Friday, July 04, 2008

4e: reader response

I got some good comments to the previous post about my 4e run. Today I'm going to respond to one of them. Here's devan:
Don't play the pregen adventures, as they suck. I played one and was wholly underwhelmed. Then, last weekend, I played an adventure my friend made up, and had an enormous blast.

People who say it's more limiting are lacking in imagination. My group was fighting some dwarven soldiers holed up in a barn. There was one blocking the doorway, nearly immovable, fighting the dragonborn paladin. The wizard of our group was doing her best to rid us of the crossbow firing dwarves peeking out of the second floor window. My cowardly, city-rat-kid-turned-conscript rogue was doing his best to appear useful while not taking any heat, until he took a bolt to the shoulder. I built him in the direction of avoidance and mobility, figuring he was never much a fan for fighting fair, more for running away. I used an ability that let me move two squares before an attack, opting to make those two squares vertical. I made the acrobatics check to perch in the window frame upon my moving those two squares, and attacked the dwarf. Next round, after nearly being knocked unconscious and pushed out the window, I scurried in and used an ability that moves an opponent squares = to my Cha mod. Dwarves always move one square less for pushes, but I still got one square out of him; enough to trip him out of the rafters and onto his buddy downstairs, knocking them both unconscious.

So yeah, you can absolutely do fun, creative things with this system, you just have to learn this system. I urge you to play for a while to get in the swing of things before saying "Eh, it's not for me, cause I didn't learn exactly how to play the way I want in two games." It's different, it takes adjusting, and it really is leaps and bounds more fun than previous editions, as no one is sitting around waiting for their turn with nothing to do anymore. There are fun things to do and keep track of on nearly everyone's turn.
I know you are trying to be helpful, dude, so don't take this the wrong way. Do you know how many people have told me "Don't judge the game by the pre-release hype"? This despite the fact that Wizards obviously wanted people to judge the game based on their hype machine. And then a bunch of people said "You can't judge this new D&D by the text alone, you need to play it!" Now you're telling me I have to play several sessions before I judge the game AND that I can't use the adventure Wizard's obviously wants me to use.

Exactly at what point do I stop giving these guys a break? When do I get to trust my own instincts on this one? How many hoops do I have to jump through before I'm allowed to have an opinion? I'm starting to get a little tired of people who lay out prerequisites for me before I'm able to have my say. Again, I'm not trying to call you out, here. I'm just highlighting this annoying trend I see everywhere among 4e boosters.

Your brief play report sounds like a good time and I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from having a good time with any game they are digging. But you and a zillion other gamers liking the system doesn't automatically make it a good fit for me. And like my adventure Wednesday, I don't see much fun stuff that couldn't have happened under a different edition or a different game.

Reader asmodean66 may have put his finger on the problem "I think the main change is that 4e is not a "simulation" of adventuring, like previous editions of D&D, but rather, it is a game about adventuring. The mechanics enforce game balance and playability over real world physics." Now, D&D has never been an exacting simulation of anything, but some of the changes make the game look less like an RPG and more like something else that I don't want or need. People have accused D&D of being a minis game or a video game in RPG drag. To me, it looks a little bit like a Euro style boardgame: an exquisitely balanced abstract game about nothing in particular with a whitewash to give it a little context. In this case the whitewash is "D&D but not the boring old D&D you've loved for 30+ years".

Finally, I'll end this post with S. John Ross offering a little perspective on the situation:
My reaction to 4E is pretty much exactly the same as 3E and it goes like this: If this game didn't have the D&D trademark attached to it, it would pass mostly unnoticed as yet-another-D&D-like-game. Nobody would feel obligated to try it, nobody would feel obligated to give it a chance, nobody would feel any need to have an opinion about it, and it would sink or swim (or, more likely, just sort of coast into a quiet place on the shelves) like everything else.

The most interesting thing about 4E is, IMO, exactly the same as the most interesting thing about 3E: it's another game with the Dungeons & Dragons trademark legally applied to it by those who purchased said trademark.