming from someone who wishes the system weren't all about combat.
        • There's nothing to prevent your Dungeons and Dragons characters from having the weaknesses of a GURPS equivalent. The difference is mechanical - in GURPS you get bonus points for flaws, in Dungeons and Dragons you do not.
          • You do for mechanical combat disadvantages, in the form of feats at least, but only as an alternate ruleset.
          • Re:It is great (Score:4, Interesting)

            by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:52AM (#23698851) Journal

            Actually, in 4e there is a mechanical thing that prevents you have flaws. The skill system takes account of your level and you also don't invest points in skills, you just are trained or not. If you're a Level 10 Wizard, you're a better blacksmith than any level 1 villiage blacksmith. There's no way you can't swim, or rope-climb or dance. 4e characters can do just about anything. And the difference between trained and untrained is a on / off thing. Two Level 10 characters who are both trained in "Athletics" are equally perfect in simming, climbing and running. There's no differentiation.
            • Re:It is great (Score:4, Interesting)

              by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wo ... m ['aho' in gap]> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @06:29AM (#23699503)
              Some of the flaws the parent post mentioned revolved about poetry, addictions, codes of behavior, and phobias. Nothing prevents you from roleplaying those in Dungeons and Dragons.

              As I mentioned in other posts, the skill change was done to keep skill management simpler and give the game a more pulp and epic fantasy feel. Conan, Doc Savage, Aragorn, Gandalf, and most experienced characters in, for example, Jack Vance's Dying Earth books had a huge realm of competencies.

              The two 10th level characters trained in Athletics are still differentiated by their Dexterity modifier (or whichever modifier affects the Athletics skill check).
      • by epee1221 (873140)

        Now D&D 4E is over $100 for the PHB/DMG/MM basic set (no pun intended), though of course you can find it online for cheaper. Yet no one seems to be complaining.
        ... Where've you been? I've heard a lot of complaints about paying for everything again, especially after all the 3.5 supplements/accessories people have bought.
      • Hmm... you know, I'm not entirely sure I agree with you on this.

        When GURPS 4e came out, it was published in 2004 as two books. The complete set cost $75, and was designed to replace GURPS 3e's Basic Set, Compendium I and Compendium II.

        This was in 2004. Crude oil was trading at $30/barrel, and gas was around $2.25/2.50 gallon, depending on where you lived. You can peg things to the consumer price index, but that's a bit of a lie - the best way to determine how much things actually costs is to peg it in ter
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by negRo_slim (636783)

          the best way to determine how much things actually costs is to peg it in terms of gas. In 2004, GURPS 4e cost about 2 tanks of gas for a mid-sized sedan.
          That's the best way huh?

          What of those of us who don't drive, those that use mass transit or our own two legs? Can you do the math in bus tickets? Or light rail tokens? Or calories?

          ;)
          • by drsquare (530038)
            Even if you use the bus, that needs gas to move around. So do the trucks that bring all the stuff you buy. As do the farming vehicles which produce your food, and the factories which produce your goods.
          • by NuclearDog (775495) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:30AM (#23698801) Homepage
            Well:

            From this graph [boingboing.net], the price of corn in 2004 peaked at approximately $3.35/bushel. The latest price of corn on there was approximately $4.30/bushel.

            From this site [unc.edu], the approximate weight of one bushel of corn is 56 lbs. According to Google [google.ca] that's 25'401 grams.

            If you cut all of the kernels off of the cob, boil them, and eat them without salt or any other seasonings, according to this chart [calorie-count.com], it will contain 66 calories per 82 grams.

            This means one bushel contains approximately 20'445 calories.

            According to this list [nutristrategy.com], a 190 lb person running at 10mph (6 minute mile) will burn 1380 calories.

            So, you'll get 14.8 miles worth of calories out of one bushel of corn.

            So, in 2004 you'd be paying $0.226 per mile. Today you'd be paying $0.291 per mile. That's an increase of about 22.3%.

            An increase from $75 (GURPS 4e, 2004) to $105 (D&D 4e, 2008) is 28.6%.

            So given the questionable sources, estimations, etc I've used, I'd say that those numbers are close enough to conclude that the cost of the books has approximately followed the market.

            ND
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:39PM (#23696591)
    I put on my robe and my wizard hat.
  • by J'ai Friedpork (1293672) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:43PM (#23696611) Homepage
    ...having played less than 12 hours of DnD (or any tabletop game) in my life, this is the first time I've ever seen or heard something that made me want to sit down and play DnD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gfxguy (98788)
      I remember when I first started with the "Red Box" way back when. All I can say is, simpler was better and more fun. When my DM started using all sorts of fancy hit charts and other things to add "realism," it took twice as long to do about the same amount of stuff as we had been doing before. I haven't played in like 25 years, now.

      Certainly not since WotC bought the rights. By now my son is just about the right age, and he's a nerd like his old man. I think, though, I'm going to wait until fall for th
      • I have to somewhat agree with this. I'd been playing since 1st Edition AD&D. Some of the the changes that WotC brought were just completely unnecessary. Sure, AD&D's combat system was a bit primitive, but 3rd Edition D&D's was so complex that it took three times as long to do anything, and it had a lot of unrealistic restrictions that were created to do nothing more than hinder the players. WotC threw the baby out with the bath water with 3rd Edition, and having looked at the 4th edition books a
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DuckDodgers (541817)
        "Simpler" stuff like: varying XP tables by class with; saving throw charts that didn't follow a simple arithmetic progression; hosts of magical spells to choose from; spell memorization and related spell slot management to contend with; totally random variance in spell ranges, areas of effect, and duration; simple character generation and hit point generation rules that boiled down to "invent your own more fair rules or else just pray you don't end up with a first level Fighter with 1 hit point"; a thieving
  • An everyone game? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zekeums (1300089) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:47PM (#23696625)
    It seems a bit funny to me that they are making it WoW-like in the "everybody can play easily" quality. I never liked that about WoW, because it just meant that a bunch of idiots could sign on and play, but in a tabletop game it will just make it easier for friends who thought it was too complicated before to get into it. Hearing this about it makes me happy.
    • by Lendrick (314723) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:54PM (#23696675) Homepage Journal
      Yes, fortunately you don't have to invite a bunch of idiots to your table in order to get a D&D game going (although in my experience, the complexity of the game never kept the idiots out anyway).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ribbo.com (885396)

        Yes, fortunately you don't have to invite a bunch of idiots to your table in order to get a D&D game going (although in my experience, the complexity of the game never kept the idiots out anyway).
        Given most of the D&D brigade I knew are stoners, simplifying things is a huge bonus.
  • by Andtalath (1074376) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:53PM (#23696665)
    Reading it only says so much. I had my first session today, and I must say that I found it less MMO:ish once you actually started playing it. Sure, some fundamental rules use the same ideas, but, that is in no way an issue when actually playing. I must say I liked DM:ing it, but it will be a while before I learn the mechanics, they are far less intuitive past a certain level since every power is an exception to the very bare core. So, a lot more "studying" is necessary than previous editions if you want to learn it all, but there is a shorter span until you can start playing your first game and understand what you are doing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:57PM (#23696701)
    ...and had a blast. My brother and I have never played D&D, but I have been listening to podcasts and reading about it for the past few months and definitely wanted to give it a try with someone who knew what they were doing.

    We had a great time, especially when we essentially tied down an Ice Dragon and our main Fighter intimidated the Dragon into giving up (even without knowing the Dragon's language!) and we won the encounter without even killing it! It was so much more fun than raiding Onyxia, especially given all the freedom you have in D&D. I bought a book and can't wait to rope all my friends into it.
  • My impressions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:15PM (#23696813) Homepage
    I posted my review at here [outshine.com]. It seems to be unapologetic in imitating many aspects of MMORPGs. So you can like that or not, but its there. The good news is that unlike previous editions, when 3.5 goes out of print, there will still be many ways to get the rules. 3.5 is open-sourced (kinda). See d20srd.org. Also Pathfinder will provide new 3.6-ish books for new players wanting to try the old edition. Overall it's going to be a better time for all RPGers, even if you don't like 4th edition.
    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
      Just for your knowledge, people are calling Pathfinder "3.75".
    • I think several differences between 4e and MMORPGs are crucial:

      - 4e PCs are limited in the amount of magical gear they can use compared to earlier editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and (in theory, I haven't read the books yet) less dependent upon their magical gear to be effective. I don't want my high level tabletop character or fantasy MMORPG character to be completely and utterly useless without 2 magic rings, a magic belt, some special magic weapon, and 4 other magic items on his person.

      - 4e Fighte
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually it's quite easy to get ahold of previous editions as well. Google the following projects:
      - OSRIC (AD&D 1e)
      - BFRPG (Basic D&D w/ some mods)
      - Labyrinth Lord (Basic D&D)
      - Mazes & Minotaurs (1974 D&D with a Greek mythology flavour)
      - Swords & Wizardry (1974 D&D - brand new project)
      Some of these aren't just PDFs either. They publish actual books via retailers and/or lulu.com.
      Additionally I'd suggest looking into Castles & Crusades, with is a much bigger commercial projec
  • A Veteran GM's First Impressions of D&D 4th Edition

    Should it be DM, or do I not know what GM stands for...
    • by Alotau (714890) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:22PM (#23696843)

      Should it be DM, or do I not know what GM stands for...
      "GM" is a "Game Master." So a DM is a GM for D&D. GM is just more generic and doesn't have to be associated with D&D or even this genre of role-playing games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Z34107 (925136)

      DM is an acronym for, "Downstairs, Mom!" in reference to one's basement dwelling.

      GM is obviously a clerical error, as the "G" is only two spaces over from the "D" on a QWERTY keyboard. It would also be a different dialect.

      I kid, I kid. But I don't like the 4th edition rules. They simplify things that are handled transparently by a good DM anyway, and it seems to remove a lot of depth.

  • As a former player when I was a kid, I recently saw these two videos on youtube and think it's a great parody of the stereotypical DND player:

    Episode 1: http://youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI [youtube.com]
    Episode 2: http://youtube.com/watch?v=bP3GYdrW450 [youtube.com]

    • No, the best evocation of gamer geeks, ever, was in the late, lamented series MTV's Downtown.

      Here's a little taste...

      The two kinds of people in the world [youtube.com].

      If you want more, go to Chris Prynoski's blog [blogspot.com] and you will find instructions on how to see the entire series. Including the 5th episode, "The Con" which is what this clip I linked to is from.

      "NO! She's revealed the secret map!!! The campaign is ruined!!!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:27PM (#23696869)
    The 4e books have about 1/4 the content of previous edition books. They have large type, a lot of whitespace, and hell of a lot of repetition and iteration through trivial variants.

    Every new power or creature has an embarassingly bad "Magic: The Gathering" style name, which often has only a slight connection to the game mechanic it represents. Many of the powers have rules that only make sense in combat, and the ones that are designed to be done outside of combat are slapdash.

    It's all designed around "game balance" (i.e. balance as a competitive tactics boardgame, not as a cooperative role-playing game) to the point of continual absurdity.

    I could go on and on, but there is a lot to hate in 4e, and anyone who gives it an entirely uncritical review is either taking money or ignorant of previous editions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Or...they simply feel differently about it than you do.

      Why is it relevant that the books have 1/4th the content of previous editions? Is volume of content relevant to the playability or enjoyability of a game system?
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx. b c .ca> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:27PM (#23696873) Journal
    Fantasy-oriented computer games started out by trying to imitate games like D&D, and now D&D is trying to imitate them.
    • by MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) <dylan&dylanbrams,com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:52PM (#23697009) Homepage Journal
      See, I want to take this another level. There was a tremendous amount of experimentation done with online games. How many MUD's are there? I'd bet the best of those MUD's ended up giving their best programmers / designers to online gaming. And so the stuff people liked about MUD'ding got pushed into the online games, and the online games cross-pollinated. This, indeed, has nothing to do with what happened with tabletop games. I've met many, many people with custom systems.... And they didn't cross-pollinate as much. It's just harder to do. So computers made making the game a better process.
  • Sorry I don't care about your revenue streams generated by D&D v4.0. It doesn't make the game more playable to me. 4.0 D&D is targeting the computer gamers not the 25 year "ONGOING" campaign running DM and Gamers of the past. It's not the same game it was 25 years ago and they're just capitalizing on the old TRS Trade Mark and branding. Just call it something else and leave the Classics alone, instead of improving it to the point that it evolves in to something entirely else at the lowest of standar
    • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:03PM (#23697075)

      It doesn't make the game more playable to me.
      Hey now... anything makes the game more playable than 2.0. I've seen bricks that were more playable games than D&D 2.0.
      • by dr00g911 (531736) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:05PM (#23697651)
        I spent the day hashing over the 4E rules, and I must say that just about all the changes I see are very good from a real-world, let's get 5 people together and have fun for 3 hours kinda way.

        One of the reasons that I've clung to my original 1E rules over the years (I've got the '70s version and an early '80s reprint of the 3 core books) is that 2E and 3E just seemed to needlessly complicate the hell out of everything. Instead of 15 minutes to fight a party of Orcs, the encounters started taking an hour or more -- OMG skill check, fortitude check, balance check, grapple check, sphincter check. Every single 2E or 3.xE game that I've participated in had house rules to bring combat closer to 1E just so your 3 hour gaming session had some actual progress instead of 2 encounters, loot, nite guys!

        Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I really think the rules are a basic framework within which to enjoy making a story with friends. I've never really played D&D with any powergamer or rules lawyer types, and to be honest, I'm thankful.

        If you want sim-style combat, and save/skill checks out the ass, make house rules. Just don't overcomplicate the core rulebooks!

        To sum up: I'm very happy with almost everything I've seen in the 4E rules so far. They mean that I can get buddies and their wives together on short notice and have a game up and running in an hour. Character development is quite a bit more like CRPGs and WoW, which is fine by me! Most people who'd play at my table already understand spec/talent systems from WoW or wherever -- it just means there's less to explain, and it prompts characters to think about goals from the beginning (I love the destiny bit -- getting players to think about their character as part of an enormous story arc is great!).

        I've heard a lot about the loss of Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil, but they're honestly still there -- just called Good and Evil now. Part of me misses the old-style 9 grid alignment diagram, but I definitely won't miss having to explain those two apparent oxymorons to new players. I also *quite* like the new Unaligned (instead of true neutral) alignment -- far less restrictive than true neutral used to be. No druids in PHB1, alas, but I'm sure they'll be in PHB2. All of the starting classes are full-on archetypes, and there are none of what MMO types would call "hybrid classes".

        The only things I truly dislike about the 4E rules so far is that it seems impossible to do combat without a minigrid. Again, I'm probably in the minority here, but I've always preferred more storytelling-style combat instead of sim/wargame style. It made gaming sessions move much more quickly. We'll see if I end up house-ruling over that after trying it out. I doubt seriously that I'd ever use the loot parcel rule. Magic items in my games are very few and very far between, mostly because the games are about the story, not lewts + power.

        Anyhow, this is the first edition since the original that I think I'll adopt. I like the organization of the books, the playing advice/primers and even the DMing advice.
    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)

      If I want to run a fast moving pen and paper well balanced D&D type game the options tend to get poorer the farther I seem to move farther from AD&D v2.0.

      That's odd, because every review I've read of D&D 4th says that it's very balanced, very easy to get into, and the game moves quickly and smoothly. Then again, the reviews I read were saying that the game is made more for the common person (what do you know, a company trying to sell their product to as many people as possible) and not the peopl

  • Propoganda much? (Score:4, Informative)

    by bekeleven (986320) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:00PM (#23697063)
    This "article" is sad in its unapologetic sycophanty. It says that everything in hte book is good.
    - Spells are called "powers" (goodbye psionics?) and are detailed in the class section; there is no other"magic" area in the book. Great for a person only playing a wizard, ever, but wtf for people making classes. Horrible.
    - No confirm criticals, criticals are just max damage on a 20. Goodbye dramatic tension as you bunch over the faded die, figuring out if you got a 7 or 17 on that confirm roll. Goodbye variability. Goodbye fight-ending strike.
    - Most rolls 1d20+1/2 character level+other. Wow, that means that high level people will be able to do everything better than 1st level players! Horrible.
    - They increased type size AND whitespace in the books. Yep, less content.
    - The PHB tells players how to play AND the GM how to gm. No dice.
    - They still didn't simplifiy combat. Good god, I thought that was the reason they made another edition.
    - No ranks in skills. So much for making a detailed and unique character, huh? Cookie-cutter it is then.
    - Attackers roll saves instead of defenders. Stupid. It takes the fate out of your hands and into mine, not to mention I have to look up the bonus a cliff gets to its reflex attack. wtf?
    - No strategy. Instead of having to rest and pray (or study) to gain spells back, they have the equivalent of "cooldown" (which I can forgive in an MMO, but makes no real-world sense). Basically your players can use their best spells every fight. No strategy, no need for lower-level spells at all. Why do they even exist once you pass 5th level (or whatever level it is you get fireball now)?
    -On that subject, he makes a big deal of how there is only ONE CHART!!!!! LOL for all classes, and says it is simplifying. Then he says you slip to the section on your class to get, essentially, your unique "key" to help you read the chart. GG.
    -"There are fewer types of action, standard, move, minor and free." Given that that's about the same as 3.5 core (full-round, standard, move and free), I wonder about this guy's mental health exclaiming its virtues.
    -Diagonal movement works the same as lateral movement". I assume this means they moved to hexes? no? Then I guess you can move faster by moving diagonally in about ANY circumstance. Once again, way to break the world.
    -Every class has two suggested "builds". What did I say before about telling us how to play? Honestly, at least leave WHO we play up to us. Similarly, each class has a "role". Not that they are customizable or anything. Nope, it's just like "Do you want a DD or a tank?" all over again.
    -Retraining is now not only core, but really basic. So in other words, feel free not to put thought into what skills and feats you take, just get the shiniest ones and clean up later.
    - His section on the DMG made me just a little bit nauseous. He was all, "saying that people have to cooperate?! Not only is this idea foreign to the other Dungeon Master's Guides, but nobody but those savants at WotC would've thought of it! I thank them for imparting this knowledge into my undeserving hands."
    -Treasure parcels. It's where you get 4 magic items and some money. Before I decided treasure by what the villain would have; how foolish! Now I have learned to make sure everyone gets a magical item every encounter!
    -MM has 1 monster per page. In other words, say goodbye to all of the lesser-used guys: lantern archons, rasts, all them things my players would always scratch their heads about when they first appeared. Say hello to there being monsters someone with any time could easily memorize all the weak points to, and just plain not enough to make dungeons flarvorfully unique.
    -In the MM section he makes deals over things that ALREADY existed, like a picture for each monster.
    -Replaced DR with something that means the same. This guy loves it.
    - Everything is just to explain to newbies how to play. No advanced mechanics. No strategy. No fun.

    I think you can tell about everything you need about this reviewer when
    • Re:Propoganda much? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Koiu Lpoi (632570) <koiulpoi@nosPam.gmail.com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:27PM (#23697203)

      - No strategy. Instead of having to rest and pray (or study) to gain spells back, they have the equivalent of "cooldown" (which I can forgive in an MMO, but makes no real-world sense). Basically your players can use their best spells every fight. No strategy, no need for lower-level spells at all. Why do they even exist once you pass 5th level (or whatever level it is you get fireball now)?
      You haven't even read the books at ALL, have you? There's 3 kinds of powers - at will (you can do them whenever, all day, usually low damage/low utility), 1/encounter (you can use these once per battle, and you have to take a 5 minute rest before you can use them again), and 1/day (you have to sleep for 6 hours to get them back). There's also a good deal of variety in the abilities, and yes, there is reason to use Magic Missile after you get Fireball. The system works great, and there is a HUGE amount of strategy involved, it's just very different from 3.5's "everything is x/day". And, come on, did you just try to argue that having SPELLS work on a cooldown system makes no REAL WORLD sense?

      I really don't feel like refuting the rest of your post, but mods, note that this guy has never seen the books himself, has never played with the system, and is knee-jerking at it without knowing what he's talking about.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PrimalChrome (186162)
        I get the impression that the poster was addressing the fanboi aspect of the 'review' as much as the odd new edition features he was championing.

        The fact that the 'veteran DM' only dated back to AD&D2.0 and his review read like it was written by a dim witted cheerleader made it useless to most readers.

        I'd debated buying all the 4.0 books to read through and develop an educated opinion....but most of the reviews I've read so far (particularly those written by fanbois) has totally turned me off of thi

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
          While he was arguing against the fanboy aspect of the article, almost all his points are about how ridiculous he thinks 4th edition is.

          As for D&D 4th, not to point anyone in the direction of anything illegal, but there might have been a leak of the books you can peruse. Personally, I think it was intentional, as people will be able to read over the books online this way, and then they will be more likely to buy the books (and their friends...) when they see what it's really all about.

          I'm no 4th edition
    • 3. .....
      4 Go outside. it's nice there.
    • by Yosho (135835) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:07PM (#23697387) Homepage
      Honestly, most of your post shows that you don't know anything about 4e and are just having a gut reaction based on opinions you've heard. But, I'll go ahead and refute a few of your more blatantly wrong points...

      Spells are called "powers" (goodbye psionics?) and are detailed in the class section; there is no other"magic" area in the book. Great for a person only playing a wizard, ever, but wtf for people making classes. Horrible.

      Psionics will be in the PHB2. If you're making your own class, you can either steal the wizard's power list (which is what everybody did in 3rd ed) or make your own. No problems there, that's exactly how it's always been -- the only difference is that the wizard's abilities are listed with him rather than in their own chapter.

      - No confirm criticals, criticals are just max damage on a 20. Goodbye dramatic tension as you bunch over the faded die, figuring out if you got a 7 or 17 on that confirm roll. Goodbye variability. Goodbye fight-ending strike.

      I'm really sorry if the most exciting part of your game is trying to figure out whether you rolled a 7 or 17. Also, you might be interested to know that this was something that was new in 3rd ed, anyway.

      - Most rolls 1d20+1/2 character level+other. Wow, that means that high level people will be able to do everything better than 1st level players! Horrible.
      - No ranks in skills. So much for making a detailed and unique character, huh? Cookie-cutter it is then.

      High level characters are already capable of doing everything better than low-level characters, if they put their minds to it. Also, proficiency and skill focus still factor into your die rolls, so it'll take a very significant difference in levels before a high-level character who focuses on a skill will be able to easily beat a low-level character who focuses on it. Besides, since when have skill ranks made anybody unique? Unless you were intentionally crippling yourself for roleplaying flavor, every class basically had a few skills that they'd keep maxed out and never put points in any others. Dropping skill ranks and making rolls 1d20 + 1/2 level + other effectively produces the same results and eliminates one of the most tedious parts of writing up the stats for a new character.

      - Attackers roll saves instead of defenders. Stupid. It takes the fate out of your hands and into mine, not to mention I have to look up the bonus a cliff gets to its reflex attack. wtf?

      All they're doing is making things consistent. In 3rd ed, when you make a melee attack, you roll, add your attack bonus, and if you beat the opponent's AC, you hit them. When you made a magical attack, though, the DM got to roll, add the attack bonus (the monster's save), and compare it to the target AC (your save DC). Now it works exactly the same way for spells, too; the attacker is in control of the "fate" of their attacks.

      - No strategy. Instead of having to rest and pray (or study) to gain spells back, they have the equivalent of "cooldown" (which I can forgive in an MMO, but makes no real-world sense). Basically your players can use their best spells every fight. No strategy, no need for lower-level spells at all. Why do they even exist once you pass 5th level (or whatever level it is you get fireball now)?

      This is so completely wrong that I won't even bother, other than saying that you need to read the book.

      -"There are fewer types of action, standard, move, minor and free." Given that that's about the same as 3.5 core (full-round, standard, move and free), I wonder about this guy's mental health exclaiming its virtues.

      3rd ed had full round, standard, move, free, swift, and immediate actions. Further complicating things was the fact that you had to combine your standard and move for a full round, and you could trade your standard down for a move action, but couldn't trade anything down for a swift action. 4e removed the full round action and renam

      • by Yosho (135835)

        so it'll take a very significant difference in levels before a high-level character who focuses on a skill will be able to easily beat a low-level character who focuses on it.
        Oops -- of course, I meant to say a high-level character who doesn't focus on a skill won't beat a low-level character who focuses on it.
      • He'll just regenerate anyway. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Randwulf (997659)
      D&D 4E seems more of a miniatures combat game (with computer friendly rules) than a true roleplaying game. It is very much designed to sell 'Core' books, Miniatures, and subscriptions to D&D Insider -- roleplaying almost seems an afterthought. D&D 3.x had it's flaws but I could design a character I wanted to play. 4E gives a bunch of options, but isn't really flexible -- try designing a pacifist cleric of a god of love with 4E rules to see what I mean. I think if designing a truly awesome RPG wa
    • They still didn't simplify combat. Good god, I thought that was the reason they made another edition.
      I find this particular comment funny, since you are complaining about how they have simplified everything else.

      By the way: Nobody is forcing you to use the new edition.
    • Spells are called "powers" (goodbye psionics?) and are detailed in the class section; there is no other"magic" area in the book. Great for a person only playing a wizard, ever, but wtf for people making classes. Horrible.
      There are spell rituals any class can learn that replace most of the non-combat spells from earlier editions.
      No confirm criticals, criticals are just max damage on a 20. Goodbye dramatic tension as you bunch over the faded die, figuring out if you got a 7 or 17 on that confirm roll. Goo
    • Strange. Most of the things you said about 4e are flat out incorrect, which you'd realize if you read the books. But the things you said that are actually correct about 4e, I think really are improvements. Points of note:

      - No confirm criticals, criticals are just max damage on a 20. Goodbye dramatic tension as you bunch over the faded die, figuring out if you got a 7 or 17 on that confirm roll. Goodbye variability. Goodbye fight-ending strike.

      Critical hits were stupid in 3e. Getting within crit range quadrupled the number of dice you had to roll, and the vast majority of the time you ended up just doing maximum normal damage anyway (since that's what double dice averages to on a bell-curve with a very high standard deviation).

  • Failed Save (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by lww (323019)
    Guess the server failed its Fortitude DC 150 save vs slashdotting...
  • twenty-sided-dice-throwing over... oh wait, that'll never happen!
  • ...and I play a monk. No monks in 4th ed. Time for a new character.

    I know, I'll play a barbarian...ooops, no barbarians in 4th ed.

    Well, if I can't be a monk and I can't be a barbarian...how about the good ol' half-orc fighter. Nope. No half-orcs, either.

    I guess I could play a fey Eladrin Warlord. Except that I'm straight.

  • Original D&D, three white box set and suppluments such as Blackmoor and Gods Demigods and heroes in the 1970s

    THAT makes me a veteran

    I think I'll avoid this incarnation from everything that is being said
    • and bragging about it makes you...

      ( ) 1) winner of the internets
      ( ) 2) respected and loved
      ( ) 3) appear intelligent
      (X) 4) an ass
      (X) 5) an even bigger dork than the OP

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MsGeek (162936)
        No, that simply makes him someone who's been gaming for a while. Me, I started around '83. Traveller. AD&D. Good times. Yes, girls were playing back then. There just weren't a hell of a lot of us. Stopped playing back in '87 or so. Got reintroduced with BESM. Too bad Tri-Stat is pretty much dead...thanks a lot White Wolf. Very cool system of gameplay for "storyteller" kind of FRP campaigns, not so much for "dice weenie" kind of FRP campaigns.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "THAT makes me a veteran"

      No, that just makes you old.
    • If you've been doing something for 19 years, you're a veteran at it by any sane standard. Gaming doesn't work on the seniority system. This is a hobby, not a union payscale.

      And frankly, if you've been doing the same thing for 30 years, and all you can do is flaunt close-mindedness on any new ideas and pooh-pooh the experience of anyone who came a few years after you that officially makes you an old fart, not a veteran.
  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:04PM (#23697897) Journal

    Alas, it feels like the collectible craze has finally struck the heart of D&D.

    At the risk of sounding like I'm shaking my cane at those dratted kids (and maybe I am), this isn't a followup to the classic game, it's a repackaged version of the miniatures game. Look at the monsters ... they're essentially a card. The actual description, background and mythology of the creatures are negligible. The mechanics themselves are designed to be bound to a board, not played out in the imagination.

    On some level I guess I can't blame them. As a system linking MMORPGs, miniatures games and card games, it works. They look at the income of Magic the Gathering or WOW and say "why can't we get a piece of that?!" so they design a game that will allow them to leverage the different merchandise against each other. It's not a bad system if that's what you have in mind and I can see it being very successful in that Microsoft sort of way. I know a lot of people who wouldn't touch this system with a 10-foot pole if it didn't have the D & D name on it, but since it does, they probably won't want to play anything else.

    What's really sad to me is how hard it is to dig up any information on what can or cannot be created and distributed by players. They seemed to be starting to get the hang of it with opening the d20 system but this feels like a step in the opposite direction. It's becoming about leveraging their games onto players, not about empowering players to create their own games and worlds. I want tools to create stories with, to build worlds with ... as a gamer, I'm not a consumer of fantasy, I'm a creator of fantasy.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @10:15PM (#23697949)
    Some friends of mine were running one of the D&D game days going on today to introduce 4th edition. Due to some unforeseen circumstances I wasn't able to make it in time to play, so when I did show up about an hour later I decided to just hang out and watch.

    What really surprised me and I totally did not expect from anything I'd heard about 4E is how much longer combats took to resolve. A little bit of that was clearly, okay, here are people are familiar with 3E and can play 3E fast and this is new so it takes longer, but... more, the amount of hit points everyone has have gone up a lot, the access to healing that everyone has has gone up a lot, characters can heal while doing other things, damage hasn't gone up a lot, and spells and powers that can really turn the momentum of a fight (e.g., 3E slow vs. creatures with a large number of weak attacks) have pretty much gone away.

    The D&D game day module was for pregenerated first level characters. In all earlier editions of the game, combat for first level characters will go pretty damn fast. No one has the hit points to take much of a beating, and maybe your cleric has 3 cure spells to throw around. In 4E, everyone at the table is getting healing surges for hit points back all over the place. No joke, in the middle of one combat I left to get some dinner and decided to have a sit-down meal at a restaurant about 15 minutes away. I got back around an hour and a half later and the same combat was still going and no end was in sight. In previous editions that would never, ever, happen with first level characters.

    Maybe I'll come around to thinking that's a good thing, but personally, I enjoyed the way 1-3E played at low levels, and the way they played at mid levels, and the ways in which those were different. (If 4E actually did successfully fix how much the game broke down at high levels, I may be able to make peace with this.)
  • I think that the time is right for what I'm calling a Computer Aided Roleplaying Game (CARPG).

    What this would be is a mostly traditional tabletop RPG (not a Computer RPG or MMORPG), but the game would be designed from the ground up with an accompanying computer program and you would be required to have at least one computer at the table to run the software. The system requirements would be very modest (no real-time 3D or the like), so I don't think that it is asking too much for 4+ geeks to scare up one old
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @04:36PM (#23702671)
    I find it rather strange that in a community so bent on not being mainstream, only the prime mainstream RPG is discussed.
    Having played well over 20 RPG systems myself, I can safely say that D&D (no matter which edition) is one of the worst I've ever played. But that's just my impression. From a passionate RPG player, here are some alternatives to D&D Fantasy Roleplay:

    Palladium & Rifts [palladiumbooks.com]
    Exalted [white-wolf.com]
    Runequest [mongoosepublishing.com]
    Harnmaster [columbiagames.com]
    GURPS [sjgames.com]
    Torg [westendgames.com]

    If you haven't played at least one of the above besides D&D, you should do it ASAP.

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak

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