There are very few Innmates here at our home away from home that are multi-lingual in terms of D&D editions. The vast majority is familiar and well-versed in 3.5 edition rules. Perhaps because this was the hot edition when web 2.0 really came into being and thus was the most widespread, or perhaps because it really is a superior system. I don't know nor particularly care. I've been playing 3rd edition (and 3.5) since it debuted and have always enjoyed it. What really bothers me is when gamers trash 4th edition without even having played it.
I will be honest, 4th edition is not for everyone. the games are must faster paced and more strategic in nature. The old cliche of 4e being a wargame rather than an RPG is based in truth to some degree. It is an encounter-based system unlike the previous styles. Battles rely more on tactical knowledge and teamwork. Gone are the days of the party wizard winning fights, or the party fighter having to buy millions in magic items to keep up. That does mean though, that you pretty much need a party of 3 and no more than 6 with 5 being ideal. Classes have clearly defined roles and races are more obviously slanted towards certain stereotypes. In 3.5 you had to work to munchkinize your characters - in 4e much of the work is built in to the system. That doesn't mean that a min-maxer (which I freely admit to being) won't be able to tweak and play and get something better, it just means that the average player won't be outclassed. We all know the scenario where one player spends a week creating an ultimate destroying-everything-with-magic character and another shows up with a pre-made basic fighter taking 5 levels of toughness... in 4e the fighter will still be able to keep pace because he has a set role (defender/tank) in the party that no wizard (controller/striker) will ever be able to fill.
So while in 4e min-maxing makes you better at your role, it doesn't make you into a one-character-army like it could in 3.5.
There are accusations that 4e is not friendly to role-players and only roll-players. That is simply false. Battles might be the focus in 4e, but there are also new things called skill challenges. These non-combat encounters rely on players making alternating skill checks to reach a goal - often a chase scene, negotiation, search party, or whatever. I have used them for just about everything and can attest that they force the players to think. You can't just "pass" in a skill challenge, and if your character isn't any good at the key skills then you have to invent new ways to use old skills. During an urban chase I put my players through, one in which the primary skills were athletics, endurance, and acrobatics, the physically unfit warlock fell behind the group, and without any other options decided to head to the police and use bluff to make a false crime accusation against the target of their chase. The police bought it and assisted in the search.
But even without skill challenges, there are very few rules regarding non-combat situations. They are literally wide open to DM interpretation as to what flies in a role-play scenario. So while the rules are more structured and detailed in regards to combat and encounters, they are still as wide open to roleplaying as past editions. One can still find players on MMORPGs roleplaying their characters to the fullest extent, and those players will also be able to flourish in D&D 4th edition.
I am unsure how 4e will run online. I think it will turn out impossible to run over forums, simply due to the sensitive nature of combat. One typically must know what the others are doing in real-time to be able to succeed. I am predicting that 4e games here at the Inn and elsewhere on forums will have to be in a weekly or bi-weekly chat session. I am flirting with that idea now converting my current forum game to chat format.
To my knowledge we have only three DMs that regularly run in second edition, and only a handful more players that do. That is a shame, because 2e is IMHO the superior system for role-play intense forum gaming. 3.5 is better for action-oriented games, and I believe 4e will emerge as the dominant style for chatroom gaming.
So I am taking it upon myself to bring 4e to the Innmates here. I would like announce the 4e Audalis Translation Project! I have already translated one race, an artifact, and a prestige class (into a paragon path), and I'm working on the others. I'd like to get one or two more races done as well as a basic how-to on making the move to 4th edition before I post the project to the Audalis page, but look for it in the near future. I hope that familiar material seen through a new light will inspire those reluctant to venture into 4th edition to give it a chance. Or at least read the core books. Ask any serious World of Darkness player - It never hurts to be multi-lingual when it comes to new material!
posted by Admiral on 2/20/2020 at 07:08:48 PM
4e dominating chat is all well and good but I need a forum, play-by-post, game. I don't have a regular week so am unable to say 'Yes, I can be on chat at X time', this fact aside, I live in the UK and use GMT so play by chat isn't an option.
I'm not putting down 4e (I've been guilty in the past) but I simply can't play 4e due to lack of people to play with.
PS: I'm all up for a 2e game but don't have the time to learn a new system!
posted by Loki on 12/09/2009 at 04:53:47 PM
Yes... Another advocate who would declare 2e to be the supreme Role-playing system. Mix-maxing characters into munchkins was EXTREMELY hard. It took guts to build a hero. A character wasn't automatically hero-grade due to his class.
posted by Tek on 12/09/2009 at 08:08:23 PM
I'm going to have to agree with Loki, play by chat just really doesn't work for me. Play by post is much better for me since I have a child, need to find a job, and have other stresses in my life that would keep me from a chat game. Not to mention my internet connection is so flaky I'd probably get booted out of chat regularly.
posted by Shield Wolf on 12/09/2009 at 11:10:30 PM
I have to agree with admiral. 4e would run best on chat. We play 4e at my table top games, but I play 3.5 here. I can't join in the chat's either, for some reason my computer is firmly against it, so I will simply opt out.
I would enjoy dipping into WOD, though.
posted by Bezmir on 12/09/2009 at 11:25:19 PM
Guys don't get too hung up on the chat thing. Just a musing. The Point is to try 4e, whether online or at home.
posted by Admiral on 12/10/2009 at 03:00:45 AM
Great article Bob. I'd like to think that I haven't put down 4e out of malice, just out of association with the company that makes it (Accountants of the Coast).
Kudos to you for working on the translations. That is a tough job, with a boat load of work and an equal boatload of critics. I appreciate your efforts. I hate to think that all our gaming articles will become a three fold list (2e/3e/4e version).
I have been thinking that forum based games need their own rule system, something vastly simplified because 90% of the action is controlled by the DM/GM. Not that I have time to start that project...
I'm 2e all the way and hope to start a new on-line campaign in January. Going into withdrawal here.
posted by Alacrity on 12/10/2009 at 07:57:34 AM
Wow, am I out of touch! Didn't even realize there was a 4th ed. I am a pretty staunch 2ed gamer. I have treid 3rd ed but found it too tedious with the multiple feats and such. Perhaps as a tabletop game it would be better. For me role play is the reason I game and for that it is hard to beat 2ed. There are fewer and fewer of us holdouts still around but we are persistant if nothing else.
I care not what edition you play; it is enough that you play.
posted by Keeper of Dragons on 12/10/2009 at 09:12:16 AM
I do like a good game of WoD. Might get something started after the holidays even.
A friend of mine called me a system-whore, because I like trying new gaming systems. I admit though, I have never been specifically enthusiastic about trying 4e. Sure, stories about it being a table-top video-game munchkin-heaven has had its influence on my lack of interest, but originally it was because I was really unhappy with the change after 3e and 3.5 only got such a short period to shine. In fact, I speculate that 5e will be out within years. Munchkinism helped.
I admit though, after reading this entry, I am intrigued. I don't think I will buy the books and get started right away, but I will ask a friend to either get a game together or loan me her books so I can.
Curse you, Bob, for getting me excited on a new system when I still haven't tried two or three!
(Also, I hated that 4e advertisement: "It's the same game!" If it's the same game, why the new edition?!)
posted by Skari-dono on 12/10/2009 at 12:29:13 PM
Having gotten a copy of the 4e players handbook, I submit, 4e looks great fun to play. Looking through the book and creating a character I agree with it more then 3e.
Anyone in the GMT timezone want to join me in a chat game? :)
posted by Loki on 12/10/2009 at 02:42:28 PM
My two cents:
If you read my last blog (yes I'm shameless and plugging my own blog here)you'll know that I started on 3.5, and have only played 3e and 2e here. I have had a chance to play in a few 4e games. My group of tabletoppers (makes them sound like flower decorations, which makes me smile) keeps going back to 3.5 but I think that might be because they enjoy the munchkin-foot-work. I have not noticed much difference in the role play of 4e vs. 3.5 on the table.
Which to me suggests that the role play ability of a game is really dependant not on the system but on the people playing it.
The people playing 4e are going to primarily be people my age and younger, people who grew up on video games... and perhaps that is the reason for the put downs of 4e. Not that the system itself is stunted... but that the majority of those playing it have stunted imaginations.
Hmmm... did I go too far there?
posted by Merideth on 12/10/2009 at 03:06:24 PM
My problem with 4e is a simple one, lack of money. I spent a small fortune on my 3.x collection (over 40 books) and I'm not exactly ready to spend another fortune on a whole new set of books, especially when I can't find local games anyway. I'd say counting all my rule books, sheets, supplements, dice, figures, etc I've spent over $2000 on 3.x, so switching to 4e seems pointless to me. I have next to nothing against the system itself, just the money it would cost me.
posted by Shield Wolf on 12/10/2009 at 11:28:14 PM
SW I share your complaint. I have always thought that the core books (and maybe a few more like PHB 2 or something) should cost and then wizards should publish the rest as low-cost downloadable content. Or paperback.
posted by Admiral on 12/11/2009 at 01:24:24 AM
2e best e.
posted by Grugg on 12/11/2009 at 05:07:02 AM
So I have a question. If Wizards can't be tanks or what not are you saying that a party of Wizards is most likely screwed in 4e? I've been following your game in the forums because I was interested in the differences between 2e 3.5e and 4e. The skill encounters are entertaining but I feel the other two editions run them better since they don't force the encounter but instead allow a naive party to remain lost. I like the idea of strategizing a combat encounter but I don't like the idea of doing it out of character which from reading your q/a thread and game thread seems to be what 4e combat does to work best. The chaos of an ambush is a delight to many DM's but if the players are discusing their responses before reacting it changes the scene from an ambush to almost a fortified position. A current I like my 3.5 because I know all of its selections, though I admit I am intrigued to know why Grugg prefers 2e.
posted by Ion Kired on 12/12/2009 at 10:52:04 PM
Well, in short yes a party of wizards would be screwed, unless the DM takes time to make it do-able. I suppose a party of wizards would work, but it would be difficult and a bit boring at lower levels. It would be a challenge for everyone involved. As to my game I seem to have lost three players, so I'm probably going to reopen it as a chatroom game and try it that way.
For skill challenges, my group all rolled very well, so you can't really use that as an example. If they failed even one check they would have found themselves more lost and it would have been tougher to recoup.
And ambushes might run differently, but I've run several and you can *always* catch players off-guard.
As to Grugg... well, he's Grugg.
posted by Admiral on 12/14/2009 at 05:09:31 PM
Ion: I think you're going to find a lot of players who prefer 2nd edition to the others for a variety of reasons; it's been around for a long time and was definitely the system that a little of people grew up on. My earliest games were most definitely played in 2nd edition (excepting of course the one original d&d campaign I attempted to run when I was 6 years old... yeah... we more just kind of acted everything out and threw the dice around).
I was enchanted by 3rd edition went it first came out because I was still young enough to be frustrated with 2nd edition and all of its complexities and intricacies. 3rd edition was quickly grasped and allowed more powerful characters at lower levels. However, I have since become more and more appreciative of 2nd edition. I enjoy the character creation and gaming process more in a lot of ways because it seems less roll heavy. Its easy to get entangled in setting up your character as the biggest possible tank in 3rd edition which lends itself, then, to campaigns oriented, primarily, towards combat. This is not across the board with 3rd edition just my personal experience with my past attempts to run games or play in games of the rule system.
Now, as this site is my only gaming outlet, I have been allowed to return to 2nd edition games, something impossible in the small group of friends who once gamed together. I wouldn't want to have one exclusively but I'm very happy that the inn is a context where I can get my 2nd edition fix. Perhaps the rules are less malleable (something I appreciate about DMing in 3rd edition) but they are more realistic and cater to a game focussed primarily on the role-playing as opposed to the roll-playing.
However that had nothing to do with the blog...
Admiral: I very much enjoyed your blog and it built up a lot of interest of the game inside me. I had always imagined it as being a simple shifting around of rules as a cash grab so I find it very intriguing to hear that it is almost a completely unique system. Though, like others have attested to, I don't have the money or the context to play any 4th edition games, I have a lot of curiosity about it now, as generated by the blog. So thanks for sharing Admiral and I'll keep my eyes open for fourth edition from here on in.
posted by Dragonblood on 12/15/2009 at 11:11:06 AM
Good article, Admiral. I have to admit that I am not a fan of any of the D&D rules, but rather pieces of them. Personally, I think that true role-players can role-play in any system. However, systems designed specifically around munchkin-play, combat-oriented (which let's be honest; these games are truly combat-oriented to begin with), or so numbercentric gravitate players of that ilk to them. This is why I spent the better part of two years borrowing parts of systems I thought brilliant and merging them into a new system. This plays right into what you're saying though: being multi-system-lingual is the only way to truly earn the right to transgress into the realm of critics. Not to mention that if players and GMs were to spit in the faces of game companies, the game companies would eventually fade away for lack of profit, and then where would we be? Watching television and going to movies wishing we could partake of a little adventure ourselves?
posted by Bromern Sal on 1/06/2010 at 02:31:20 PM
I'm old enough to have played every edition of D&D, from the white box on down. I agree, 4th ed. is not for everyone, but I don't begrudge people their enjoyment of it. Personally, I have branched over to the Pathfinder system for my fantasy role-playing needs; it is the game I most enjoy DMing and playing. But I still play the occasional 4th ed game, mostly at D&D Game Days or when we want a quick evening's entertainment. There is no denying that, when all you want to do is spread arounf copious amounts of whoop-ass in a short time with your friends, 4th ed. makes a good choice!
posted by Argentbear on 1/09/2010 at 10:26:29 AM
my post on this matter is gamers are gamers no matter what they play table top console mmorpg fps chat based/post by post its all the same in one aspect and that is the person playing is enjoying the experience its the code i play 4e about once a week and love it its where i fell when the computer failed to give me the freedom i sought but that said i am always up for trying new things(or old ^_^)so while i spend my days here at the inn i will also be learning 1eD&D and up (as a player) and continuing to be an avid fan and dm for 4e aswell
did i ramble errrm i'll read it when i post it
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