Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This saves me some typing.

Not a gorilla slayer, just an alternative.
Today I planned on writing a bit about Pathfinder, the newly announced 3.5 successor game from Paizo. But it turns out that Trollsmyth has already said everything I had to say, so go check out his blog for my opinion. Funny how that works out.

10 comments:

  1. wulfgar12:20 PM

    Here's a couple of semi-related questions.

    I recently read an interview with someone from WotC about D&D 4e. What caught my eye was:

    Question: Will 4e require the use of miniatures?

    Answer: Well, we anticipate that most players will use miniatures, but miniatures are no more required in 4e than the previous edition.

    Instead of a simple yes or no, I'm left wondering what that answer means. I've never played 3.0 or 3.5. The only D20 books I've ever owned were D20 Modern and Urban Arcana, so I'm no "modern" D&D expert. But, from what I've read at your blog and elsewhere I've gathered that 3.5 pretty much DOES require the use of miniatures. Is that the case?

    Second question- what are your thoughts about the approaching 4e Jeff? Excited anticpation, cringing with terror, yawning with apathy, or something else?

    Initially, I didn't even consider picking up the game, but as I read more about it SOME of the things they've done mechanically sound neat (others definitely don't though). I don't want to play on a virtual kitchen table, I don't want to pay for a subscription service, I don't want to need miniatures and big tactical map all the time, and I don't want every pc to be able to do everything under the sun. Yet, at the same time I find myself actually considering buying this game. Why? It sounds like it might be fun that's why. Of course thematically the whole thing sounds more like Final Fantasy than D&D though.

    One final D&D thought. In reading stuff about the pending 4e, I've seen several comments from WotC and from regular gamers about how AD&D2 was a huge step up in complexity from AD&D. Am I the only one who goes "What?" when I read that. I've always found 2nd Edition much easier rules wise than AD&D. (Of course not counting the players option stuff which was really proto-3e more than 2e).

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  2. I'm just waiting for someone to use some kind of "4th Edition Rules - 3.5th Edition Feel!" advertising tagline :)

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  3. (the above crack not related to Pathfinder specifically, of course, just to the broader topic)

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  4. 3.0/3.5 require miniatures only slightly more than AD&D. For both, they're handy but not necessary for figuring out spell areas of effect and ranges. D20 adds attacks of opportunity and flanking but removes facing.

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  5. But, from what I've read at your blog and elsewhere I've gathered that 3.5 pretty much DOES require the use of miniatures. Is that the case?

    Without minis you have to ignore or handwave vast chunks of mechanics. You can play without the minis, but I don't know why you'd want to, to be honest. The strength of the system is in the gridded tactical combat.

    Second question- what are your thoughts about the approaching 4e Jeff?

    I am absolutely certain that the folks behind 4e will produce a slick, great game. But I fear they have it in their power to produce a great game that is also a lousy edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

    I've seen several comments from WotC and from regular gamers about how AD&D2 was a huge step up in complexity from AD&D. Am I the only one who goes "What?" when I read that. I've always found 2nd Edition much easier rules wise than AD&D.

    Anybody who says 2nd edition AD&D was more complicated than the first edition never tried to play a combat by the rules in the DMG. Nor did they ever attempt to use 1st edition psionics. Mechanically, 2nd edition was a much slicker operation in many ways.

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  6. astute19:07 PM

    While you can play 3/3.5 edition without minis, you'd never want to. The best part about 3rd edition is how well the tactical combat rules work. If you're not going to use those rules, you'd likely be better served by a system that focuses on some other aspect of gameplay. It looks like 4th edition is going to continue that trend. Many of the powers I've seen allow you to push people around the battlefield, or teleport yourself or your allies into advantageous positions.

    My thoughts on 4th edition. Mechanically, some of the things sound interesting, although I'm opposed to the lack of customization that I've seen in some of the playtest stuff. 3rd edition gave a DM access to the whole toolbox - if you wanted a new monster or spell or feat, the rules for creating in were in the books. In 4th edition, you don't have access to the toolbox at all, it seems. Monsters are pre-written stat-blocks. If you want a new monster, you've got to reverse engineer it and cobble something together. That bothers me. Likewise, the fact that classes are very narrowly defined in 4th edition really bothers me. A third edition fighter could be a heavily armored tank, a dodgy two-weapon swashbuckler or an expert archer. A fourth edition fighter is defined as wearing heavy armor. A fourth edition rogue has many abilities that don't function when he is wearing armor heavier than leather or a weapon other than a light blade.

    Finally, there's D&D Insider. I was OK with this at first, although I wasn't planning on buying into it. However, the more I hear about it, the more it seems that the best feats and classes from each new release are going to be insider-only. For example, the class that was getting the most buzz on most of the big forums was the "swordmage" - some kind of arcane melee class. Well, I'm sure we were all surprised when wizards announced that the swordmage hadn't made it into the PHB because of "space." It will be available to subscribers on Insider, though. I can foresee a scenario somewhere down the road where the "premium" players - those that subscribe to Insider - have access to better classes and equipment than those that don't subscribe. That's a really disturbing thought.

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  7. Hey, always happy to lend a hand, Jeff.

    You can play without the minis, but I don't know why you'd want to, to be honest. The strength of the system is in the gridded tactical combat.

    Which is why most of my D&D-style gaming is still 2nd edition. I really wanted to like 3rd edition, since it purged AD&D of many of its icky game-isms, like race-based level caps and class-based equipment restrictions. But gridded tactical combat isn't worth the effort the way most of my games play. We're usually more worried about the limitations on divinations or exactly how far we can blackmail Lord Humperdink before he decides we've pushed him too far.

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  8. I can foresee a scenario somewhere down the road where the "premium" players - those that subscribe to Insider - have access to better classes and equipment than those that don't subscribe. That's a really disturbing thought.

    I must admit that, outside of competitive tournament games (say, Magic, and many other non-RPGs), the concept of "better" items in a roleplaying game that I am, definitionally, going to be playing with a small group of friends never really made much sense to me.

    I have to add the caveat that I'm not in the target market for most of the type of premium content you're mentioning, anyway. When I first saw Prestige classes in 3.0, I thought, "Geez. That's lame." For me, a simple Fighter (or Thief, or Mage, or whatever) is a billion times cooler than being an Incantatrix or Planar Champion. Prestige classes, whether in D&D, Star Wars, D20 Modern or elsewhere, always reeked of all those wack-ass classes in Best of Dragon like, "Cloistered Cleric" and "stay-at-home parent" or whatever. If you're gonna have a class system, it really needs to top out at maybe 10 classes or so (even Vampire, where 13 Clans made good thematic sense, started running out of ideas around Clan number 9 or so).

    But yeah, when I see some D20 product and the major advertising on the back is for the new Prestige classes inside, I shrug and move on. I'm certainly not disappointed to have a bunch of them not sucking up space in core books.

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  9. wulfgar6:45 AM

    Hmmm, read some more preview interviews and articles about 4e last night. Much of the game rules do sound kind of interesting, but it definitely seems like they're going out of their way to teak the noses of us with "old school" sensibilities. For example: supposedly the new rules will encourage DMs to hand out experience to the PCs of players who don't even show up for the game session. Basically, to keep everyone's self-esteem up.

    Aye Carumba!

    The emphasis on grided combat and mini's should be a red warning flag to me, since we tried that way back with Player's Option and really didn't like it. Still there's the temptation of having a copy of the current in print rules for D&D for the first time in more than a decade.

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  10. Jeff -

    Anybody who says 2nd edition AD&D was more complicated than the first edition never tried to play a combat by the rules in the DMG. Nor did they ever attempt to use 1st edition psionics. Mechanically, 2nd edition was a much slicker operation in many ways.

    In my experience a lot of the arguments about 2nd edition being more complicated than 1st edition end up boiling down to two basic issues:

    1) 2nd edition is organized more as a reference work than 1e was. So the rules are more obvious. I've been in discussions with folks who swear some rule was new to 2nd edition when I can recall my 1e DM using it. And when I go to look it up I eventually find it somewhere - usually in the 1e DMG and usually not where you'd initially think to look for it. So there's some of that going on - people were playing with fewer rules in 1e because they didn't even know that there WERE rules for some situations. And that makes it seem like 2nd edition had more rules and therefore is more complex.

    2) 2nd edition eventually grew to be more complex than 1e in a lot of ways - especially on the PC customization end. In 1e a Fighter was a Fighter, a Thief was a Thief, and the most customization you ever had was dealing with what spells your Magic-User was going to have in his spellbook. 2nd edition made PCs a lot more customizable over time - not just adding non-weapon profs into the "core", but all of the kits that sprawled all over the place over the course of the edition's lifetime. And that can make 2nd edition appear more complex from a player's perspective than 1e was. Even though from the DM's perspective the game didn't change all that much from 1e.

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