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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » RPG fans, what's your impression of D&D 4th Edition? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: RPG fans, what's your impression of D&D 4th Edition?
Selran
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I know from past threads there are some roleplaying game fans here? Have you had a chance to see D&D 4E yet? What are your thoughts?
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Szymon
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I havent seen it. What's new? I am quite familiar with the last one, didnt like too much.
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MightyCow
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I haven't played yet, but a friend of mine played for a few hours, and told me it's very much like a miniatures war game mixed with video game rules. He didn't like it very much.
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TheGrimace
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From all that I've seen of it (books are en-route, but I've been following the pre-release excerpts, and talking with a friend that got their books monday) it can best be summed up as follows:

If you take it as it's own game, and don't compare it against previous editions of D&D you'll probably be quite happy with it. It definitely seems to most resemble WoW in pen&paper format rather than the almost completely open-ended game that it was initially spawned from.

I could go on at length about the various things that have struck me as unpleasant changes, but the general summary seems to be that it is a well-balanced tactical/dungeoncrawling game that has some throwbacks to traditional 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition D&D

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scholarette
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My husband looked at it for a while at the store and was disappointed, but we haven't played it so not sure. We are starting a new campaign in a few weeks, and we will be using 3.0. We want to use the Rokugan campaign setting. That was one of our big concerns with the new version. We rarely use standard DnD settings and it will be a while before they have stuff out there. My husband's favorite setting is Ravenloft, our friend is really into Eberron and my favorite is Rokugan (Oriental Adventures). I could be wrong, but I don't think those will be among the first ones they put out.
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Itsame
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I played it last weekend, and ended up playing chess on my laptop when it wasn't my turn during an attacking round. My DM got pissed off at me and said that he wouldn't be inviting me back. We're friends and hang out, evidently it won't be with regards to D&D, though. They all loved it. I hated it.
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The Pixiest
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Kill It With Fire.

Keep the MMOs on the computer (in all their time sucking glory, I love them so much.) And keep D&D on Pen and Paper. (Where I also love it so much!)

D&D peaked at 3.0. 3.5 nerfed casters too much and 4.0 is a completely different game.

The only thing that jumps out at me that I *like* about 4.0 is the At-Will/Encounter/Daily spells/abilities. I think that helps the "Hey guys, we're out of heals and nukes. It's only 11am, but let's bed down for the night" problem.

So I want to know what you guys think of this adaptation for 3.0/3.5:

Any spell your level or one level lower is a daily spell (that is, if you cast lvl 5 spells, level 4 and 5 spells are daily spells.) Any spell 2 or 3 levels lower than you are Encounter spells (from our example above, lvl 2 and 3 spells would be encounter spells.) and any spell more than 4 or more levels below you are At Will spells (Magic missile all you want!)

This is probably too powerful...

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Selran
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My impression is it does a good job of delivering the dungeon delving experience and is really just focused on that. I consider this a good thing as that is want I want out of a D&D game. I look to other RPGs to get different experiences.
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Selran
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Szymon:

You're Polish and you like RPGs. You need to know about this game based on the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

The Pixiest:

I agree. Your idea is too powerful. You could make it work if the limit the number of spells you could do this with, like one at will, one per encounter and one daily in addition to normal allotment. Even that may be unbalancing.

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TomDavidson
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I posted this elsewhere:

1) Man, humans are underpowered.
2) Man, dragonborn are overpowered.
3) Huh. Half-elves don't necessarily suck.
4) What was the point of splitting elves into wood elves and high elves? I know they wanted to work the fey into the setting, but why then keep the old-style wood elves at all? (Answer: they wanted to preserve the forest elf/archer archetype, but needed to insert some Elric somewhere.)
5) I'm not sure how I feel about skills being flattened. Tying skill bonuses to level and using "proficiencies" hearkens back to older editions -- and is a nice simplification that also helps eliminate some of the ridiculous DC inflation in 3E. But it also makes customization a little harder, since the only real way to customize a skill-based character is through feats. Heck, the only way to make a skill-based character is through feats.
6) Which is the next observation: in 3E, it was possible to run non-combat games, since you had non-combat skills and non-combat powers. 4E, like First Edition, is all about the battles. Even healing has been retrofitted so that it mostly happens during the battles now. Again, if you're into the tactical wargame aspect of D&D, this is a plus; if you want to play a pacifistic courtesan, you're going to be almost entirely unsupported by the rules in everything you do.
7) In a game with fewer skills, additionally capping sneak attack at 2d6 (and strictly limiting most class abilities to a handful of weapons) seriously nerfs the rogue.
8) The paladin and the non-melee cleric, on the other hand, are seriously powered up. And melee clerics are going to be thrilled to be able to heal allies by hitting bad guys with sticks.
9) Spell and power organization is a pain in the butt if you're looking for some specific power you only know by name or effect. You're clearly meant to pick powers each time you level, rather than build "toward" something.
10) Permanently limiting a character to the same two at-will powers he had at 1st level seems a bit restrictive, even with the ability to respec one feat, power, etc. per level (in just one of many nods to MMOs). This is especially true when you consider that there are two "suggested" builds for each class, and there are two powers clearly and obviously intended to be taken by each of the two (based on prime requisites, etc.) This makes building a character very simple, but also ensures that the differences between two first-level Guardian Paladins are going to be largely cosmetic unless someone decides to take some really outre feats.
11) The idea that you don't need to use your at-will powers as your main attacks, but that you might as well go ahead and do so, is one that's grown on me a little. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that a non-melee cleric is probably better off not carrying a weapon, though. I wonder if resistances level the playing field a little.
12) The idea that certain attacks have effects -- even do damage -- on a Miss is one that I find compelling.
13) Rethinking the whole concept of spells -- formerly static effects against which someone could make an active save -- and turning them into active attacks against someone's passive defense score is, I think, a good one. It simplifies the concept of multiple varieties of defense and eliminates the need for a second roll. It also makes things like the attempt to Intimidate someone into a fairly straight-ahead "attack" on a victim's willpower.
14) I know what they're trying to do with healing surges, but it feels clumsy to me. Perhaps a bit too much JRPG influence here.
15) I think limiting the use of a wizard's talisman to once per encounter makes sense from a balance perspective, but is slightly awkward and hard to justify. I haven't gone in detail through the feats yet to see if there are multiple feats that encourage use of the talismans (in a way that perhaps parallels the clerical Channel Divine power), but I perceive the need.
16) The division between "heroic," "paragon," and "epic" is pretty laughable. But it's going to make marketing the modules easier. I also like the idea of prestige (or "paragon") classes being in addition to one's regular class, rather than replacing it.
17) Overall, a lot of interesting combat options and surprisingly outside-the-box approaches to rules -- but a disappointing loss of flexibility and universality. Multiclassing is going to be largely pointless, but might also be the only way to create, say, a rogue who dabbles in necromancy and uses a bastard sword by preference. I don't actually see 4E replacing 3E any time soon; it's really speaking to a different audience altogether. 3E was for people who grew up with Second Edition but switched to playing White Wolf games in the early '90s; 4E is for old-school Basic Set players and their grandchildren, most of whom are level 80 Night Elves.

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Primal Curve
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quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
My husband looked at it for a while at the store and was disappointed, but we haven't played it so not sure. We are starting a new campaign in a few weeks, and we will be using 3.0. We want to use the Rokugan campaign setting. That was one of our big concerns with the new version. We rarely use standard DnD settings and it will be a while before they have stuff out there. My husband's favorite setting is Ravenloft, our friend is really into Eberron and my favorite is Rokugan (Oriental Adventures). I could be wrong, but I don't think those will be among the first ones they put out.

Do you have the Dragon Magazine that updated Oriental Adventures to 3.5?
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scholarette
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We found an update online- I assume that was the Dragon Magazine one. But the changes don't seem that big between the two anyway, so not that hard to update.
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Sterling
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I haven't played it, but what I'm hearing suggests I wouldn't enjoy it very much. I can play a MMORPG if I want to play an MMORPG; otherwise, I don't want to play guinea pig to Wizards' desire to rebrand their franchise into multimedia.
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TheGrimace
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P.S. is there anyone else out there (like me) who never really transitioned off 2nd edition into 3rd? My group has dabbled a bit in 3/3.5 but is still generally playing 2nd edition, and so 4th is even more of a rude awakening to me.
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AvidReader
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quote:
6) Which is the next observation: in 3E, it was possible to run non-combat games, since you had non-combat skills and non-combat powers. 4E, like First Edition, is all about the battles. Even healing has been retrofitted so that it mostly happens during the battles now.
The DMG actually makes a pretty big deal out of idenifying your players' style and customizing your encounters to match. Chapter 5 is called Noncombat Encounters and deals with skills, puzzles, traps, and hazards. Social issues are covered with the skills.

I feel like they White Wolfed the skill checks. You need a certain number of successful rolls in order to pass. If you get too many failures, you blow it. Much nicer than the old flat-DC system.

While they added all kinds of useful ways for healers to fight and heal at the same time, most healing will still take place during down time. You get one healing surge during combat, certain powers let you use more, and the rest have to wait for when you rest.

We haven't run anything yet, but reading the rules, 4e strikes me as doing away with a lot of the clumsiness of 3.5. I'm just wondering how long it will stay balanced before I'm back on the "new book, up the power curve" treadmill. I won't miss 3.5 any. I'm sure there will be plenty of things to annoy me about the new system once I've played it a while, but it definitely cures the things I hate now.

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MightyCow
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If anyone wants to stick with 3.5 but add some of the per-encounter abilities, I've been playing a Sword Sage from the Book of Nine Swords supplement:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=products/dndacc/953787200

Kind of a fun class, very customizable. You could easily have 3 or 4 BoNS characters in a party and have little overlap in their abilities. They're generally attack/tank classes, but have a lot of different sword skills, which they can re-use each encounter.

Another player in our campaign is playing a Dragon Shaman from PHB II, which has multiple auras and unlimited breath weapon use (with short breaks between uses)

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/cwc/20060822a

Another interesting class to try out.

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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I'm getting the feeling that while 4.0 will be fairly fun to play, It won't have the storytelling value of the previous edition, making the games rather unmemorable. I would feel no desire to read over the archives again after the fact (Assuming an archived game). I might be wrong, though.
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Itsame
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TheGrimace, my friends played 3rd and I played with them occasionally, but I still never got past 2nd.
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Dan_Frank
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I agree with most of what Tom said.. although I think humans look more underpowered than they are. Because of changes to skills, saves, and the very nature of attack rolls, it's much, much, much, much easier to make a character not even remotely MAD. For many, many class/race combinations the second stat bonus is utterly irrelevant, much moreso than I originally anticipated. So only getting +2 to a single stat, but getting a host of extra little bonuses, actually seems pretty good.

Example: A purely Infernal warlock pretty much just needs constitution. And more constitution. Maybe some more constitution. With a dash of intelligence. And also constitution.

So, there is no Con/Int race. So your best bets are dwarf, half elf, or human. And frankly, if you're strictly infernal you just don't need wisdom or charisma. At all. They amount to +1 will defense more than anything, and that's something humans already get. So suddenly, all those extra human bonuses start looking alright.

Certainly, for many class choices, there will be an obvious race that plays perfectly into them (Dragonborn Paladin, anyone?), but it's not always the case.

Anyway that was a long tangent on a minor issue.

At first look, 4th edition appears to be a pen & paper MMORPG. Which was really, really disappointing. I wasn't expecting much, but they still managed to severely disappoint me.

However, upon actually playing it I found it flowed surprisingly well, and was way more fun than I wanted it to be. I kept actively trying to dislike it, but getting drawn into the game. I've been DMing a pretty light game so far, with a couple of newbie friends from work. I haven't had a chance to get together with my real gaming group yet. Since the game seems in some ways to be sort of designed towards newbies, this may be why we were having so much fun.

Overall, some of my main impressions...

1) Casters nerfed all to heck. Finally. We may both be crazy right wing libertarians, but I totally disagree with Pix that this is a bad thing. Casters have been silly overpowered throughout every iteration and splatbook of 3rd. They finally found a way to reign them in, by making their attack spells on the same level with every other classes' special attack abilities. Though this was, in a way, taken straight out of World of Warcraft, it actually works reasonably well.

2) Rituals. They don't list many in the core book, and even some that they do are absurd (Raise Dead comes about twelve levels before Scrying? And has fewer risks than Cure Disease? Dying may suck, but it's not necessary to make it that easy to come back). But the concept is, I think, wonderful. They've stripped away the utility of the spellcasters, which more than save-or-lose spells or nukes is what made them so utterly beyond what anyone else could do. And, after stripping it away, they gave it back. To everyone.

Because, though wizards have some clear advantages, in theory anyone can work a ritual, if they just take the time to learn how. This is great! I love it! I really think they have a great idea here, despite some missteps in implementation.

3) Healing surges suck. I get their intended goal. And I actually like that every healing mechanic in the game works off of them. But the fact of the matter is that, in the span of a day, you can go from 1 hit point back up to full anywhere from once to three or four times, depending on your class. Without magical healing of any kind. And then, upon resting for 6 hours, heal to full again and regain all your surges.

Ugh. From a mechanics standpoint, it has been working alright. But it's just impossible to justify from a realism standpoint. I know, D&D has never been a bastion of simulationist realism, but previous iterations were much easier to abstract so that you could give the feel and flavor of realism. Nerfing magic and magical abilities was easy, and also helped with that. But healing surges are a core mechanic. And they make even vague abstractions of realism very difficult. This makes me sad. Chances are good, if I play 4th with my regular group, I'll tone surges down significantly, but I need to play it a lot more before I feel comfortable making such a significant houserule.

4) I've pretty much run out of steam. Man, those healing surges have my blood boiling. I'll probably come back and rattle off a few more later. Oh, skills! I miss fluffy irrelevant low-ranked skills, but I support some of the skill collapses (perception, for instance).

Anyway, bye for now.

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Bokonon
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Healing surges are no more problematic from a realism justification perspective than HP in general. I mean, You can be hacked at until you are at 1HP, and suffer no ill effects from that, but then someone pokes you with a twig and you are unconscious, or worse, bleeding out?

If you can justify HPs, then you can probably justify surges as second (and third and fourth) winds.

-Bok

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Enigmatic
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My impression of healing surges is that they're a pretty effective way to simulate injuries and recovery... as they work in action movies. Hero gets beaten bloody in one scene, is limping around and gasping for breath. Just as the badguy closes in hero finds the resolve to overcome his wounds and finish the badguy off. After a short "non-combat" scene wisecracking with the sidekick or flirting with the love interest, the hero is doing well and walking around on that broken leg just fine.

--Enigmatic

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Primal Curve
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Probably a more realistic way of portraying a healing surge would be if it had a cap of, say, 1/8 to 1/3 your total hit points. The only way to get above that would be magical healing or some kind of full-round healing check.
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twinky
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Then you wouldn't be able to get above your bloodied threshold (1/2 your HP, below which you take penalties, IIRC) using healing surges, which I think is part of the point of healing surges.
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Primal Curve
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Well, we're looking for realism. I would think someone who is grievously injured would have some penalties and I don't think it would be realistic if they were able to suddenly, in the middle of combat, have their wounds sew up. I think of the healing surge as more of an adrenaline surge that allows you to take more damage in the heat of combat, but still leaves you in a life threatening situation. I think of the healing surge as more of a way to prevent death rather that bring you back up to full ju-ju.
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Selran
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I think wanting D&D to deliver anything resembling realistic combat is a losing proposition.
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Primal Curve
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Mmmm... fatalism.

Perhaps realism is the wrong word? Perhaps the concept would be better explained as challenging, but fun with a reasonable suspension of disbelief.

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Selran
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Yes, finding the line between seasonable suspension of disbelief and silly is a good way to frame the discussion. I haven't made up my mind on healing surge yet.
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scholarette
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If the point is the narrative, to tell a story, having powerful healing is bad. It makes most actions meaningful- you aren't risking anything, because at most you'll suffer for a few hours, maybe a day. But with limited healing, the wounds matter, the reasons why you fight matter, negotiating an end to fighting matters. We recently played Elric (where combat is deadly and healing is very limited) and the high damage/ low healing very much changes the game. But if the point is a fun fighting game, easy healing makes sense because then you can just keep battling.
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Dan_Frank
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D&D can deliver (at least until really high levels, where you can get some silly things like barbarians getting their throats slit by commoners and taking little or no damage), not a realistic game, but a game in which it can be easy to suspend disbelief in the unrealistic. Simple flavor and description is often enough, especially if you have good players who participate in what you're trying to do. The player takes a lot of damage, you tell him he's suffered a seriously painful injury. Who cares if there are no mechanical penalties? Maybe adrenaline makes up for the pain. But after the fight, he's sure to bandage up the wounds (despite the fact that he gains no mechanical benefit from it).

The thing is, if he can literally go straight back up to full HP at the end of the fight, that's a little too much. There's not even any logic to describing pain, at that point.

However, with a day to think about healing surges, another thought has occurred to me. This is partly because there are several examples in which fatigue and disease and unhealthiness can cause you to lose healing surges.

Essentially, your healing surges are actually your characters health. Your current HP represent how much immediate trauma and shock your system can handle before it shuts down. So yeah, after the encounter, you use your surges and your HP is full again... but you're down three surges. You're still injured, you're just no longer in shock. It might be a stretch, but stretching things to make them seem realistic, without actually using simulationist systems, is something I'm pretty good at.

At this point, the only problem is that 6 hours of rest restores all surges and HP. We're back to the problem of healing too much, too fast. But this would be a much easier tweak, a much easier house-rule, than actually modifying the number of surges or how much they heal, since the game is (one hopes) balanced for those two mechanics. Chances are good I'll house-rule an extended rest (6 hours) into recovering just one healing surge, or perhaps a low fraction value to balance the high hp classes to the low ones. Say, 1/6 or maybe the much less elegant 1/7, so that a week (or a couple days of constant rest) could get one back up to 100% capacity.

Anyway, 4th is still growing on me. Whether it's like a tumor or some less malignant growth, I haven't yet decided.

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Selran
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First, I have a question for Dan_Frank. You've used the term simulationist a couple times. When you use this term, do you mean it in the GNS theory sense? If you don't know what GNS is the answer is probably no.

quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
If the point is the narrative, to tell a story, having powerful healing is bad. It makes most actions meaningful- you aren't risking anything, because at most you'll suffer for a few hours, maybe a day. But with limited healing, the wounds matter, the reasons why you fight matter, negotiating an end to fighting matters. We recently played Elric (where combat is deadly and healing is very limited) and the high damage/ low healing very much changes the game. But if the point is a fun fighting game, easy healing makes sense because then you can just keep battling.

Please forgive me for straying from the threads topic a bit here. But, if you like the style of play described above I would like to recommend my favorite Fantasy RPG, The Burning Wheel. The combat is deadly and has a realistic feel.* Whenever something goes to blows lives are on the line, no matter how powerful you are. It has a great system for social interactions. Lastly "playing your characters" engages the system in a concrete and meaningful way. That is a lot of what would be considered just flavor in other systems has actual mechanical significance. Being true to you characters personality isn't just good roleplaying, it's good mechanical play as well.

Edir: More BW info at their official site.

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scholarette
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Ooh- that looks interesting.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Selran:
First, I have a question for Dan_Frank. You've used the term simulationist a couple times. When you use this term, do you mean it in the GNS theory sense? If you don't know what GNS is the answer is probably no.

Vaguely yes, though I'm not a huge fan of the theory... I think that it is possible, and preferable, to blend the three together. Regardless, it's probably where I got the word from, as I can't think of any other time I've ever seen it used.

Ultimately, all I really want out of a game is the narrative. Nevertheless, it's extremely important for me to have a coherent, consistent way to resolve conflicts. I want a minimum of ad-hoc decisions and handwavium. This is, obviously, where the mechanics of the game come in. In theory, my ideal game would be one that allowed for strong narrative but contained very good simulationist rules.

The problem for me is, every single simulationist game I've ever seen tends to get very bogged down with the details that make it simulate so darned well. I don't usually have the time it takes to fully utilize such systems, and neither do my players.

Elegant, streamlined, easy to use rules and detailed, realistic simulation are opposite directions on the same line. My struggle has always been finding the system that best straddled the middle, because in my experience such systems invariably work best for me.

Believe it or not, I actually think that 3rd edition, or more accurately, the basic concept of d20, did that really well.

I know, you don't believe it. Nobody does. But the fact is that there is a huge number of things within the d20 system that are totally mutable. Because the core system is extremely elegant, consistent, and logical, it's very easy to tweak in any of a thousand ways, while retaining it's quick-and-easy-to-use nature.

I use the term "d20" very loosely. My current pet project is a classless, levelless system inspired vaguely by the old Pendragon system, by Chaosium (and republished by Green Knight). Definitely more simulationist than standard D&D. But as far as I'm concerned, at it's core, it's still d20.

PS: You can call me Dan. Don't feel that you need to respond to my full screen name, underscore and all. If "Dan" hadn't been taken, I'd have just done that.

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Dan_Frank
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PPS: Burning Wheel sounds interesting, but I'll admit I'm skeptical. Any way to review the basic rules and concepts without coughing up thirty bucks?
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Samprimary
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Tom, I dunno about your list there. I'll touch on a few of them.

1. humans are not underpowered.

2. dragonborn are not overpowered.

4. The eldarin are an elf nerf, plain and simple. They took the bonuses that elves had and split them between two separate races, forcing the players to choose between a magical super-fantasy fairyworld elf and a Legolas foreststrider death-by-arrows elf. They called the fancy fey elves 'eladrin' to help them with their goal of making it so that no longer was D&D a game where most of everybody's party was elves.

6. It's way way way way way better than you think. 4e has !improved! the roleplay issues of the system greatly because the system no longer makes it so that you have to pick certain classes to be 'good at roleplay numbers' — your class is about how you fight, period. It has limited pertinence to your character's social abilities to the extent that it does not immodestly constrain your capacity for social skills.

In 3e it was pretty much impossible numbers-wise in the system to be a socially adept fighter or wizard; the gamut of of social/world skills (bluff, diplomacy, gather information, intimidate, perform, sense motive, etc) were mechanically inaccessible to you and you didn't have a lot of skill points to go around anyway.

In 4e, any class can easily accomplish a satisfactory proficiency in the remaindered and restructured social skills (insight, diplomacy, etc) with a moderate expenditure. It's more of a tabula rasa. ANY class can be a social class. That's good, because it pulls more of the roleplay out of the artificial constraints of a class system and puts it in the hands of DM's and players. It's way better. I know a lot of people who would make 3e Rogues or Bards specifically to be 'good at roleplay' and in the process have to sacrifice combat utility to some extent (sometimes great, when a bard/rogue plunks all their skill points into the out of combat world skills like forgery and appraisal, etc). that's over and done with. good riddance.

7. Rogues are not nerfed. Rogues will expletive you up. Their abilities are wicked. The reduction in the percentage of damage a rogue expects sneak attack to account for in a given fight is a GOOD thing for rogues; they no longer have to spend 90% of their combat existence dependent upon flanking/surprise for 'sufficient' damage output.

10. Limitations on at-will powers is a significant part of the advantage humans have.

14. healing surges are an evident attempt to cure D&D of its Bucket-O'-Hit-Points paradigm and so far in testing it seems to have worked magnificently.

17. Multiclassing is not going to be pointless. More people are going to multiclass and it actually makes a lot of interclass builds viable where they were not before. This is especially important considering that multiclassing was a joke in 3e, a utility (read: exploit) that was only available to some classes and not to others. Now, practically anyone who wants to gain training an off-class skill is likely to multiclass, and the advantage of multiclassing is strictly limited to assure that it's not just an advantage available to some classes and that it has no huge disparity in what benefits it provides to which classes, etc.

Lastly:

Will 4e replace 3e?

Yes, and fast.

Fourth edition is better. It is still not everybody's thing and I will be sure to reiterate that. It is not as good as it could have been (though by how much is an esoteric matter, really) and it has not been released as a full product, but once it's actually really out as a finished product it is going to be a staple of roleplaying dens and will take the throne as the tabletop standard, replacing 3e as completely as 3e replaced 2e.

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TomDavidson
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*winks at Samp* You a playtester? [Wink]
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Selran
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
PPS: Burning Wheel sounds interesting, but I'll admit I'm skeptical. Any way to review the basic rules and concepts without coughing up thirty bucks?

There are some sample chapters up on the BW sight.

Chaper 1 goes over the basics of the game. Beliefs, Instinct and Traits (BITS) are discussed here, but not gone into detail. BITS ans how they interact with the system are one of the things I was raving about.

The Duel of Wits, the social mechanic I mentioned is on line too.

Unfortunately, the combat system isn't. I should clarify something. When I said realistic I meant a single sword or arrow strike will do serious, possibly fatal damage. I did not mean it accurately models tissue damage and detailed fencing styles. Another cool thing it does is eliminate the I go You go turn system and the unrealistic tactical thinking that can cause.

Everybody secretly records three rounds of actions and then plays them out. You then play them out. An action may good against one thing but poor against another. This simulates the chaos of battle and makes combat a very serious thing. One false move can be devastating. Again, combat has a realistic feel.

The Have Games, Will Travel podcast has a good discussion of BW in Episode 78.

Edit: One more random cool bit from BW. Orcs have a stat called Hatred.

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Samprimary
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quote:
You a playtester?
Naw, if I were a playtester I could have gotten them to avoid simple mistakes, like clarifying that Dilettante is to be limited to level 1 at-will attacks and that Cleave must be used on an adjacent target that is *not* the target you just attacked, among other things.

But I've already looked over and tested out the game system pretty good because we totally just torrented the PDF files the day they were leaked.

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scholarette
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Thanks Selran! Hopefully I'll get a chance to read those this weekend. [Smile]
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Dan_Frank
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Thanks for the link Selran. I've finished looking it over, and... eh.

It looks fine. At least upon my initial reading, I'm not sure what about it has caught your fancy so deeply. It seems to be a basic dice-pool system. I don't mind dice pool systems, per se, but they're not really my favorite either. Whenever I see a system which has stats and then half a dozen special stats ("attributes" in BW) that are derived through some particular mathematical formula, I sigh a little. I'd certainly play a round of BW if that was what my group wanted to do, but at a glance it just feels very... amateurish.

I'm not trying to be insulting, and I apologize if you took that badly. But, over the years I've come to hate systems with a variety of semi-arbitrary systems for calculating abilities. I've made enough casual, amateur RP systems myself that if all I'm getting is a new set of rules that feel just as cobbled together as my own, I don't usually get too enticed.

Sorry for being so negative! I'll see if I can't find a friend that's got a copy of this book somewhere. Chances are good one of my group will. Maybe in practice it'll blow my freakin' mind, who knows?

Samp, I think you're exactly what this thread needs. Initially, I was heavily against 4e. As I've looked over the rules, and run a game (yeah, I got my hands on the leak as well, so we've been playing it for a few weeks now), certain elements I hated have seemed alright. Initially, I felt that this guy was right, and that the game has become a lot of disassociated mechanics that don't very well reflect any logical actions that could be taken by the characters. In practice, it flows much better than I expected.

But I'm clearly still straddling the fence much more than you are. Care to elaborate on a few of your remarks, regarding why you think 4e is so much better?

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Eduardo_Sauron
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Keeping it short:

I find it awesome.
It's a different game from 3.0 and 3.5, though.
The game design is very smart. You shouldn't fret over the druid, barbarian, bard, monk, etc. They will come in PHB II. Druid and Barbarian will have power source: Primal.
If you want to play one of the missing classes say...right now, it's very easy to come up with the new classes. See the link below for a sweet bard class up to 30th lvl.

linky to bard

I'd advice you to aproach the new system without prejudice, although it maybe nigh impossible to experienced players/DMs.
Anyway, if Wizards' goal was to make a game more beginner friendly, but still very enjoyable for established hobbysts, I think they were very successful.

(yeah, call me a fanboy, hehe)

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Selran
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Whenever I see a system which has stats and then half a dozen special stats ("attributes" in BW) that are derived through some particular mathematical formula, I sigh a little.

You mean like having a stat which you run through the formula (X-10)/2 round down to get a stat bonus and you never really use the original value for much else? I don't mind derived stats in BW because the base stats are used for things on their own and not just discarded after you get the derived values. That's just my opinion though.

At its core BW is a simple dice pool system. The beauty of it is how the various subsystems interact to deliver IMO a great experience. But, BW isn't for everybody, no game is. I do highly recommend checking it out though.

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Samprimary
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quote:
But I'm clearly still straddling the fence much more than you are. Care to elaborate on a few of your remarks, regarding why you think 4e is so much better?
prelude: the core point

Fourth edition is a significantly better game than third edition. It has not become an Omnisystem which draws in and incorporates the strengths of other systems and makes them part of D&D's strengths, but judged under a metric of how good of a D&D game it is, it is the best D&D game that has been released. What it improves, it improves to a magnitude equivalent to how much third edition improved second edition AD&D. It will completely eclipse third edition and replace it as the tabletop gaming standard.

episode one: a block of text where i will talk about comparing game mechanics between 3e and 4e okay

The more people play with the system, the more this will become evident. A few people won't recognize this until they've played a few games in 4e and then start looking at the character creation for 3e, noting the marked inferiority of the classes, levels, and combat system. First level characters in 4e make fifth level characters in 3e look bland by comparison, and less fun to play. I compared an old ranger to a new ranger. The new ranger: acrobatic and highly mobile, moving around the battlefield to tactical positions while adeptly striking foes in range. At level one, already has a choice of seven or so tactical choices to make in combat. The old ranger: Bland. Damage McHitpoints, getting practically nothing for a few levels, then abruptly doubling their combat effectiveness at level 6, then a few more levels of nothing, whose most important technique in combat is "do not move, so you can attack more than once a round," similar to many other classes. At level one, can make the same attack each and every round, and can get gibbed by a random level one goblin minion's critical.

I compared group dynamics between the two systems. Entirely dependent on magical healing. How long the characters can remain in combat is determined by how many potions they can drink and how many spells the Obligatory Cleric Or Druid In Group reserves for replenishing the group's hitpoints. In addition, the willingness of people to play a character for the sake of a concept is limited by their mechanical knowledge of the game system. Some of the classes started out stronger than the other classes and were eventually eclipsed totally (Fighter), some had to suck for a while then become better than all other classes (Wizard). This is piss-poor balance, the result of the inability of the vancian magic system to be balanced with the level-based combat mechanics. Every time you have your group of heroes making characters, you don't want them to wonder these skinnerbox things like "if we aren't going to get very far I should pick a fighter, but if it's a big campaign I should be a cleric or a wizard so I'm not totally overshadowed after we hit the teens" — classes should not be throwaway early potency 'versus' delayed gratification.

Bing. All fixed. The classes are mechanically playtested against each other to have comparative effectiveness in their comparative roles at comparative levels. Part of this is due to the (necessary) death of the vancian spellcasting system.

Another necessary change was the loss of the old hitpoint system in favor of the more cinematic 'healing surges' system. Not only does it free the group from the MMO-ish dependence on mass magical healing infusion, it prevents the problems with people being buckets of hitpoints. Most importantly, it prevents serious issues with massive disparity in characters' hitpoints that eventually create absurd situations (exa: I am a dm playing third edition. I have three level 6 party members, a warrior, a barbarian, and a wizard. I have realized that at this current level, my party's warriors each have over 70 hit points, and my wizard has 16. In order to be a reasonable threat to the warrior or barbarian, the foes I am throwing at the party have to be powerful enough or numerous enough that I could expect them to instagib the wizard if they broached a forward line with numbers or even just targeted the wizard for one round. If even one of the baddies that this party must fight turns out to have a blast damage spell like fireball, they would logically try to hit the whole party with it, but I can't let them. If I let them, they will give the warriors a suntan and reduce the wizard to a heap of charred meat even if he makes his save. I am stuck having to choose between having the monsters (be they melee, ranged, or caster) predictably attack the head of the party phalanx and never make ranged or surprise attacks against the wizard, or I could fudge the numerous easy hits they will make against AC 14 just to keep the wizard artificially, you know, alive, or I could just let him die, or I could make the party only fight a sufficient number of slow dumb melee characters ...)

The combat mechanics have been improved greatly in ways I can only begin to count and list, but the new system has many mechanical solutions to 3e abuses by strictly limiting your strong maneuver use during fights. Longtime D&D players will give thanks that trip rule exploiters no longer rule the battlefield with an iron chain and/or whip. You can still pull those fancy maneuvers, caveat being that they're encounter or daily use-limited. Minmaxing won't go as far as it used to, something that's been helped largely by getting rid of the whole 'trade two points in X stat for two points in Y stat' paradigm, which I blame for the legions of Dump Stat Dwarves running around with abysmal charisma scores. They got rid of rolling for hitpoints, which fixed a lot of the disparities in the benefit of constitution scores. They fixed many relative stat importance issues by making the defenses a 'best of' appropriation from two stats. They trimmed down classes and, so far as of yet, have no class which lacks appreciable uniqueness in gameplay. Third edition combat trained players to mostly remain fixed in place so as to not lose the benefit of multiple attacks/round; fourth edition integrates battlefield control and motion into attack powers. Wizards no longer run out of spells and spend the rest of the day plunking away with their Backup Spellbook™ (a heavy crossbow). I could go on but already most of you are amazed at the length of this ridiculous choking block of words so we move on to

episode two: how D&D has improved roleplay by destressing its social device mechanics: a paradigmatic foray into roleplay rules and professions vis a vis conceptual character constraint, alternate running title 'i use big words in my title'

This one is simple and has been touched upon earlier. This addresses the concern people have about how D&D seems to have 'abandoned' social and roleplaying elements by making the classes nearly entirely focused on combat mechanics. The reason why I think this is an improvement is that it has made social/world proficiency pretty much accessible to all classes. You have to spend a couple of feats, if at all, and this is hardly an unacceptable expenditure.

Your class has a stricter role now. Your class is about how you fight. That's it. It determines what you bring to a fight. Everything else is essentially up to the player, with a much more consolidated and minimalistic approach to determining via rolls whether someone sounds sincere or convincing or is able to get the baron to give them a loan or not kill them or whatever. It leaves mostly at your (and the dm's) discretion what your character and personality traits.

Like I had mentioned, in 3e it was pretty much impossible numbers-wise in the system to be a socially adept fighter or wizard; the gamut of social/world skills (bluff, diplomacy, gather information, intimidate, perform, sense motive, etc) were mostly mechanically inaccessible to you and you didn't have a lot of skill points to go around anyway. Part of this was the severe, nominally impassible, and obnoxious cross-class skills system at work.

In 4e, any class can easily accomplish a satisfactory proficiency in the remaindered and restructured social skills (insight, diplomacy, etc) with a moderate expenditure. It's more of a tabula rasa. ANY class can be a social class.

That's good, because it pulls more of the roleplay out of the artificial constraints of a class system and puts it in the hands of DM's and players. It's way better.

It isn't ever going to be like a white wolf system where you had to determine every aspect of your social proficiency with mandatory point-buy portions. It's especially not like white wolf in that you are not making an explicit choice between spending points in combat prowess and social prowess. That's okay by me, especially given the open-ended nature of the D&D thematic realm. Limiting the system to describing the combat functions and capacities of a given character class works better and players do not feel like they have to gimp themselves V:TM style in order to excel at social graces.

episode three: lucas covers the continuity issues by hastily deciding that C-3P0 had his memory erased, also sam discusses what is not presently right with D&D fourth edition

It's not out yet. It does not meet conditions that allow me to declare it 'a finished product, which is out the door.' Right now it is 'a non-finished product, whose first installments have been sold as a not exactly complete collection, with the hopes that you will buy the rest of it when it comes out.'

I cannot judge fourth edition in its entirety because it is, at present, lacking some things. The PHB is incomplete and does not contain all the core classes. They will be hastily dropped in and will include barbarian, bard, druid, monk, etc. Eventually the people who were smart enough to not buy the two halves of the PHB will be rewarded with the complete PHB, which I am already derisively calling D&D 4.5 edition. The real and complete DMG will also include a real selection of epic destinies, a real selection of weapon specializations, and an expanded feat list which will provide the extent of the much-vaunted racial differentiation that wizards claimed 4e would have.

Same thing with the DMG, which will include much more than just "DM'ing and You! For New Players Edition" and will also include world and planar information, setting variations, and other good stuff.

And the Monster's Manual 4.5 will include a bunch of conspicuously absent monsters, including but not limited to the metallic dragons (bad idea to leave them out, by the by, when that's the species tree of one of the pc gods).

Also, the points of light setting will actually exist and not be an apocryphal concept loosely touched upon in the racial basics.

But then, once it's actually fully completed, it'll surely be the tabletop gaming standard.

Probably before then even. Because a lot of us will not wait to buy the incomplete books and will enjoy the system just the same until the complete books are released and we're going 'heyy, I already bought both halves of this book, and now I have to buy the better compilation complete book' but we will buy those books anyway like we were intended to and WotC will make hats out of money and invite people over for fantastic parties. On yachts. While releasing more books.

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Omega M.
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Dungeons & Dragons always seems to me like it should be awesome, but the rules always turned out to be too vague in practice. Maybe I was just a bad player/dungeon master; in any case, people never seemed to let me talk.

Anybody else learn D&D through the Basic game (consisting of the red paperback Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, each with a picture of a warrior fighting a red dragon on the cover)? I recently found mine as I was going through some things in storage. I wonder if I'd find it fun today. It's pretty simple---this is the game with only seven races/classes (human fighter, human cleric, human magic-user, human thief, generic dwarf, generic elf, and generic halfling) and a relatively short list of spells---but at least this simplicity makes it hard to go too wrong in building your character.

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Selran
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quote:
Originally posted by Omega M.:

Anybody else learn D&D through the Basic game (consisting of the red paperback Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, each with a picture of a warrior fighting a red dragon on the cover)?

That was my introduction to D&D and RPGs in general. Looking back on it, was a really tight and functional system. It couldn't do a whole lot but what it did it did well. The later sets in the Basic line were not bad either.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Selran:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Whenever I see a system which has stats and then half a dozen special stats ("attributes" in BW) that are derived through some particular mathematical formula, I sigh a little.

You mean like having a stat which you run through the formula (X-10)/2 round down to get a stat bonus and you never really use the original value for much else?
Oh, I see what you did there! Cause that's the formula D&D 3rd (and 4th) uses!

And you're right, they do. And I don't have BW's actual rules to compare it to. So I'll pick another system that has a small group of stats which are used to derive other values. I mentioned it in an earlier post: Chaosium's (or Green Knight's) Pendragon. It's a system for playing knights in Arthurian Britain, essentially. It's very much a niche setting, but I enjoyed the original nevertheless (never actually played the Green Knight version).

The thing is, in Pendragon, every derived stat uses its own little formula. Is BW like that? By contrast, though there is a specific formula for ability bonuses, 3rd, and 4th, edition D&D both have very consistent systems largely devoid of arcane mathematics. I like consistent systems because it is easier to fully comprehend the way the rules function, and therefore accurately predict the ramifications for changing said rules. I like house rules, but I hate house rules than unbalance things in unexpected ways. I know d20 well enough that I can usually predict whether or not my house rule will unbalance things, and then by how much.

Once again, I'm not writing BW off out of hand. It does sound interesting. I'll be back home in a month or so, and able to get with my group again, and I'll look into borrowing a copy from someone, or getting one secondhand.

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Dan_Frank
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Samp,

Dang. That's the best argument in favor of 4th I've seen yet. I'm going to make sure to share it with my group, most of whom are on the fence along with me.

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Eduardo_Sauron
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I'd like to share this link to an enworld (a D&D portal) about 4th edition. Very informative about the new system's strenghts and flaws.
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Selran
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Dan,

You saw right through me. [Smile]

My BW books are all out on loan, so I can't check to be sure. I think the attributes are determined by a simple average of the contributing stats. The exception to this is Steel and your race's emotional attribute. Those two are based on your background. Thy have a questionnaire where each yes answer gives you a point.

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Tinros
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quote:
Originally posted by Omega M.:
Dungeons & Dragons always seems to me like it should be awesome, but the rules always turned out to be too vague in practice. Maybe I was just a bad player/dungeon master; in any case, people never seemed to let me talk.

Anybody else learn D&D through the Basic game (consisting of the red paperback Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, each with a picture of a warrior fighting a red dragon on the cover)? I recently found mine as I was going through some things in storage. I wonder if I'd find it fun today. It's pretty simple---this is the game with only seven races/classes (human fighter, human cleric, human magic-user, human thief, generic dwarf, generic elf, and generic halfling) and a relatively short list of spells---but at least this simplicity makes it hard to go too wrong in building your character.

This is still the only version my best friend and her family use. I played with them once, it was a LOT of fun, so much so that I bought my first set of dice today. I looked at the 4e books, but I'm going to wait a while before buying them, and read more reviews. My experience with D&D comes from Neverwinter Nights and NWN2.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Selran:
Dan,

You saw right through me. [Smile]

My BW books are all out on loan, so I can't check to be sure. I think the attributes are determined by a simple average of the contributing stats. The exception to this is Steel and your race's emotional attribute. Those two are based on your background. Thy have a questionnaire where each yes answer gives you a point.

That's not so bad. And a questionnaire to determine stats amuses me. I'd like to see it.
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