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If You’re Going To Bash 4E, Do It Properly

posted Monday, June 1st 2009 by Jonathan Drain
Fourth EditionNone of the Above

It’s Monday, and time for you to enjoy my opinion. I’m fed up with the 4E-bashing, for several reasons.

  • It’s been almost a year and still people are complaining about the quality of a game they don’t play.
  • The complaints are usually in vague and relative terms, rather than critical terms that could be used to improve the game or measure its flaws.
  • Some compare the game to something else (WoW, Pokémon, anime), but have neither tried the game nor the something else (and the something else is actually rather good).
  • Some insist that 4E players can’t possibly enjoy the game (however, they have no problem accepting difference in taste in film, videogames or other forms of entertainment).
  • Logic is sometimes optional: “You can’t roleplay, because they took out the craft rules.”
  • Finally, the 4E bashing began before anyone had sampled the rules, since they were to replace an edition most current players enjoyed and were heavily invested in.

If you’re going to wail on D&D4, at least give some solid reasons. Take the following examples:

  • The Player’s Handbook is full of horribly cheesy lines and ridiculous, over-specific fluff.
  • A lot of important D&D tradition is thrown out the window. Spell preparation is gone, there are five alignments instead of nine, the elemental planes are mushed into one mess, driders are a reward instead of a punishment, and any number of other changes that would make a Greyhawk fan feel faint.
  • Miniatures are no longer optional. There are too many movement and area-based abilities to get away without a combat grid, like you could in third edition.
  • The game focuses primarily on combat abilities. Although some roleplayers will find renewed interest in the new combat system, the rest are laboured with learning a new combat system they’ll rarely use.
  • The class system is less flexible. Practically all class abilities gained past level one are 1/day or 1/encounter powers, usually offensive spells or fighting techniques. There are few non-combat or always-on abilities such as Trapsense, Uncanny Dodge, Aura of Courage or barbarian damage reduction.
  • The Player’s Handbook is a jungle. The Character Builder software is almost necessary, since the sections on character generation levelling up are murky.
  • The whole thing is much more tightly balanced. That’s arguably a good thing, but many players complain the game loses some of its character if it’s too safe and sanitized. It’s harder to be proud of a really powerful character.
  • Solo combats should be exciting, but they’re boring. Dragons have so many hit points that you need to wail on them for quite a while, which is potentially quite frustrating; on the other hand, knockout spells like Sleep can make it ridiculously easy.
  • There’s no conversion guide to introduce third edition players to fourth edition.

Feel free to levy your own criticisms on the game, but remember that your input is much more valuable when it’s in concrete, measurable terms.

Comments

  1. Sean

    June 1st, 2009

    I do play 4e, because the rest of the group does – fair enough. I prefer the simulationist approach, and 3e was better, though not ideal. Case in point from Saturday’s game:-

    We are in an abandoned temple of Orcus, and a magical altar is trying to dominate a PC 1/round. The thing somehow has a Reflex of 5, even though it is stationary, and an AC in the twenties, so you might somehow miss the thing with your sword! Damage resistance would have been much more intuitive:-)

    We figure that the paladin’s challenge continues if he is adjacent to the target, he doesn’t have to attack it. So he moves up, “Come and have a go then!” and throws his sword away, so if he is dominated then he is less likely to hit us! Plus, he now has a standard action left, when he uses his second window to increase his Defences by 2:-( Yay, 4e!

    And don’t even get me started on healing surges…

  2. Andy

    June 1st, 2009

    “Some insist that 4E players can’t possibly enjoy the game (however, they have no problem accepting difference in taste in film, videogames or other forms of entertainment).”

    The same attitude often comes from pro-4e folk (usually of the more fanboy-ish variety) as well.

    “Finally, the 4E bashing began before anyone had sampled the rules, since they were to replace an edition most current players enjoyed and were heavily invested in.”

    The “I’m switching all my games over to 4e just as soon as it comes out!” started before anyone had sampled the rules. But for some reason, that was A-OK.

    A lot of people are trying to champion a “just play what you like and shut up” approach, but it seems as though few actually practice this.

  3. Anonymous

    June 1st, 2009

    Andy, are you seriously going to claim that someone being enthusiastic about something new somehow justifies spending a year dragging out the same tired strawmen over and over because “they started it”?

    I just want to browse the 4E section of RPGBloggers without having to scroll past a half-dozen neckbeards complaining about a game they’ve never played. You’d think a year would be more than enough to get the HORROR of not being marketed to out of someone’s system.

  4. greywulf

    June 1st, 2009

    Yep. I think you’ve summed that up pretty well. I’m tired of all those faux complaints too from people who (quite frankly) should know better.

    4e isn’t a perfect system by any means, and I think your list is a good starting point for discussion. My own biggest bugbear is Wizards’ inability to put together a decent index or glossary. Maybe they’re planning to release a 4e Rules Compendium containing just that. I dunno.

    Anyhow. Given a choice between 4e’s quirks and 3e’s prep-time and CR/EL/LA mechanism (among other things), I’ll take 4e any day.

  5. Rob G

    June 1st, 2009

    Mechanics are brilliant, but

    “My bard made a Gelatinious Cube cry so hard it died.” RPG.net

    “Your fighter has gained a level. You are now so good at fighting you’ve forgotten how to hit an enemy really, really hard.” Stupid.

    I have no problem with Healing Surges, however. Hit points are not Health Points, and they never ever have been, ever. People just don’t get it. Never, ever been.

    Because of they way they have designed it, it is a CCC board game. A very simple alteration could solve that. (And that is logical and if you can’t see that I don’t know how effective explaining the fact will help.)

    I’m sick of both sides. I’ve massive gripes and likes, but they make sense.

  6. DarkSchneider

    June 1st, 2009

    4e player piping up to say I find levelling up clearer and simpler in 4 than I ever did in 3, with or without the builder–but maybe it’s just me.

  7. Propagandroid

    June 1st, 2009

    @Greywulf: Why would you need WotC to come up with an index when there’s a perfectly good one already available? ;)

    @Jonathan: I think some purely theoretical jive is alright as long as it’s formulated as an observation rather than a complaint. It’s clear there is an as-yet-undefined problem with 4e in the eyes of a vast number of D&D players, and the end goal should be to put it into words, that won’t happen unless we have the space to talk about it at the gut level as well as the rational/observable.

  8. Michelle

    June 1st, 2009

    I love 4e, just as I loved 3e and 3.5e. But I think WotC has gone down a blind alley with all the conditions, marking, cursing, etc. Tracking what PC or creature has what status and when that status ends turns combat into a mind-bending experience, like trying to solve differential equations while performing simultaneous translation between Pig Latin and Klingon.

  9. Pangalin

    June 1st, 2009

    Propagandroid –

    Why should it be the end goal of anything to put the nebulous grievances of a random group into words? Why is it so important to alert the internet to the particular flaws of THIS game, as opposed to any other? If it’s so terribly important to you to spend your time telling other people they’re doing it wrong, I think you could set your sights a little higher. People were still playing Rolemaster and Rifts last time I checked, the poor misguided fools.

    Seriously, what exactly is the function of this supposed end goal? What does it accomplish? Do you think WotC is going to read your totally-reasonable complaints, apologize for doing all the bad things they did, and rescind the entire 4E product line?

    If you want a goal, contribute to your own game, whatever it may be. Attacking someone else’s game just for the sake of attacking it isn’t a goal — there is no end to it. It’s just a beard crying at another beard that a random company doesn’t care about him, forever.

  10. j_king

    June 1st, 2009

    4e does have flaws, but they’re probably only as superficial as the flaws in any other edition of D&D.

    The core mechanic is still the same as in every other game of D&D. I’ve had excellent role-play scenarios and combats that would rival any other adventure I’ve played in previous editions. The system is quite different on the surface, but no more so than 3 was different than AD&D/2, etc. If you don’t like it, that’s fine but I find it highly unlikely that the thousands of people playing 4e are having a bad time because it is so flawed.

  11. Toord

    June 1st, 2009

    How about the issue of Wizards releasing so many ancillary books that are, IMO, a complete waste of paper (Draconicum and Martial Power, and so on). What about weak adaptations of campaign settings (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, for instance).

    Dunno. I think you are right about some of the issues and the lack of constructive criticism. However, I *think* most players believe WotC isn’t listening.

  12. Jeff Rients

    June 1st, 2009

    “the 4E bashing began before anyone had sampled the rules”

    You make some great points but I have to call shenanigans on this one. If WotC insists on wheeling out the hyperbole engine I reserve the right to react to their razzle dazzle. IMHO all the people who said over and over again “withold judgement until the game comes out” were playing unfair because it was quite obvious that was the opposite of Wizards’ intentions.

  13. Anonymous

    June 1st, 2009

    I was pretty excited about 4e. Then I played it.

    You miss one of the biggest failures of 4e: the game isn’t played in a Euclidiean universe.

    By which I mean that 140 feet can be the same distance as 100 feet, but 120 feet can be closer than 100 feet.

  14. Schlake

    June 1st, 2009

    Ooops, I was so excited to post about non-Euclidean D&D, I forgot to fill in my name stuff just above.

  15. Jeff Rients

    June 1st, 2009

    Schlake, I’m curious: does that bug you when you play chess?

  16. Icosahedrophilia

    June 1st, 2009

    4e has “five alignments instead of nine” … which is still up +2 from the three that D&D started with. Very much of what 4e changes with respect to 3.x has been changed before. Critics who hold 3.5 as the gold standard that defines “real D&D” (not putting JD in that category, note) frustrate me with their lack of historical perspective. When my friends and I played D&D c. 1977-1981, we had to be sure to specify which rules set we were using. Multiple editions coexisted back then. I suppose that since we didn’t have the Internet and were to young to go farther than the Methodist church across town for conventions or shows, we weren’t aware of any “edition wars” between “brown boxers” and “red boxers” and “AD&Dvengers.”

  17. Asmor

    June 1st, 2009

    Miniatures are no longer optional. There are too many movement and area-based abilities to get away without a combat grid, like you could in third edition.

    I really don’t understand this criticism. If you were playing 3rd edition without minis and a mat, you weren’t playing 3rd edition at all. You were playing a game similar to 3rd edition, sure, but attacks of opportunity defined 3rd edition just as much as the forced movement rules define 4th edition.

  18. Rev. Lazaro

    June 1st, 2009

    I think, in the end, the problem is that people don’t treat their rules systems as tool kits, they treat them as canon and law. I have no probs with people who prefer their older editions; I’m still looking forward to Pathfinder and I’m hoping some day to return to 3.5/d20 rules to run some more of my Ptolus and World’s Largest Dungeon settings.

    I think the problem, from both the grumps and “4teens” is that both sides have to justify who is right, and are willing to scream bloody murder while removing their testicles to defend their statement. And it gets stupid, really fast.

    And I’m the asshole who is now combing over his 1E AD&D books to bring some more junk into his 4E game, and nobody is going to stop me.

  19. DBV

    June 1st, 2009

    @Toord:
    Are you actually comparing the amount of supplements in 4e to 3e? 3rd edition did have such “gems” as:
    Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook
    Hero Builder’s Guidebook
    The same Draconomicon that you’ve mentioned.
    A supplement for each power source, before power sources were quantified things.
    A supplement for each group of races.
    A supplement for just about every type of inclement weather…
    and so on.
    I’m sure 4th ed will get there too, but that is a publishing company’s M.O., not something new in 4th edition.

    Also, as it hasn’t come out yet, I’m not really sure how “weak” the Eberron campaign setting is, but I will be glad for the update to the rules. I’d suggest you hold off on judgement until it exists.

    As far as WoTC not listening, I have to agree with you. Wizards is not listening to the fan base from 3rd edition, or previous editions. They are marketing to an entirely new group.

  20. Toord

    June 1st, 2009

    @DBV

    “Also, as it hasn’t come out yet, I’m not really sure how “weak” the Eberron campaign setting is, but I will be glad for the update to the rules. I’d suggest you hold off on judgement until it exists.”

    Woops. Yes. Absolutely BS of me to be so prejudicial. However, the FR guide for 4e has been out for a while and having read it (and a few of my friends as well) the opinion was rather lukewarm. Even though I’m a fan of Keith Baker, I can already see several problems that could be “adapted” (i.e. knee jerk style) to fit the 4e rule set: most noticeably the PC races of Eberron.

  21. Propagandroid

    June 1st, 2009

    @Pangalin: You’ve completely missed the point. I enjoy game design, and 4e presents us an amazing opportunity to analyze both what makes D&D and what makes a roleplaying game. I don’t care what game people play. If you’re not interested in the discussion, then why are you involving yourself in it?

  22. Strohz

    June 1st, 2009

    Perspective of the 35+ gamers 4th edition killed Gary and Dave. There is nothing left of the games founding fathers in Dungeons and Dragons other than the name.

    I learned to play at age 8 in 1980 and paid for my first basic set with my allowence. The current system could not be played by an 8yo nor could one afford it using his/her allowance.

    I do find it odd that my $8.95 Fiend Folio from the early 80′s has help up better than any book published since. Why can’t Wizards publish an acual ruleook in black and white with a nifty cover and good binding. The 4th ed books could be published much cheaper without the excesive color artwork.

    We were most alienated by the lack of psionics/ki power, why would you expand the core rules power sorces arcane/martial/divine before introducing other powersources which are popular parts of core campaign settings. Last time I checked there is still no release date for psionics.

    I do think the 4th Ed d20 will be worthwhile. he structured class system, encounter and daily action systems will work better than the 3d modern system.

  23. Strohz

    June 1st, 2009

    Last paragraph was supposed to read.

    I do think the 4th Ed d20 Mondern/Future will be worthwhile. The structured class system, encounter and daily action systems will work better than the 3d modern system.

  24. xerosided

    June 1st, 2009

    @strohz: “The current system could not be played by an 8yo nor could one afford it using his/her allowance.”

    When every other 3E neo-grognard is complaining about how “oversimplified” 4E is, how can you possibly make that conclusion and then share it while maintaining a straight face? Also, my 4th Edition PHB cost about half what my 3rd Edition PHB did, and last time I checked the optional splat books are still optional. Those are some pretty ludicrous arguments there.

    My twelve-year old sister has been a part of my D&D group for going on three years now. While her preference has always been skewed heavily toward free-form role playing as opposed to combat and mechanics, I find it has been monumentally easier to keep her engaged during combat encounters with 4E than it ever was with 3E. Before, “what can I do?” meant she was having a hard time parsing her character sheet for feasible options. Now, “what can I do?” means she forgot to mark which of her daily and encounter powers she has expended so far. In addition, her contribution to the role playing has improved substantially because her character’s non-combat traits are no longer as restrictively quantified as they were in 3E.

  25. Doc Ryder

    June 1st, 2009

    @Strohz

    Pal, you don’t speak for all the oldsters. I’m 46 years old, and my opinion is that there is plenty of Arneson in the new edition (and the less Gygax, the better). You just don’t see the influence of the creators because you don’t want to see it. There was plenty of SUCK in the earlier editions. I know, I played them. I started in 1979, with some guys in high school who played a mash up of White Box and First Ed that was insane.

    Your memories are colored by youth. Those books weren’t that great. I hated a lot of the stuff you could find in the various editions, like the hit location charts from the white box and its supplements that allowed a 1 hit die caveman to kill a 10th level fighter (happened to me). How about this one: Is a paladin a fighter subclass or a cavalier subclass? Did we really need a different, new core class because a cavalier rides a horse? And what’s the point of the darned horse when you can’t take it into the eponymous “Dungeon”? With the First Ed Unearthed Arcana, Gygax redefined the two classes needlessly.

    If you read stuff in which Gygax actually wrote in opinions on Psionics, I believe you’ll find he didn’t want to add them, but did under duress (essentially). They were an ugly, overcomplicated rules system that created all sorts of havoc, and usually none of it anything PCs or DMs were happy with. In Second Ed, they were in a completely separate book that you had to buy to play Dark Sun, so the profiteering machine was already well oiled, even then. And let’s not get into how absolutely insane the grappling and other weaponless combat rules were!

    And comparing the price of books then to prices now is pointless. You can’t hardly get a paperback for $8.99 nowadays that isn’t a Harlequin romance. The D&D hardback books printed after ’82 often fell apart before you got them home, or they had pages upon pages of boring drivel as Gygax justified some of the crazy rules he’d written (instant kills that do nothing to move a story along, for example) without a single piece of artwork for pages and pages. I find the art in newer books, whether black and white or color, makes whatever I’m reading more enjoyable and less like a boring textbook, like so many Second Ed books were. You might find art a waste, but you’re in the minority. As well, kids drop as much on the video games as D&D books cost, and you know that $50 they pay for those Wii games come from Mom and Dad, just like your allowance came to you.

    Ultimately, what you’ve discussed is more of what Jonathan’s talking about: you aren’t backing your criticism with substance. The only specifics you mention are price and sacred cows (psionics). Your price argument lives in the past, when competition was slim and TSR marketing was uninformed, and sacred cows are just that: stuff to be sacrificed. Are the mechanics of the game sound? Can house rules patch the holes? Does your DM have the imagination to do so? (It seems very few do any more, if the arguments I’ve had are any example.)

    BTW: Psionics may not have an exact release date, but they’ll be in PHB III (sometime in 2010). Also, as part of Insider, you’ll be able to use parts of PHB III and other upcoming releases before the release date, as the “previews” that will start coming available soon will be finished work, not playtests or teasers, as stated today on WotC’s site in Bill Slavicsek’s editorial.

  26. Donny_the_DM

    June 1st, 2009

    Gawd this shit has gotten old.

    In fact, we are at the life support with tubes in all orifices old category here.

    Most oldsters refuse to play newer editions. They don’t smell like uncle gary’s fat, hairy, belly, so they are to be shunned.

    Most newbies would look at the laughable production values (and awful rules) and wonder why anuone would choose it over girls.

    We are a large community dwelling in glass houses of our own design hurling rocks at each other. Can you say “mutually Assured Destruction?”

    Let’s keep it up, and then when new folks come to the hobby, they can witness the epic stooge-fight that never ends. Think they’ll stay? Not if they are the types we WANT in the hobby, right?

  27. Propagandroid

    June 1st, 2009

    Hey Donny, I’d rather watch a slapfight than have to delete 15 feeds all reporting the same minor bit of news. :)

    There are interesting bits to be gleaned from comparing 4e to previous editions, but like in all conversations you have to weed out the noise to get to the good parts. I agree that it would be better if everyone wasn’t so goddamn defensive.

  28. ArkZ

    June 2nd, 2009

    i am one of those 4th edition bashers.. never gave it a chance, even told wizard the summer before 4th came out not to release it yet

    but you know what hell i’ll give it a chance just not sure if the rest of the guys i play with will

  29. Meltivore

    June 2nd, 2009

    I was willing to evolve with the game up to a point (that being 3.5E).

    Since it lost its Tolkienesque vibe in 4E, (w/core race changes, fighter powers, etc.) they lost me, possibly for good. But who knows what the future will hold, maybe I’ll be back for 5E.

  30. Tetsubo

    June 2nd, 2009

    After some long and hard thought I have come to the conclusion that I can not rationally discuss 4E. I didn’t buy it and WotC has lost me as a consumer of D&D.

    Thankfully we still have the SRD and the OGL.

  31. Brandon

    June 2nd, 2009

    Why not just ignore the 4E bashing? It seems really easy to skip/not-read anti-4E posts/blogs. I quickly change the subject when my gaming friends try to bash 4E.

    BTW, calling people that don’t like 4E oldsters, isn’t a great way to win converts.

    Oh and if you like 4E, you don’t have to show it by bashing previous editions. It just inflames the edition wars more. Take the high road.

    I’m getting this sort of martyr complex vibe from 4E bloggers which I just don’t understand. Every new edition of D&D has had its detractors. 4E isn’t any different in that regard.

  32. Saracenus

    June 2nd, 2009

    Brandon,

    It gets hard to ignore when every thread you start/participate that involves 4e gets threadcrapped by anti-4e folks.

    On mail lists I run I have banned edition wars and will terminate with extreme prejudice anyone (from any side) that brings this crap to my neck of the woods.

    I have lost patience with folks that can’t walk away and play the damn game they want to play.

    If you are not having fun, find something that is. However, if your fun is sucking the joy out of gaming for others… stop it, you are part of the problem.

  33. Andreas Davour

    June 2nd, 2009

    Spot on. I really like your title!

  34. Brandon

    June 2nd, 2009

    @Saracenus

    Believe me I understand. I’m just making an effort not to read edition war threads/blogs and certainly not respond to them. Luckily I spend most of my time on EN World so it’s not too hard.

    I have seen 4Eers dogpile 3E/PF threads so it’s not all one sided. Start a PF thread on RPG.net and see how it ends up or check out the ‘Points of Light’ review of Pathfinder where Paizo didn’t make changes ‘out of spite’ or ‘because Erik Mona loves casters’.

    I guess where I’m coming from, 4E seems to be immensely popular. It’s the biggest tabletop RPG out there and I don’t know what’s number 2, but it’s probably not even close to 4E in popularity. I’m not going to worry about people that don’t like 4E, they seem to be in the minority. I’m not even going to worry about people not liking older editions honestly. Different strokes. I’d pretty much play any edition of D&D with my group and know I’ll have fun.

  35. Toord

    June 3rd, 2009

    All,

    Agree or disagree with the flame war of 3.x vs. 4e the fact is that it IS a very heated debate. I see both PROs and CONs of both editions. I, personally, prefer 3.5, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to listen to arguments made for migrating to 4e. I don’t think the argument should be who’s right and who’s wrong. The argument should focus on what your players (if you’re a DM) want and how you like to DM (your rules, pet peeves and so on).

    D&D it’s about having a good time with a close-knit group of people and if that group of people prefer certain version of the game then why force the issue?

    Peace.

  36. » Chatty on 4e: One year later

    June 10th, 2009

    [...] like many bloggers who play 4e have said, I don’t believe that the game is without flaws. In fact, once the sense of novelty died down, I found myself on the fence about some key elements [...]

  37. xerosided

    June 10th, 2009

    @Brandon I’m all for ignoring, but sometimes it’s hard or even impossible. Aside from the meaningless back and forth, there are also occasionally real repercussions to edition preference. For instance, if your favorite developer announced they were exclusively supporting the edition you don’t use, you might understandably feel alienated, especially if you are/were an active part of that developer’s customer base and community.

    My guess is that specific example is probably responsible for half of the resentment on either side of this debate.

  38. Dragon Slayer #24: Revista ou Informe Publicitário??? - PARAGONS

    June 26th, 2009

    [...] Se é para reclamar da 4e faça direito [...]

  39. Consumer Unit 5012

    June 26th, 2009

    I am reluctant to utter heresy here but…

    …There _are_ RPGs besides Dungeons and Dragons and its variants.

  40. Athena Hollow

    June 27th, 2009

    This same exact fight happened when 3e came out. I remember my dm throwing a conniption fit when one of our players mentioned “upgrading” from 2nd ed D&D.

    My big issue is that I have spent the better part of a small fortune on books, etc for 3.0 then 3.5, I just can’t fathom paying the same amount for 4e, especially when I can’t even get my players to learn a new system as simple as GURPS because of the work it entails.

    SO, in short, I’m skipping 4e and will probably just move to VTM or something when I want to play something other than 3.5.

  41. Clive

    June 28th, 2009

    I have no interest in bashing one set of rules over another. Why bother? Just stick with your preferred edition. Besides, WotC, actually Hasbro, is a business, and just like any business is concerned primarily with profits and increasing value for its shareholders. Yelling at Hasbro is like yelling at the ocean – a feckless activity.

    I can intellectually appreciate the dilemma that a company like Hasbro must face as time goes on and the inevitabilities of market saturation begin to erode revenues and profits. Since Hasbro exists mainly to increase value for its shareholders there should be no surprise that it would use “planned obsolescence” to cyclically restore revenue streams.

    In theory, a new version of the rules is rolled out that “improves” the gaming experience for the customer. This has the beneficial side effect (for the company at least) of obsoleting the previous edition – and creating a new source of revenue – a whole new set of manuals, subscriptions, etc. No different from software, consumer electronics, cars, etc.

    Unfortunately, there is a trade-off with this approach because the company risks alienating its existing customer base who have usually invested heavily in the previous edition and aren’t happy at all about having to learn a new system, pay for new rule books and so on.

    I said I appreciate this on an intellectual level, but as a gamer, someone who just wants to enjoy a hobby, the financial woes of a vast conglomerate like Hasbro mean nothing to me. I just want to play a good game.

    This is where a curious aspect of RPGs come into play – once you’ve got access to the core rules and are able to play a bit, you eventually develop the confidence and expertise to basically expand upon the rules & content yourself. You really don’t need to buy anything more after that (unless you’re feeling lazy a bit lazy, or maybe you need a bit of inspiration).

    I started playing RPGs just about 30 years ago, when they were still relatively new. I mainly played using AD&D rules, but after the first few years, much of the “content” of our campaigns was self-developed, not purchased. House rules grew up around the AD&D rules, either to correct for TSR flaws, or to expand into areas that we were interested in. We all still look back on those gaming days fondly.

    After about a 15 year hiatus, I’ve come back to RPGs and decided to try 3.5E. This is not necessarily because I think 3.5E is any better than 1E (I still have all my 1E books), but because I figured very few people would be playing 1E at this point.

    I paid for the 3.5E core rules and a few supplements and have started a new group, but expect to, as I did in the past, develop much of my own content as time goes on.

    Frankly, I probably could have just used the D20 SRD and spent very little. But laziness is a factor …

    So basically, given that RPGs allow for so much freedom to create and modify, I don’t really see why anyone would bother complaining about this edition vs. that edition.

  42. JimTOdd

    July 1st, 2009

    When 3.0 came out, I adamantly refused to play it and hated everything about it…about four months went by, and I bought one book just to try it…by around 8 months after it launched, I was convinced fully to switch. With 4e…it’s been around a while, and maybe at some point I will shift, but right now I have not even those initial temptations I had with 2 to 3.0. Doesn’t mean 4th isn’t a good game, just not one I’m interested in. And since I have indeed played 4th ONCE, and read through the books, I could cite tons of reasons, but why? Why would anyone care why I don’t like 4e, and why would I care why anyone does? But don’t slam my game just to somehow try to increase the stature of yours.

  43. Doom

    July 12th, 2009

    You’ve left out the key issue: the fraud of calling the 4.0 game Dungeons and Dragons.

    4.0 has essentially nothing in common with previous Dungeons and Dragons games, that could not equally be said for WFRP, GURPS, or half a dozen other RPGs.

    If they’d just given the game an original name, rather than glue Dungeons and Dragons words onto non-Dungeons and Dragons concepts (eg, the “Sleep” spell of DnD4.0 doesn’t put things to sleep, among dozens of examples), much of the arguments would be meaningless.

    After all, nobody says “WFRP sucks, since the developers push well-painted miniatres, and you didn’t see that in Tunnels and Trolls” (incidentally, another RPG that has more in common with D&D than 4.0).

  44. Drew

    July 29th, 2009

    While I am by no means a 4e fan, I do get really sick of the “it’s not D&D any more” or it “breaks with D&D tradition” crap. For starters a lot of the examples that get thrown around (the core books didn’t have barbarians, gnomes, 9 alignments, or half-orcs, so it isn’t D&D) apply to ADVANCED Dungeons & Dragons, NOT D&D (which never had any of those things. If you want to say it breaks with AD&D tradition, fine, say it. But a lot of what is in 4e is reminiscent of D&D (Holmes only had five alignments, the original and subsequent editions had three). The fact is that AD&D 2nd edition, 3rd edition, and yes, 4th are all radically different from the original game, so it strikes me as a tad hypocritical to nail 4e to the wall all by itself. 3rd edition, with a unified dice mechanic, unified advancement tables, etc, was also a big break with previous versions. Hell, AD&D 1st edition broke with the original in many ways. Every edition makes changes. Get over it people, or play something else.

  45. Dave D.

    August 3rd, 2009

    I dont hate 4E. Im just not
    not chucking 2000 dollars worth of 3.5 magazines, programs, manuals and adventures for the hack job that is 4E that deliberately makes 3.5 non-oompatible. For that reason alone I dont like the mechanics. In this recession its simple economics. I dont have the money to do this again.

    Even before 3/3.5 I realized the game was getting too stat-block heavy. Im beginning to think Id be happier going back to 1e or ad&d – much easier to run as a dm (prob more so than 3.5 even). So thats probably what i will do. Im going to go with hackmaster, castles and crusades or a freeware 1e clone like labyrinth lord with my own home-brew house rules. Sure the earlier rule systems had holes, but the dm had far more control because the rules were loose/simplified. Ill also be able to use my own long-term house rules for 1e/adnd. Ill also be able to use a ton of old 1e material that most new gamers havent even seen or been through.

    Ill survive. Theres always warcraft lol if i cant get a group together.

  46. Tim.

    October 2nd, 2009

    Here is a rant i posted on the wizards over a year ago.
    http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19750786/Release_of_4e_PDFs_Wheres_mine&post_num=31#336304786

    What has changed?

  47. Grackle

    October 4th, 2009

    It isn’t D&D. There are plenty of games without that name on the cover that are more D&D than 4E. It is, as Doom says, a fraud. A pretender to the D&D throne.

    WOTC got arrogant and went too far, indulging in their hobby horses and imposing personal design ideologies under a banner they don’t deserve. And it’s a name they’ve now tarnished. History won’t judge this “edition” kindly.

  48. David Devine

    May 31st, 2010

    I preordered 4th edition books because I’d heard some really great news, but unfortunately not all of it was true, and my hope, a refinement of 3.5, was not what they had in mind.

    As another has pointed out, to make 4E profitable, they had to make it incompatible with 3.5E, lest all of the previous manuals, guides, etc. could be easily transported over, not giving them a chance to go back and do the whole thing over again … it’s like a reboot of a series, where you can revisit the same story lines by saying “Well this is the first time through as far as the characters know.”

    I like some aspects of 4E, like the way they compressed the skills down, and that non-casters now have limited resources just like casters do. In the end, 3.5E had a kind of internal consistency, it was more of a game system with story elements tacked on.

    Overall, the epic scale that 3.5E offers is better for me, as whenever I read through my 4E manuals, I feel like someone looked at the 7-13 level range, and then stretched it out to 30 levels. Everything feels so limited and small.

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