Sunday, June 08, 2008

4e First Impressions

Again, Tiefling PC's?!?!? I just don't know how I feel about that. Hmmm... Overall, the system feels a little barebones compared to 3.5. But, I suppose that just leaves WotC lots of room to issue more rulebooks, right? More spells, I think, are going to be badly needed. On the whole though, it looks interesting, so we'll see. Just a lot less complexity in the system, and a lot less detail in the core books--especially the DMG.

I'm also not sure how I feel about the "Warlord" class. It basically takes the combat role of a bard (i.e. inspiration) , since bards aren't one of the core classes, and combines it with the fighter/paladin melee powers. Seems a little much.

The books themselves are--at first glance--the same quality as previous editions. At. First. Glance. The covers are the same high-quality abuse absorbing covers we've come to expect from D&D books, but the interior pages are of an inferior paper stock than that used in 3e, or at least so it seems to me.

13 comments:

Degolar said...

I haven't read a thing, but I was flipping through Nate's PHB at the game last night. No Bards, Druids, or Gnomes jumped out at me immediately. More "monster" races for PCs. Epic levels built into the core rules. Seems like they've taken out some of the romance and fun and replaced it with an emphasis on bad-ass-ness. Based on just a cursory glance. I'm less than thrilled.

k sime said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scott said...

(I made this comment under Kelly's account, so I reposted.)

I paged through the PH and DMG at Borders on Friday. Less than impressed. I really liked the DMG in general. I think it would be a boon to any DM. I loved the inclusion of Tharizdun in the core deities list (even though it's left out of the PH).

The illustrations aren't as nice as 3.5. I don't like the 'powers' system. I think the game, in general, is trying to be more mainstream. The renaming of Saving Throws with 'Defenses', and the addition of monster races. I might play 4e once or twice to try it, but I think I'll continue to like 3.5 much better.

Hadrian said...

One of the big pre-release criticisms of 4e was that it was "dumbing down" the game. I think, from what I've seen that there is some validity to that. On the other hand, the 3.5 core rules are pretty dense and hard to understand upon first reading. The 3.5 books make a lot of assumptions about what the reader already knows-- which is not necessarily a good thing. On the other hand, I can see that maybe 4e went too far the other way.

The DMG is good for what it offers, but it really seems to me to be more of a rehash of the DMG II from 3.5, rather than anything really original.

I too, dislike monstrous PC races, and it is odd that druids, especially, didn't get included in the core classes. (Monks though, I'm not sure monks should've been core to begin with). I do kind of like the daily powers and such. But, it wasn't necessary to overhaul the entire game system to give wizards unlimited magic missile and fighters cool low-level feats. I'm also afraid that the healing system is too simplified... though once again, on the other hand resting after every two-minute (game time) fight did seem a bit ridiculous.

I think they really overdid it in the simplification of the skills system-- if I'm reading it correctly, you're simply either trained or untrained, which really takes a lot of nuance out of things.

If, in the long run, we decide to stick with 3.5, I don't think that will be a problem, especially since Paizo has committed itself long term to supporting that system through Pathfinder. And frankly, I'm more impressed with Paizo's products right now than what WotC is putting out. I do think 3.5 needs some work, but Pathfinder (aka 3.75) may be fixing everything that needs fixed (and if not-- house rules!), so the question becomes, at least for me-- how much work should I put into a 4e campaign world? or should we just play the first module as a one-off sort of thing and see where it goes?

scott said...

I think it'd probably be smart to play a prepackaged 4e module, then judge everyone's reactions.

Hadrian said...

I think I've identified what it is that really bothers me about 4e. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still going to give it a try... but I'm not sure how much of one. The thing that bothers me is this: it's incomplete. In both the PHB, and the DMG there are references to future PHB's and DMG's, and the things that they will include, such as bards and druids and barbarians. I've already noted the paucity of spells and feats. Of course, there are more supplements to 3e and 3.5 than you can count, but the core books give you everything you need to run a pretty complex and in-depth game.

I'm beginning to view 4e in a pretty cynical light. It's one thing to release a new edition because you need to sell more books. But releasing an incomplete game so you can sucker people into buying more and more books just to get what should have been included in the core is just wrong. All of the extra 3.5 books were truly supplemental, not the missing components of the core rules- and I'm beginning to think that's not the case with 4e.

Nathan McKinney said...

That's why god invented the PDF, that he should smite the greedy Wizards of the Coast with his mighty illegal downloads and piracy. Tis what serves them right I dare say.

I've always said, I'll buy the book if I truly need it. I have only bought the PHB so far.

I tend to agree, the depth of the new "easy" rules seems to have a trade off for shallow depth of gameplay. Suddenly, the unique individuals we create as characters, only have so many options and become very garden variety... not as special. I guess you could argue that the full depth will come with future books, but I can see already that the 3.5 core books had a complexity that made for more interesting game play. Sure some of the stuff has been tedious, but the reward has been interesting and unique characters.

Aerin said...

Well, first off, I curse you Hadrian, I preordered as soon as I saw your message and my preorder isn't due to ship until tomorrow!

Secondly, I do agree with the idea that dumbing down the rules too much is a bad thing...after a fashion. I tend to like games as a function of numbers, but more than any game, D&D is supposed to be more than numbers. I think 3.5 may have made us all a bit too number hungry. Compare 4e not to 3.5, but to 1st edition. With ELF as a class, they sparked a movement in tabletop gaming that has brought us this far. Maybe dumbing down the rules will turn out to be a good thing in play, letting the rules take a back seat to the story. I don't know, that's my tightly clutched hope...

As for 'monstrous' races, which stands out more a slender woman with small horns (tiefling) or a slightly greenish massive man with slightly protruding tusks (half orc) which were a standard element to 3.5 which, while we never tended to use much, I don't really recall many people being upset over.

Personally, I won't immediately miss the gnome, or the bard, they suck. Too short, too weak... Skill points for role playing skills always struck me as stupid and frankly...how often have we really used them? Bluff, diplomacy, intimdate, gather information...these all seem much better handled by role playing than dice rolls which left the bard, on paper, as severely weak in my opinion.

I'm, as always :P, against Scott on the powers thing. Unless they're grossly overpowered, I think something to help a fighter be more dynamic would be good. Run in, power attack for X, attack, done, rinse, repeat...the standard fighter seems to get boring fast due to a lack of options...all the feats in 3.5 seemed to create a long term goal that pigeon holed most fighters. 300+ feats and only about 20 of them get used, lot of work by excellent authors for no purpose.

I'll see how I feel about things once I read through the books, I'm hoping my own cynicism find itself vindicated against my hopes that this is going to be a good thing.

How about a 1 shot afternoon/night with a smattering of folks sometime in July/August to see how 4E tastes when used?

Tiger said...

Sounds good to me.

Also, gnomes are playable, just not in the PHB. There's a list of (easibly) playable races in the back of the monster manual.

Aerin said...

the list says 'easibly'? Man...I would have thought WotC would have run spell check before sending it to the printer...

Tiger said...

fuk yu

scott said...

I'd be amenable to a one-shot in July/August. I don't want to run it, though.

Hadrian said...

Well, I've already volunteered, and bought the first 4e module, so, I'll do it. We just need to figure out a date.