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Sun, Jun. 8th, 2008, 08:17 pm

I have skimmed the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual and DM's guide. I like what they've done but they've clearly been heavily influenced by World of Warcraft. I'm not sure whether this is for good or ill I cannot say - I've always liked WoW's artistic style and it definitely lends itself to the newer, more heroic tone of the 4th edition style but not every sword needs to be glowing and run encrusted, nor does every axe have to contain a gemmed centerpiece and floating blade sections. All that being said, since D&D is the precursor to damned near all types of fantasy gaming you can't really fault them for ripping off one of their own ripoffs.
Now, for the game itself, it is harder to say and I assume this edition will do what all previous editions have done. There will be a period of confusion where people like me wonder if a relatively simple system needed to be streamlined and simplified some more. There will be a six month stretch where people piss and moan about Wizards of the Coast having the sheer fucking GALL to be a business that needs to make a profit and release a new edition. The obvious period of people complaining that they're being forced to buy new books (particularly ironic given how incredibly broad the official expansions have been, never mind third party supplements meaning that almost every concievable setting and rule has been done twice over) The Open Gaming License advocates will whinge for some time too about how this is going to destroy their business (of mainly providing pointless, shit supplements) but overall this is going to be a success one way or the other.

The basic first impression is that the streamlining of the rules and generally bombastic illustratative style means we're supposed to be playing much more epic games. The system feels a little like the new World of Darkness rule set and this is definitely for the positive, particularly for magic users who are now in a position to be chucking out a lot more spells and contributing to every fight, not just the first tough one of the day. Where previously a lot of D&D games felt like a protracted session of Baldur's Gate where premature use of your Mage's sole fireball would mean the party had to head back to town to rest for eight hours and tended to make them a somewhat useless knifethrower at the back, praying that no one flanked the party, now they can keep on trudging until the bitter end.

Sun, Jun. 8th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)

" Wizards of the Coast having the sheer fucking GALL to be a business that needs to make a profit and release a new edition" LOL

Is it a truism that the older one gets the more right wing and grumpy one becomes :)

Mon, Jun. 9th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)

i picked up the PHB and DMG yesterday, myself. The core system isn't -too- different from what I've seen. I'm a little shakey about the new monstrous PC classes. And the "paragon" is weird. Overall, I sort of see that it's sort of meshing 3E and D20 Modern systems, probably for the better. I *liked* Modern, fwiw, despite some flaws.

The biggest thing I hear about 4E is that it is more "epic" in scope, less concerned with the little details, and Modern was similar in that respect. "Epic" in this case means "not counting every gold piece and running a semi-realistic fantasy simulation" but instead "bashing the crap out of stuff", which I think does take away from the whole D&D experience. It takes it away from really entering a fully-fleshed world and more into, as you say, WoW, which ultimately consists of "run around, min/max some sort of experience/skill points, and trade blows with things til death do us part". I got that same experience in 1990 on dial-up BBS's (tele-arena, anyone? The Pit?) and telnet MUDs. I'm not a MMORPG person these days - feel like I've been there, done that, only without the graphics. At any rate I think "epic" is the wrong word, and tend to learn towards "cinematic" to describe it.

Some of the re-organization is nice. Putting the spells with the class descriptions seems like it might be handy - less flipping back and forth and back and forth.

The DMG looks like it's actually turned just into a "book of advice" that anyone with experience can probably discard. Good advice for some, though. Far less charts than in the past, which is kind of sad, that was sort of the point of the DMG previously. I probably should've saved my money and bought the MM. Which leads me to:

I flipped through the MM, but didn't end up buying it. I'll go back for it later, I think. It seemed nice, many familiar faces, some new art, some old, and a new layout that's easier to read - no more having trouble figuring out where one entry ends and one begins from crappy formatting. Luckily, though, everything should be portable from 3E MM pretty easily, it looks like, which is why I didn't buy it right off.

I don't have a local gaming group, so really I'm just geek-wanking by buying this stuff at all, but I'll end up rolling up some characters just to see how it feels and run through some simulations. I don't like the new reliance on using maps and miniatures, and will be skipping that a bit. If it can't be done on graph paper it shouldn't be done!

Verdict: undecided as of yet...
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Mon, Jun. 9th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)

Sub City has the DMG and MM. They've sold out of the PHB because they "didn't foresee the demand" - despite there being far more players than DMs - but say they'll have it back in tomorrow.

And... that's it. Nowhere else in Dublin to buy them that I know of, now that 4th Dimension is gone. Forbidden Planet are still selling the 3.5 editions on their one shelf of game stuff.