Why People Hate Fourth Edition

I think I’ve worked it out. D&D4 is New Star Wars.

Sure, it lacks the feel of the 1970s classic, changes the implied setting, ignores decades of established pseudo-canon, changes the foundation of how people’s supernatural powers work and is full of cheesy lines… but the fantasy swords-and-magic action is much better, and wasn’t that the point all along?

Comments (57)

erratic_prophet (August 14th, 2008)

I think you’re onto something.

Geek Gazette (August 14th, 2008)

In my case I really like 4e. My problem is all the other crap WotC has done wrong. Especially the poor way that they have handled the release of what should have been a game every D&D fan was excited about. Instead they caused bad feelings and resentment. Sure there would have been a little of that from people who simply like to gripe about change of any kind, but this time the brought a lot of it on themselves.
As for the game… I like it and intend to keep playing. While I will support the actual game, I don’t think I will get behind some of the other stuff they have in store.

Geek Gazette (August 14th, 2008)

BTW I am a supporter of the changing the setting aspect. I felt that everything had become too overwhelming, especially for newer players. I honestly avoided the Realms because it was just too big, there was too much back story. So I am eager to see the revamped FR setting. Though I am still a bit ticked off about Maztica being destroyed… that was just wrong.

Ravyn (August 14th, 2008)

About half the people I know who hate Fourth Edition do so because of the way the people around them tend to foist it on them, at least as much as the mechanics…

You may have a point in the difference between the two. Of course, there’s the next question: Where does that leave the people who were looking for stuff that wasn’t “better” swords and magic action? Or at least magic items with a little bit of flavor behind them and not just Orbs of Being Bigger Than The Same Orb Five Levels Ago?

Jer (August 14th, 2008)

I don’t know - 4e doesn’t have anything nearly as racist as Jar-Jar Binks or the Trade Federation guys.

And 4e doesn’t have an utterly terrible romantic subplot between two characters whose actors have no chemistry with a setup that is totally unbelievable.

And it doesn’t have 1000% more “Boba Fett” than the original.

And there isn’t anything nearly as stupid as Darth Vader being the creator of C3P0.

Nope - I’m not seeing it. 4e doesn’t have any of the stuff that made New Star Wars horrible to me at all.

But then, I like 4e quite a bit.

Erendrake (August 14th, 2008)

I really like the speed of 4th edition. My biggest reservation was moving from a system that had a TON of material to pick from to one that is brand new with only the lonely PHB to give you options. my group is running 4th and loving it and i think that in the coming months with more source coming out it will make a big difference.

"GRRRR change is bad!!!" isnt good enough reason to hate something. esp a game

Rekres (August 14th, 2008)

PEOPLE don’t hate 4E D&D. *YOU* may hate it, but people do not. If everyone hated 4th Ed, then there wouldn’t be such a waiting list for the two 4E campaigns being run at out FLGS.

Palm (August 14th, 2008)

Well, people don’t hate the new starwars movies ether, just a small group of starwars fans does.

CountBuggula (August 14th, 2008)

Not everyone likes 4th edition, either. If everyone liked 4th edition, there wouldn’t be a need (or market) for the Pathfinder RPG.

Plotter (August 14th, 2008)

People may think they hate 4th edition, but if so they’re misdirecting their anger.

D&D 4th is just another game that you can buy or not buy. If Green Ronin published a game I didn’t like (they haven’t yet!) - I wouldn’t buy it. There’s no emotional involvement.

The true cause of any emotion here is that with the introduction of 4th, comes the end of WotC’s support of the great product line that was D&D 3.X. To me that’s a little bit sad.

Donny_the_DM (August 14th, 2008)

Careful! No flame wars! Both editions suck equally. For different reasons. Those particular reasons are what define the issue.

Personally, I’ll die before tossing my older editions. 4E isn’t a mature system by any stretch of the imagination. There are too few products, a big missing hole in the core classes, and the THUD of errata (loads and loads of it in only 2 months)that makes one wonder what WotC’s idea of “playtesting” actually involved.

As opposed to 3.5’s sometimes anal complexity. Arduous prep times, and literal mountain of splatbooks that seem to drown some in a sea of munchkinism.

4E is a different type of game. We can go on and on about gaminst vs. simulationist drek, or even the WoW with dice junk. What it all boils down to is a shift to a different gaming experience. Some people REALLY liked the tactical stuff, and felt forced to roleplay. Some people disliked the hours of prep time. Everyone’s right!

Play the game you like. If 4E sucks, you don’t have to justify it any more than the reasons you don’t play F.A.T.A.L. or Blue rose or Zombie strippers from mars. It just doesn’t matter.

Relax folks…you are all right this time :)

Cory (August 14th, 2008)

Nope, I hate 4e because of the outrageous licenses for 3rd-party publishers. The rules changes seem reasonable enough.

Louis Porter Jr. (August 14th, 2008)

I think “hate” is the wrong word. I think the word, as a third party publisher, is “disappointed”. Just about everything about 4th Ed has been a disappointment. From the GSL to Gleemax to the first announcement of 4th Edition to even not actually releasing it at Gen Con. I am disappointed with the whole thing, from botton to top.

CountBuggula (August 14th, 2008)

Speaking of Pathfinder, so many people have downloaded the Beta version of the rules set as it’s launched today their servers crashed under the load.

Geek Gazette (August 14th, 2008)

I’m beginning to think Donny the DM is my long lost twin that doesn’t exist or vice versa. Our opinions, though different in some ways, are way to similar.

Ablefish (August 15th, 2008)

I hate 4th edition because the books sold out so fast they were hard to get. And I hate how easy it is to prepare games and run monsters - now I have time left to spend with my kid - what’s up with that. I also hate how it has excited all kinds of new players and rejuvenated my gaming group. That really sucks.

Oh wait, I guess those aren’t really good reasons.

What I do enjoy is the people who hate the game so much that they blog about how everyone hates it, knowing deep down that if their posts are going to be shallow, they’d better talk about 4E since that’s what everyone’s interested in. Oh, and if you can tie it in with Star Wars - well what geeky patron of RPG blogs could resist that? :)

craft247 (August 22nd, 2008)

To say no one hates forth addition would be wrong i have the core set .
my biggest complaint was that the core classes that should have been there were not .

it seemed rushed and incomplete and the new powers per day per encounter per second honestly it lakes the feel of d&D and gives me the feel that im playing a table top mmo if i wanted a system that had an mmo feel id play warcraft. i have a play group of 40 people we played the core system for 2 months to give it a try and 38 of the 40 people dint like it and expressed a fear of not being able to find any good material after 4th rolled out in full swing. i think ive found a place and if not my group will muddle threw with the vast 3.0 and 3.5 material we already have 3.0 and 3.5 made great improvements to d&d 4th simply made us old guys who have played since we bought the very first addition in the cardboard box set a little sick to our tummy’s well good luck which ever edition you play but i hope they support still those players who love the game and hate fourth i truly do hate it can i cast a spell can i cast it to day can i cast it tomorrow will i cast a spell do i have a spell at all this encounter bah it wasn’t broken just needed tweaked boo 4th addition

Ted (August 25th, 2008)

I’m really not sure how people get confused with how to use the new at-will, encounter and daily powers, like craft247.

I recently got married, and my wife is a huge fantasy lover. She liked the idea of D&D but was really put out by 3.5. She rolled a magic user, and had a hard time perusing through the big long list of spells, deciding which ones she wanted, and then was sorely disappointed. The first time, she burned through them all in one fight. The second session, she held back, sorely afraid of using her spells because she wanted to use them at the most effective time. The third session, she just gave up entirely and fell asleep on the couch 30 minutes into the game. We decided maybe she should roll a fighter character if she felt unproductive in battles, but she became very bored with that as well, as all she did was run around and say “I swing my axe,” ad nauseum over and over again.

When 4th edition came out, we decided to give it a whirl and she loved it. She rolled a warlock and the fact that she could cast Eldritch blast, which dealt 1d10 damage whenever she wanted to was a very good thing. When she found out though that she could still save some big spells for a cinematic finish with her encounters and dailies, she finally felt like a contributing member of the party. Before, she would sulk in the shadows, wait until she could cast her acid orb spell and deal a measly 1d4 damage, while everyone else around her was doing at least 1d6 if not more, then wonder if she’s even needed in the party and fall asleep. Much better this time around. Every class is unique and has something solid to contribute to the party.

Certainly this edition isn’t for everyone, but I feel 4th edition simplified the powers, not complicated them. I mean, c’mon. Having to choose every single one of your spells before the beginning of the day without knowing what you’re going to run into? Having to discern down to the exact number of utility, healing and damage spells you will use in the course of the day? How is that NOT complicated?

For the hardcore players who love coming up with ingenious ways to use Featherfall or Grease in a battle, more power to you. It’s not a wrong way to play by any means. But as for me and my house, we’ll be playing 4th edition.

Jason (August 26th, 2008)

I hadn’t played D&D in about 15 years, and on a whim after reading that 4E came out, I figured I’d buy the initial set of three books. I was quite surprised how much I loved the rules. When I last played we used 1E AD&D rules - mainly because our DM felt the 2E rules were too complicated. But I *hated* those books - to me they were so confusing, and the DM Manual wasn’t helpful to me at all when I finally chose to DM. But with 4E I loved not only the presentation style, but the DM Guide was so useful - lots of great knowledge. Heck, even the sample adventure and associated town description is great in the DM Guide - if not just for a great sample of starting your own world and campaign setting design. Additionally, I like all the “fluff” provided in the 4E Monster Manual, not only in hooks to adventures in monster descriptions and lore, but also sample monster groups.

Granted, I basically skipped 2E and 3E altogether - so I’ve never read those rules and seen if they’ve been streamlined and grown over the 90’s and early 2000’s, but from my experience with 1E I think 4E is awesome! Sure, there are some flaws - I agree with wanting more character types and races in the Player’s Manual and this is only made worse by the Player’s Manual 2 coming out months from now. But, I’m planning on purchasing most of the upcoming books as well.

And since the D20 Star Wars was mentioned. due to the “fun” I’ve had of reading through the new D&D stuff, I figured I’d pick up the newer D20 Star Wars stuff, too. I have a lot of the old WEG D6 Star Wars, but it might be nice to get the newer D20 stuff. I’ve thumbed through them at the bookstore, and while it suffers from some of the same short comings (like I wish I had *more* info in the initial book set), it might be nice to have another genre that uses the same overall rule-set that my gaming group can play.

Finally, I must say the prices of these books are very reasonable, with the caveat that I’ve been purchasing these off of Amazon. I can’t believe I’m getting these books for nearly the same price, if not cheaper, than what I paid for some of my RPG books back in the late 80’s, early 90’s. The List Price is obviously much higher, but many places I’ve looked are selling them at a much discounted price (and I settled on Amazon due to the free shipping). I can get what amounts to a good set of three books to kick off some fun nights of RPG-ing with my gaming group for around $60, it’s not much more than a good boardgame and way less than getting into a miniature game.

Tim (August 26th, 2008)

This post/rant about sums up my position:

Virgil (August 27th, 2008)

4th ed is bull it completly destroyed several races, dummed down the good the bad and the ugly and finaly just plane killed of any story lines that already made the game…THE GAME! i for one hate 4th with such vengence that im thinking of getting out of D&D for good!

it simply not right to old time gamers that grew up on 2-3.5 ed, wath the hell is wrong with having a well made and difined world for D&D huh? the tiefling looks like he was beaten with the whole ugly tree and the cultures that were such a part of the game are completly screwed now!

Virgil (August 27th, 2008)

so as for your “i think its great”
(Expilit coment) and the hourse u came in on

Aaron (August 30th, 2008)

I do not dig out my books and spend hours writing up intricately plotted adventures, fleshing out NPCs, and designing unique encounters to play “World of Dungeons and Dragons.” 35 Skills + knowledge skills are reduced to 17 skills and knowledge skills. (cheating a bit, since ‘History, Religion, and Dungeoneering’ are all now considered regular skills for some reason… so with that in mind, the reduction is actually to 14 skills + knowledge skills.’ The core classes are designed to fit specific party roles and are labeled as such. (Defender, Striker, and Leader? Why not be honest and write out “Tank, DPS, and Healer?”) The DMG actually advises DM’s to not bother fleshing out NPCs because they’re only important insofar as they get the players to the next encounter. Why does that bother me? Put little yellow exclamation points over their heads in the game artwork, and maybe it’ll click. Spellcasters get virtually no variety in choosing spells, especially the poor warlocks. (and isn’t *that* class a blatant rip off?) So you’re an infernal warlock? I guess you’re taking Hellish Rebuke/Eldritch Blast at level 1, and Fiery Bolt at level 3, and Iron Spike of Dis at level 9… so much for choices.

The death of the Great Wheel, the changed alignment system, and the race re-arrangement I can swallow.

But the dumbing down of the game into formulaic, MMORPG inspired raids of loosely linked combat encounters has killed it for me. If I wanted that kind of experience, I’d play WOW, where I can play whenever I want, finding a gaming group isn’t a problem, and there’s a sound-track.

Everyone I know who plays feels the same way, and are hoarding their old books because the new D&D is dead to us.

Richard (September 2nd, 2008)

Actually, I hate 4E because, flat out, it doesn’t allow me to build the characters I want. In 3E you could come up with any character concept that pleased you — a “dirt mage,” a fighter “armed” with two shields, a rogue focused entirely on stealth and information-gathering, etc. — and then find a way to make it playable with spell selection, feats, skills, etc. 4E has only a fraction of that flexibility. In 3E you could create and then build a character, a “role” to “play.” In 4E the best you can do is make a build and then try to infuse some character into it… but the rulebook itself is working against you. “You’re not Joe the Obsessive Monk,” it says; “You’re Joe the defender-type unit.” Instead of playing roles, you fulfill combat functions.

I’m glad you like the combat, but I want to, you know, play a roleplaying game, not a ridiculously overpriced tactical game. I can get a tactical game on my computer for $20 or less.

d7 (September 3rd, 2008)

You’ve certainly got a lot of comments! And they just keep coming. Here, let me add to the slow flood. :)

In many ways 4e is an improvement on 3.x. There were certainly a lot of problems with the 3rd edition, and 4e specifically targeted a lot of them: long prep times, the explosion of splat books, convoluted rules for any combat action other than “I swing”, and the baroque setting canon.

Why people dislike/hate/are disappointed is because how it fixed those wasn’t what they wanted. A lot of people dislike it who started into D&D with 3.x do because it’s not as rich a system. People who dislike it who started with 2e or earlier (which is all very much the same, system-wise, until you get to OD&D) dislike it for many more reasons. The trouble is that 4e fixes 3.x, but it’s a reaction to the problems of 3.x only and it fails to continue what people loved from earlier editions.

My biggest problem with 4e (and this is speaking as a DM who enthusiastically started a new campaign after buying the gift set) is that it fundamentally alters the player’s relationship to the fiction of the game. Bluntly, 4e made the fiction not matter. This is a huge departure from any previous D&D. It once was the case that players would look at the fiction and have to think “what makes sense for my character to do now?” and they’d declare an action. This action wouldn’t always be phrased in mechanics, but could just be “I throw myself through the tavern window and try to come up with my sword out”. The DM would then look at the fiction and make a ruling (not consult a rule) as to whether they can do that, and how it’s going to get resolved.

In 4e, you can’t do this. That example action must be broken down into movement during combat. A player can’t make a fictional declaration and know that it can be translated into game terms. They need to know the specific movement actions that are available to them, and speak in game terms. Before anyone protests that earlier D&D had to do this, no, it didn’t. Most 2e and 1e games relied on this sort of really quick declaration-resolution non-system, where the players say “I do this” and the DM says “Okay” or “Okay, roll this”.

Ironically, 4e made me want to play and run 1st edition because of this feature of the new rules. So now I’m running a game of that, doing it much better than when I was 13, and my 4e books are on the shelf.

This is already too long. For more elucidation on this idea, and just how much 4e breaks the connection between fiction and mechanics, see Talking in rule terms rather than adventure terms at the RPGsite, and Dissociated Mechanics by Jason Alexander.

John (September 3rd, 2008)

I hate 4th edition Hero Quest.. I mean Magic the Gathering minature game.. No, I mean WOW, .. wait, wait, its called D&D. Sorry, I almost forgot the name. Anyways I hate this new edition. To prove that it’s not “Change” that I hate, I was a huge fan of 2nd edition and original skeptical of 3rd edition but I fell in love with it hours after buying the 3rd edition PHB!

Johnathan Hales (September 4th, 2008)

Honestly, I dig 4th edition thus far. I just can’t wait until there is more source material for it. Currently I am not that interested in playing a 4th ed game, seeing as the campaigns I run are really reliant on the various 3.5 sourcebooks available. I currently play a game in the FR 4th ed world, and it’s pretty cool, but the reality is that at the moment, there isn’t too much material for this system quite yet. id’ homebrew some content, but I always seem to prefer WotC’s stuff over mine.


Johnathan Hales (September 4th, 2008)

However, I hasten to add, that the rules set and the class consolidation is aimed at casual players, not hardcore rpgamers like myself. Adopting the combat system is excellent, however. While I have to agree with Virgil’s assessment, it bears mentioning that they wanted to appeal to the casual gamer, so that they didn’t have to spend 3 hours creating a character because they don’t want to fully absorb every rule.

Xavier (September 9th, 2008)

Fourth edition is the first step of dumbing the game down into a table top WOW game.

Healing surge - “Your first aid is now 226…” All characters can heal themselves through will power? Why not just call it runecloth or neatherweave bandages and
move on.
Magic items ~ Now refered to hand slot, head slot… etc. items… Sound familiar?
Classes ~ All druids, monks, and barbarians dissapeared in the last .5 of an upgrade? Orcs, and gnomes similarly got the shaft.
Versitle ~ Ted up above was complaining that his wife couldn’t understand 3ed and ended up running around swinging an axe cause it was simple enough for her, what’s
the difference now Ted that she’s running around casting the same at will spell all of the time? As a DM or a player I’m going to get bored to death of
hearing or saying. “I cast magic missle.” for the 20th time during that single encounter. Or I cast fireball and regardless of level it does 3d6… So
much like WOW you keep pumping out the same spell… At least on my computer I have a hot key for it.

I’ve been playing for over 15 years and have seen the update from 2e to 3e, to 3.5e. Fourth edition while bringing some improvements to the game has done more to ruin the rpg by turning it into a what’s hot now market item. I won’t be handing over my money for 4th ed and in fact will look to buy an extra 3.5ed guide as a back up incase I have new players come along. The only people that I have found to like the game are the less imaginative ones who want their character completely defined for them so they don’t have to think.

Teo Prime (September 25th, 2008)

"I hate 4th edition Hero Quest.. I mean Magic the Gathering minature game.. No, I mean WOW, .. wait, wait, its called D&D. Sorry, I almost forgot the name. Anyways I hate this new edition. To prove that it’s not "Changeâ€? that I hate, I was a huge fan of 2nd edition and original skeptical of 3rd edition but I fell in love with it hours after buying the 3rd edition PHB!"

John,you truly said it all.THe new edition is a game based on d20 system,NOT a dungeons and dragons game.
I’m a rpg gamer dating from 2nd edition too,and i also enjoyed the 3 and 3,5 system.

But 4th…AWh…

Qit el-Remel (September 26th, 2008)

What do I have against 4th Edition?

Simplifying it would have been one thing.  But it’s oversimplified—I’d almost go so far as to say “dumbed down.”

The setting and cosmology changes were completely unneccessary.

The Monster Manual seems somehow incomplete without the obligatory brief descriptions of each creature.

And did I mention that it’s been “Blizzed”? Complete with tieflings that look like dra…ahem, eredar?

Terren (October 2nd, 2008)

I have to say I fail to see the argument that D&D 4th edition was “oversimplified”. I think the game has improved considerably in that I don’t have to play a wizard now just to have some variety in combat. The classes have a lot more actions to do each round rather just “swinging” one’s sword. Also, actions that had draconian mechanisms for executing (grapple, for one) have been clarified.

I also enjoy the monsters in the game. Each encounter against a creature I haven’t fought before (whether high level or low) has special attacks that make combats more exciting. If anything, I would say most low-level combat in 3.5 was rather boring and, dare I say it—“dumbed down”— in terms of monsters just using some futile attack round after round. Putting on my DM hat for a second, getting rid of the crazy CR system for designing encounters was a major plus. I also like how traps and terrain are factored into the difficulty level of the counter.

I have to admit, I was never fond of combat in 3.5 and had to rely on roleplaying for my enjoyment of the game (which is how it should be). Now, while I still enjoy roleplaying, I also enjoy combat as well.

Karl-Erlend (October 15th, 2008)

I actually like 4th edition. We play it almost every sunday and my dwarf is yelling alot and hitting stuff.
But…it just isn’t a role playing game any more. It’s all tactics, every single little aspect of it.
I think our DM is doing a good job setting up encounters for us, but I don’t think I could ever DM it myself. It is just to sad, working with such a bleak shadow of other games.
It hasn’t made me want to go back to 3.x though. No.
It has made me want to go back to Earth Dawn. Do you remember that system? It is everything that is good with 4th ed, and everything that is good with 3rd ed done better.

Bybye WotC. Hello RedBrick limited.

Anonymous (October 28th, 2008)

For me it is still 2e. Though I liked things about 3e. I just thought 3e went hp crazy and presitge class crazy. I really don’t like 4e. The magic system is blah.

Anonymous (November 15th, 2008)

I like 4th as a boardgame. As a RPG, nope, not at all.

I hate 4th Edition because there are certain aspect of the game that I enjoyed was removed, things that was in all the editions previous. These so call imperfection made it ‘D&D’ for me and my friends. The so called “improvements” made it a different game. Some changes where just insane, such as Dragonborn and Teiflings as standard races. Absolutely made no sense in-game. Why not make a race call Demi-God?

It’s like waking up and finding out that you’re adopted.

Christine (November 16th, 2008)

I haven’t played so I can’t say I hate it. Some of what my friends who have played though makes me think I would not enjoy it. I will say it was totally unnecessary. There was nothing wrong with 3.5. It seems like someone decided it would be cheaper to pay a bunch of statisticians to come up with a new game rather than pay writers to create new content. Of course that is all pure speculation.

Ncik666 (November 22nd, 2008)

I really have a problem with 4th ed because basically it seems to me that it was designed with the specific intention to break the rules down into combat oriented gaming. Its been said before but it honestly appears as if WotC watched the success of WoW and decided to make a tabletop out of it. With 3rd ed you could honestly do just about anything, the DM has ultimate freedom with creating whatever they want for a campaign. I remember one time we decided on a short campaign were everyone was required to be zombies. It was legitametely fun. The system was so well enplaced that “rulings” whether or not they were in the actual rules could be used to make the gamne fair. I remember finding and using a prestige class explicitly designed to allow me to jump from place to place in combat. Theres no way to make flavor like that in 4th ed.

Cursed8080 (November 30th, 2008)

4th edition is a fine game, but I simply prefer 3x. After buying the first three books, reading them, and having run a couple months of adventures, I had a good time, but it felt too watered down.

4th does a good job of fixing some aspects of 3e that were little more than brain-farts of the developers. Vancian magic justly got the axe. The 15 minute day (because after one encounter, you may have blown your higher level spells, and need to rest for another day to regain them—hence the 15 min day) was mostly eliminated. Class balance was given more attention. Periodic errata would correct problems rather than letting them fester. Racial differences became important again. Finally, epic support was hard-wired into the core product.

As a whole, they did a very good job of homing in on 3e’s problems. However, they also homed in on things which were fine, and some of their cures were worse than the disease. Non-combat magic was removed and put into the highly impractical rituals. Healing surges just seem so video-game. (Yeah, I got clubbed with a tree by a giant, but the fight is over now, so I am ok!) The lore was gutted. The Realms have been changed so drastically that it wouldn’t be much of an overstatement to say that they are gone and replaced with some new Realms-based thing. The great wheel (which I wished they would flesh out in greater detail) is gone. One nit point that irked me more than it should of is that the PHB declares that at 30th level, you decide that you aren’t interested in adventuring anymore and declares it game over. I thought that was my decision to make?

For me, the key problem is that everyone is basically a different type a sorceror now, and classes are effectively shoe-horned into nit roles. Although I agree that the martial classes needed a bit of spice, I don’t think it was handled the right way. In 3e, you could customize and build something that suits your play style. (However, there was so many garbage PrCs, feats and skills that it was really easy to screw up and make a useless character). But is it an improvement to have a mostly pre-packed character rammed down your throat?

I loved 3e, but I would have been willing to trade it for a better game. 4e is a good game, but IMHO, it is not better. For those who disagree, congrats and enjoy. For me, my group had been having trouble holding on because of real-world obligations. Since we wrapped up our 3e campaign to try 4th, and since we didn’t love it, it looks like this is the end of our 14 years of gaming. Well, I guess we had to grow up sometime.

Doctor Mobius (February 2nd, 2009)

I have to say that I’m disappointed with 4e for the most part. It’s a good game, but it doesn’t really feel like D&D. Class and race wise, everything is more “Uber” Gnomes are replaced by Dragon Men, Druids are gone but now we have Warlords etc etc. Even Green Dragons weren’t scary enough and got a cosmetic makeover to make them more bad ass looking. Also characters feel far more channeled into a specific role instead of being more customizable.

That said I do like to play 4e. The combat is fairly quick, and that’s a plus. The idea of daily, encounter, and at will powers is a great one, especially for magic users.

I do miss the ability to research spells and build a library of them to use and adapt with. Everyone feels like a sorcerer. The diversity in how different classes actually worked has changed significantly now that everyone has big, medium, and small abilities paced out the same way each.

I think 4e would have gone over better as a separate version of D&D rather than a replacement. Something like “D&D Tactics” It’s a good game, but not a better game than 3e. What we have is a system that plays smoother, but feels shallower. The people I find disliking 4e the most are either hard core min/maxers and dungeon crawlers, or hard core role players who have their long term campaign ruined because there was no conversion for a Gnome Bard. Middle of the road folks and new players tend to like it a lot more than 3e.

So for me personally, I won’t be buying the books. I’ll certainly play 4e, but I’ll continue to run 3e…. And Torg. :P

DM Todd (February 27th, 2009)

I have been running a game for about 5 months now and my experience running it has been painful.

My best friend decided to make a rogue and put his high stats in intelligence and charisma. His lowest stat was in his Dexterity. This is really all you have to do to make a crappy character in 4th edition. Just don’t put your stats where they say and now your screwed. There are no individuals in 4th edition, a rogue will always have the same stats and if he doesn’t he’s going to die.

The power system seems to work pretty well for spell casters. I’ve always hated the vancian magic system. But every player that plays a martial character winds up asking “why can’t I use this attack again?” Applying the concept of so many uses per combat or per day just doesn’t make any sense when it comes to hitting something with your sword. It makes for a balanced game system sure, but that doesn’t make it make sense.

Healing surges have effectively recreated the situation that they tried to eliminate by introducing at will powers and encounter powers. They should have just said “in between encounters you heal to full hit points”. That’s what people wind up doing with healing surges, so why pussy foot around? Healing surges just add another thing to track until you need to take an extended rest. My players have had as little as two encounters between extended rests because they needed to get back their healing surges. It’s the same 15 minute day that existed in 3rd edition just with a different game mechanic causing it.

Drew (September 21st, 2009)

3rd Edition (and even more so with 3.5) was (and I quote Gary Gygax here) “The new D&D is too rule intensive. It’s relegated the Dungeon Master to being an entertainer rather than master of the game. It’s done away with the archetypes, focused on nothing but combat and character power, lost the group cooperative aspect, bastardized the class-based system, and resembles a comic-book superheroes game more than a fantasy RPG where a player can play any alignment desired, not just lawful good” — I personally think there was no real bitterness in that statement (he had left TSR behind years ago), and I have to agree with him totally.

Those of you who like 4th (or 3rd or 3.5 for that matter) Edition, have to realize they might be playing a Fantasy RPG with some elements of D&D/AD&D — but they AREN’T Playing D&D/AD&D — its a derivite.

D&D/AD&D was written/created by Dave Arneson & Gary Gygax. Anything else (even products that might hold the license) created/produced not under the direct control of those two very missed individuals is NOT D&D/AD&D.

Its like reading a Discworld story not written by Terry Pratchett, it might be ABOUT Discworld — possibly even legally and professionally produced. But its NOT from the mind of Terry Pratchett, so it can never be truly Discworld.

Modern D&D is a Miniatures Game with Roleplaying elements built in. You can put as many rules and systems in place as you want, I’ve bought a LOT of 4e stuff, and was on the verge of starting up DM’ing the new Edition when something struck me — the constant churning over balance meant that (pretty much) all the character types were becoming the same. Sure the descriptive text is pretty, but ALL the mechanics of Feats/Spells and the like meant everything pretty much worked the same way — wheres the fun in that.

Back in the ‘Old Days’ balance came from the Dungeon Master. If something was too powerful, he countered it with something in the Scenario or something ‘unexpected’ in the Game World. If a Character was rapidly becoming dominant within a group, generally it was because of his natural strength of personality — not because of the rules of a game, dice rolls, or character he chose to play (think “Colin” Lol, every group has a Colin - he was always the bully of the group).

As Don Turnbul (he used to be head of TSR UK) once said to me at a Con (all those years ago again Lol), “don’t rely on the rules too much — always try to make some of it up as you go along; both you and your players will have more fun that way”.

The current RPG market is made up of sterile recycled overly complicated rulesets.

D&D/AD&D had it right, unfortunately MOST people either can’t see it or are too stubborn to admit it.

Keep Rollin — Drew

Royal T (March 12th, 2010)

Hello everyone, I am an old-school gamer (Not in the traditional sense though). I was late in playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, due to the fact that I was but ten-years-old when I was able to get a hold of the books. A few years went by and I played 3rd edition.
I respect and honor Dave Arneson & Gary Gygax. I read what they wrote, what they wanted for their game, and what they expected.

Then… 4th edition came out…

Now, back when 3.5 edition came out, I still played ‘Old School,’ not allowing Prestige classes and keeping most of the things the same between 2nd and 3rd edition.

But let me tell you: Gary Gygax would NEVER have wanted you to play this game. 4th edition is not his game. It was not his vision of Role-playing at all. And despite all the fans of 4th edition, Wizards of The Coast really screwed up with this one.

And to prove my point about how badly 4th edition sucked, I told my friend to pull out the new monster manual. He did so, and my friend also played a very popular MMORPG (Multi-Massive Online Role-Playing Game). I noticed that one of the creatures in this MMORPG was very similar to another creature in 4th edition, I told him to pull out the stats for that monster.
I pointed to the new Monster Manual and pointed at some of the stats on that creature. I told him:

"I want you to add an extra zero or two to those, and compare them to the other creatures’."

He did just that, and it took him a few minutes to realize it, but he figured it out… they were exactly the same.

I had proven that 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons was nothing more than World Of Warcraft on paper.

… My friend immediately threw the Monster manual across the room and yelled.

I despise 4th edition with a great passion. I do enjoy some of the ideas from this new edition, but not only is it too simplified, it is also not even close to the older editions. This was WOTCs way of producing an online game with little effort and I swear, if Gary Gygax was still alive, he would be ashamed.

4th edition is NOT Dungeons & Dragons. It’s World Of Warcraft on paper.

Jonathan Drain (March 12th, 2010)

Royal T: You had me up until the part where a D&D player threw a book that he paid money for.

Nevertheless, I’m interested in investigating your claims: Do you remember which monster it was and which MMORPG?

DragonChild (March 13th, 2010)

You’d think the 4e haters wouldn’t outright lie to make their point. There’s enough about the system to dislike. But claiming that a WoW monster and a 4e monster have the same stats except for a 0? That’s basically an outright lie. And I’d bet money he won’t even attempt to prove otherwise.

Royal T (March 13th, 2010)

Jonathan Drain: sadly, I do not remember the exact monster I compared to another, but I think it was two wolves. I am also unsure if my friend was playing WOW or Faction Wars.

I have nothing against World of Warcraft, the fact that so many people play it is proof that it is great. And the same could be said about 4th edition. But even though it doesn’t directly prove my point, I’d like to show you some similar statistics, between WOW and 4th edition. You may find them enjoyable. I found and compared these in just a few minutes.

(note: I do not own a copy of WOW and so I do not have all the stats necessary to make a direct comparison.)

Snow Tracker Wolf (in WOW)

Level 6: 121.176470588 HP

In 4th edition: Worg (p.265 MM) HP: 120 

Their Hit Points are almost exactly the same. :P

Ice Claw Bear (in WOW)

Level 7: 172 HP

In 4th edition: Cave Bear (p.29 MM) HP: 170

Again, very similar.

Battleboar (in WOW)

Level 4: 89.2 HP

In 4th edition: Dire Boar (p.35 MM) HP: 85

I see a pattern. :D

Black Dragon Whelp (in WOW)

Level 17: 299.121212121 HP

In 4th edition: Young Black Dragon (p.75 MM) HP: 224

Primitive Owlbeast (in WOW)

Level 45: 2021.70454545 HP

In 4th edition: Owlbear (p.212 MM) HP: 212

Just add an extra zero to the Owlbears’s Hit points and they are almost the same.

Again, this does not prove my point (exactly). But with all the similarities from the HP alone I am very suspicious. Also, I looked on the Internet for about 5 minutes to find these statistics, so they may be slightly inaccurate.

DragonChild: I apologize if my previous message upset you. I did not intend to hurt anyones feelings, merely to just express how similar the two systems are. I will admit that most comparisions were not exact, (I looked for just about 5 minutes)
And as for the bet: I will let you keep the money. I don’t want it. :P

Now, I have a question, and I would like to know if this is possible:

Could Blizzard and Wizards of The Coast be working together?

If not, could Blizzard sue WOTC if they deemed the system too similar?

Any ideas?

Jonathan Drain (March 13th, 2010)

Perhaps WotC could sue Blizzard for stealing hit point values from their third edition monsters:

D&D3E: Gargoyle, 37HP (MM 3.5)
WoW: Putrid Gargoyle, 3600.74666667 HP

D&D3E: Ogre, 29HP (MM3.5)
WoW: Firegut Ogre, 2990.68181818 HP

D&D3E: Flesh golem, 79HP (MM3.5)
WoW: Flesh golem, 8003 HP

DragonChild (March 13th, 2010)

I don’t even what is this

There are 76 different possible maximum HP values for boars in WoW, not counting any boars that lack “Helboar” or “Boar” in their names. 76. If I take a two-digit number, what do you think the odds are that it’ll match up between one of 76 different, randomly picked numbers?

Doing a quick scan on the word “wolf”, and filtering out named NPCs, there seems to be around twice as many wolves in WoW a there are boars. Tell me, what are the odds that if you pick a two-digit number, it’ll match up to at least one out of 100 randomly chosen two-digit numbers?

The WoW and the D&D black dragon you’re comparing aren’t even remotely similar. One of them is an acid-spitting creature that lives in swamps, breathes underwater, and is relatively large. The other is a housecat sized fire-breathing creature found in mountainous areas. The only thing they share in common are the scales.

In short: your arguments are silly and statistically unsound.

NJDevil88 (July 2nd, 2010)

I played it once and hated it. I agree…it is WoW with pen, paper and pencils. I had a group that was playing 3.5 and I kept it old school (1st ed ADD) type campaign. The older guys loved it. The younger guys (both avid WoW players) hated it and cried when they died (because they did something very dumb and were not used to not being able to ressurect ight away). One of them bought 4th ed and we vgave it a try. It ended the group. The older guys stayed with my campaign and the WoW players stayed with 4th ed.

Xamon Blackstar (August 24th, 2010)

I definatly do not like 4th ed for the simple reason that it is ALL about combat, there is no story left, I’m sorry but my first D&D book was purple, thats how long I have been playing, loved D&D, AD&D1st, 2nd and 3.5. I actualy had the WOW d20 books and they were better than the 4th ed rules. People used to complain about hack and slash campaigns well that seems to be what WOTC wants everyone to play. My older stuff all the way back have honoured places on my shelves, the 4th ed books I have are stuffed in a drawer or box somewhere and shall remain there unless I decided to recycle them, I certainly wouldn’t foist this garbage on someone else.

Jonathan Morales (September 3rd, 2010)

People gotta remember: D&D was made by modifying a-by then-existing miniature wargame. They added some roleplaying elements to the wargame, made it more personal instead of using armies, and you got your sweet D&D.

And people complain about using minis while playing the game, when it’s basically going back to core.

It’s too WoW-like? In what regard? People keep saying this, but they never explain WHY. Because you have At-Wills, Encounter and Daily powers? Protip: you had those in previous editions, just less streamlined and worse.

Combat-oriented? Protip: D&D has ALWAYS been about giving you rules for combat while you were given liberty OUTSIDE of combat. Why do you think old editions lacked skills the way most people knew then? You didn’t need them. You didn’t need a Perform(Lute) when your character has been playing the lute all his life. The game is as combat or skill oriented as YOU or the DM want it to be. I’ve been playing in relatively RP-heavy campaigns based on 4th edition, and they’re as great as any RP I would’ve done in 3.x.

Less to work with regarding character customization? First, they removed negative scores from ALL races, so now a Half-Orc wizard is very viable and won’t just hurt you badly. Second, you gain Feats every TWO levels, which allow you to customize your character more efficiently and quicker. Third, no more PrCs. They were clunky, hard to work it, and had TOO many prerequisites to take a level in them, which meant that you were SHOEHORNED into taking ranks in skills you will most likely NOT use to take a measly level in that PrC. Now, you have Paragon Paths. And you can still Multiclass, so you can play that one Fighter/Wizard you so much love, but now it’s less of a hassle.

I’m glad they removed metamagic from combat and kept it where it should be: OUTSIDE of combat. Fly and Invisibility are great spells, but when your mage is Corellon knows how many feet in the air, while invisible, fumbling through his spellbook to cast a save-or-die spell to obliterate half of the enemy forces, you know something is not right here.

I’m glad the kinda removed the Vancian system. It’s too shitty in lower levels and makes playing lower levels a hassle. Oh, the party Wizard ran out of Magic Missile and Color Spray, what will he do? Run away, that’s what. In 4th edition, your character will NEVER be useless in that way.

Can’t roleplay? WHat are skills, Rituals, martial arts and Martial Practices for then? And god forbid, ACTUAL player interaction?

Most people complaining about 4th edition are just…nostalgic, or they just don’t want to spend money on new books. We’re OK with that, but don’t whine about a great system without trying it.

JM (September 12th, 2010)

There’s a difference between complaining about 4th Edition simply because you’re a reactionary curmudgeon, and expressing entirely legitimate and not in the least refuted gripes about the system—which has been done time and again.

PanzerLion (January 13th, 2011)

I understand to that 3e and 3.5e were a powergamer’s dream, with unlimited multiclassing and an unending selection of feats and methods to max out a character. A strong DM and individual restraint were often enough to deter the worst of it and still allow for a character concept to go directly from the players mind onto the sheet of paper in front of them with little or no modification. In effect, each character had their own talent tree and development path that was made for them specifically vs having one spelled out for them by a game mechanic that punishes outside the box thought. To the point, while it is younger, 4e has already displayed increased favour of narrowly focused characters by releasing feats aimed overwhelmingly at a class in particular and then more so by requiring a race/class combo for many. This stymies creativity by saying “You could go generic, or even outside the box… or you could take these carefully crafted feats and be like every other X and therefore be more effective in your class and racial role!”.

Looking to the area of 2e AD&D, specifically the Player’s Option era at the end, we see a balance between the outrageous explosion of options from 3e & 3.5e and the severe reduction of them in 4e. In fact, the more I look back, 2e AD&D had a decent set of checks and balances for players. You could modify your attributes/race/class/equipment and take a kit for a very unique character, or play it straight and still be entirely viable in battle. Iconic bands like the heroes of the original Dragonlance books, the Icewind Dale series or the Avatar trilogy aren’t possible in the 4e game mechanics (their class combos, skills, items and parties don’t “work”).

WOTC made no bones about the fact that many of the changes and ideas that went into 4e were based in the MMORPG phenomena, and were done to attract online gamers and those familiar with online games. It worked. With 4e they offered the familiar Talent Tree, a rigid system with several outcomes, supported by a series of calculations that masquerade as real choices. Followed up by reducing the number of and types of weapons, armour, and mundane items available and assigning (in some cases very arbitrarily) levels to every magic item then carefully ensuring their powers became 1/encounter or 1/day effects, mimicking the “cool down” of online items and powers.

The result is that players familiar only in passing with MMORPG’s (i.e.: me) find the system frustratingly limited in scope and depth, with personal creativity stifled by a system of game mechanics designed to focus players onto one of a handful of goals. Feelings of reward are shifted from the achievement of seeing your personal creation succeed, and in doing so, enables the group to succeed to a different reward. The new reward is building the ideal build for your role, and then succeeding a party of like built characters. In both instances, the goal is group success, but one does it with whatever is at hand without punishing the players while the other was engineered to be difficult if you’re not cooperating with the systems built in preferences to a standardized party.

Grudgebringer (January 14th, 2011)

i can’t really comment on 4e, i’ve yet to switch from 2e. i’ve been playing this game for a little over 20 years now and have been disappointed with most publications presented by wotc. to me 3e was the gateway for trying to turn dnd into a table top video game. i ignored 3.5 and have absolutely no interest in 4e.

tattooed_punkrock (February 17th, 2011)

So, the move from 3rd / 3.5 D&D to 4th was where i drew the line. I remember the 2nd - 3rd move, and although we were dragged there, it wasn’t kicking and screaming. The new LENGTHY combat (attacks of opportunity?)tended to drag down our often large group (seldom less than 8), and many of us revolted though in time we grew to enjoy the new 3.5 system. Although I miss 2nd edition and all it’s 0 - 60, KITS (fuck remember how cool kits were?), MIN / MAX Heaven. I was FURIOUS with Wizards changing my beloved RPG (2nd - 3.5). Everyone knew where all the tables were in the PH and DMG, and introducing a “newbie” to the group meant lots of hand-holding, but these “rights of passage” were part of the appeal. I understand the desire to make the game mechanics easier to grasp, but i HATE THAT. One of the most attractive aspects of gaming is esoterica. Our own language regarding “fumbles” and other colloquials created a sort of cabal where our aim was blood and glory until sunrise (or until we needed a break for more Mountain Dew). The dumbing down of D&D is in some respect “inclusive”, but it as well diminishes the allure for me. I enjoy having to obtain (through play experience)the lexicon that included execution of basic play as well as the specifics of “Delayed Blast Fireball”, and how may more d6 damage it maxed at. My gaming group went out of our way to introduce new players to the game, encouraged creative game play, and had no problem slowing down to explain why Kobolds are always attacked last. Ok i get it, Wizards needs to sell books, they drool over the money WOW makes, but why not do what they do best, a game that one must dedicate time to understanding. If i wanted an easier game I’d play RISK (which I do at times). Lets leave simplicity to Hasbro, and not attempt to be all things to all people. I’m not crossing over to the “4th ed. simplicity”, i’ll remain mired in 3.5 obscurity (or maybe step back to 2nd). But if Wizards continues it’s campaign toward mediocrity while discontinuing support of beloved systems, they may end-up obscure themselves. A footnote on a page regarding fantasy gaming.

Anonymous (February 19th, 2011)

4th edition DND is a horrible abortion, comprised of the most unappealing and loathsome elements of a tabletop game. As a long time player, who has read nearly every single issue of dragon magazine(and the seven issue Strategic review that came before),who owns an original copy of Men and Magic,and played 3.x extensively, I must say that Mr.Gary Gygax is rolling in his grave. And how?

1-The elimination of the Alignment system.

Although some would see this a straight-jacket, I disagree. It was a crucial element to roleplaying. From nine, we have five, leaving mesh and overlay, which confuses and irks many, including those in my gaming group.

2-“Powers” and the elimination of Vancian Magic.

The implementation of powers in 4th edition is foolish and contrived. It marginalizes the distinct features of classes, and renders them all the same; just swap fighter with wizard, and your damage output will be the same! Spellcasters are now delegated to “DPS” machines, having to resort to rituals that an equivalent level 3.x spell caster could blow out of the water.

3-The elimination of traditional cosmologies, and gods.

Where is Limbo? Where is my Clock Work Nirvana? Gehnna? Hades? Nowhere to be found. 30+ years of development, eschewed in favor of a puerile system that makes the Planes less wondrous, and more “Cookie Cutter”.

Where is Heironeous? Where is Nerull? Obad-Hai? Hell, what about Garl Glittergold? Looks likes the Halflings don’t get a racial deity…..

Eliminating so many of the “Traditional gods” Seems pointless and unneeded.

3- The reintroduction of former Dungeons and Dragons Modules.

I ran a traditional Tomb of Horrors, using Mr.Gygax’s no saving throw rules for Acererak, and my party had a blast(Gold more then compensated), but with 4th edition turning it’s back on “Save or Die”, traditional adventures(and enemies for that matter), become boring and unengaging. I mean really, I want my Acererak to rip your soul out, and make my pcs watch their souls burn in his teeth. I want my Great Green Devil to be a ruthless black hole. These reintroductions marginalize the original visions of this games creator.

The author of this article presents several other valid reasons, which only strengthen my resolve.

Congratulations, Wizards. Your plan of buying out TSR, and destroying the game so people can buy your shitty card games is going swimmingly.

oldgamergeek (March 1st, 2011)

I don’t like 4e as a rule set, I don’t like the way that the 4vengers hound me at the game store and conventions oh no he is not playing 4e quick 4vengers 4semble and yes this has been happening since the game came out.okay maybe not exactly like this but close enough. these people hit me with evangelistic zeal and there is no escape, no live and let live, nothing but You must play 4e and like it.

Marc (October 7th, 2011)

Getting to this late but yeah, the way George killed SW with Eps 1-3 elicits very much the same emotions in me that 4e does!

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