Anyone else find it funny/ironic that ...

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4E is branded as the anti-caster edition and everyone only wants to talk about the Martial classes even though there is only one Martial power source only the Fighter,Ranger,Rogue and Warlord are the classes who don't use any magic, every other class uses some kind of magic (even the Barbarian!) ?

As I love playing heroes who have some spellcasting flavor to them, I really loved 4E as it seemed to me that the number of those types of archetypes just grew immensely.
I haven't really heard it labelled as anti-caster all that much. I love the 4e Wizard to death. I love the Bladesinger. And I love my hybrid Binder. There, I said it.
I haven't really heard it labelled as anti-caster all that much. I love the 4e Wizard to death. I love the Bladesinger. And I love my hybrid Binder. There, I said it.



It's mostly "They gave non-at will abilites to non-casters ?" aka "If everybody's special nobody is"* but forget that that's what I'm saying 4e has so manny options to create heroes with supernatural abilities it's a joy.


It is only branded as such by 3.5e fanboys who can't bear the fact that their wizard isn't the complete centre of attention as before and now the spellcasters are reasonably balanced against the other classes.
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It is only branded as such by 3.5e fanboys who can't bear the fact that their wizard isn't the complete centre of attention as before and now the spellcasters are reasonably balanced against the other classes.



This.
It is only branded as such by 3.5e fanboys who can't bear the fact that their wizard isn't the complete centre of attention as before and now the spellcasters are reasonably balanced against the other classes.



This.



Lots of this.
although I haven't met anyone in real life with the kind of attitude I see online, I agree that the above is a widespread problem online.
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although I haven't met anyone in real life with the kind of attitude I see online, I agree that the above is a widespread problem online.



Yeah. I have some  friends who have some pretty negative views on 4e, but I've never seen the 4e is anti-caster sentiment in real life.

Its probably because its a  very hard point to argue in their favor, especially as 4e grew.

The martial classes were typically the better designed classes in their respective roles in the PHB1, nowhere near the disparity of the pre-4e classes were, but they were none the less. I think this is less designer intent, and more just how the martial classes tend to be raw effectiveness, while the more magicy classes tried to do fancier things and make more nods to the past that simply weren't executed well.  
4E is branded as the anti-caster edition and everyone only wants to talk about the Martial classes even though there is only one Martial power source only the Fighter,Ranger,Rogue and Warlord are the classes who don't use any magic, every other class uses some kind of magic (even the Barbarian!) ?

As I love playing heroes who have some spellcasting flavor to them, I really loved 4E as it seemed to me that the number of those types of archetypes just grew immensely.

It's the anti-caster edition not because it didn't give you plenty of viable caster archetypes to play, but because those archetypes weren't superior enough relative to martial.

(Mind you, the martial source /was/ inferior to the Divine, Arcane, Primal and Psionic sources, even in 4e.  Just look at the roles each source could fill:  Martial had no Controller class, the others did.  Even when Essentials added the "Hunter" is was a Primal/Martial mixed-Source sub-class.)

You could play more caster and no-caster-supernatural classes in 4e than in any classic D&D edition.  And, while 3e offered hundreds of classes (only a handful of them entirey martial), the top optimization tiers (containing the really viable classes) were not that heavily populated.


For myself, I found the 4e Wizard much more engaging to play outside of the mid-heroic levels than any prior take on the class.  Much less over-powered, of course, but much more interesting.

 

 

 

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The martial classes were typically the better designed classes in their respective roles in the PHB1, nowhere near the disparity of the pre-4e classes were, but they were none the less. I think this is less designer intent, and more just how the martial classes tend to be raw effectiveness, while the more magicy classes tried to do fancier things and make more nods to the past that simply weren't executed well. 



Hmm, I never looked into it so much, you might be corect.


It's the anti-caster edition not because it didn't give you plenty of viable caster archetypes to play, but because those archetypes weren't superior enough relative to martial.

(Mind you, the martial source /was/ inferior to the Divine, Arcane, Primal and Psionic sources, even in 4e.  Just look at the roles each source could fill:  Martial had no Controller class, the others did.  Even when Essentials added the "Hunter" is was a Primal/Martial mixed-Source sub-class.)

You could play more caster and no-caster-supernatural classes in 4e than in any classic D&D edition.  And, while 3e offered hundreds of classes (only a handful of them entirey martial), the top optimization tiers (containing the really viable classes) were not that heavily populated.


For myself, I found the 4e Wizard much more engaging to play outside of the mid-heroic levels than any prior take on the class.  Much less over-powered, of course, but much more interesting.

 




The lack of  a Martial controller was kind of a missed opportunity, but it wasn't the end of the world to me, I know 4E had some very meager #PP support did anyone put out a Martial controller?

Yes I agree with the bold especially  that's why I find it funny.


Given that defender = melee controller, the fighter fills the martial controller bracket quite adequately  It is definitely a much better 'controller' than the hunter.
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I can understand the anti-caster edition thing.  One aspect of D&D high fantasy conceptually was that in whatever world you where playing in, Wizards where usually the powerful, wise... the scary people who had unknown powers and carried with them great knowledge.  Think of it in terms of classic story's like the Dragonlance novels where Rastlin and Cameron where twin brothers, but Rastlin was the alpha dog because he had the power of magic... while Cameron was a mere soldier.  This sort of classic paradigm is really the defining aspect of D&D.  In a way you could say that Dungeons and Dragons could very well have been called Dungeons, Dragons and Wizards.  It would have been as appropriate if not more appropriate to describe D&D like that as it was before 4th edition.  4th edition sacraficed that tradition in the name of "gameplay balance" and that didn't sit very well with fans.   In particular given that D&D and role-playing games as a whole never really tried particular hard to be balanced, they more focused on creating a mystique with magic at its heart and center.

You could argue about the whole balance thing and the relevance of martial classes in a role-playing game and all that jazz, I personally don't have an opinion on it because as I see it, I can create a world where magic is not at the center and it would be just as fun.  But D&D had its tradition and in 4th edition it was compromised.  D&D fans didn't care for the change and hence the Anti-caster sentiment about 4th edition.

I do think that 4th edition COULD have tried harder at creating added books that brought back those traditions.  For example I would have been quite happy with a "Powerful Magic" book.. where the classes and the powers of magic are escalated as an option for players who want magic to be a higher power.  Hell that could have been cool on the flip side as well... a sort of "Conan Power" book where martial classes are put up on a pedastal or a "God book" about priests and clerics.  I think that was really in part the problem with 4th edition.  It was the edition that could not respond to fan complaints unlike 3rd edition where everything was possible because if Wizard didn't do it, some 3rd party did it for them.  There where lots of great books that illustrated non-magical world, epic magic worlds.. worlds in which magic worked differently.... You had a much wider variety in 3rd edition in that regard.  In 4th edition it was all of course possible but you kind of had to do it yourself because the official content really stuck to the strict format and to my knowledge their where few if any 3rd party publishers who tried to "change" the dynamic of 4th edition system of balance first.

This is why I think with NEXT's "modular" ideology has  real shot at success with D&D fans, some of these things can be made possible assuming Wizards is not going to be so terribly attached to the concept of balance and equality.

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I can understand the anti-caster edition thing.  One aspect of D&D high fantasy conceptually was that in whatever world you where playing in, Wizards where usually the powerful, wise... the scary people who had unknown powers and carried with them great knowledge.  Think of it in terms of classic story's like the Dragonlance novels where Rastlin and Cameron where twin brothers, but Rastlin was the alpha dog because he had the power of magic... while Cameron was a mere soldier.  This sort of classic paradigm is really the defining aspect of D&D.  In a way you could say that Dungeons and Dragons could very well have been called Dungeons, Dragons and Wizards.  It would have been as appropriate if not more appropriate to describe D&D like that as it was before 4th edition.  4th edition sacraficed that tradition in the name of "gameplay balance" and that didn't sit very well with fans.   In particular given that D&D and role-playing games as a whole never really tried particular hard to be balanced, they more focused on creating a mystique with magic at its heart and center.
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The problem with using Dragonlance to illustrate your point about the place of magic in High Fantasy is that Dragonlance is directly derived from D&D. Tracy and Laura Hickman conceived the Krynn as a D&D campaign world, and pitched it to TSR, who liked it and decided to publish a series of novels in conjunction with the release of the adventure modules. Of course Raistlin and Caramon follow the "traditional roles" of warrior and wizard in D&D, that was the environment in which they were conceived.

Most non-D&D derived fantasy fiction has the powerful, wise and scary wizard that you describe, but that wisdom and power usually come with a heavy price. While Raistlin, in the fiction, carried a heavy burden for his power, when that character was translated to role-playing stats, none of those burdens existed. Raistlin, in the game, did not become exhausted and start coughing blood after a couple of spells. That was a literary concession for dramatic effect in the novels.

Let's look at some other famous wizards, the ones that the D&D wizard was originally designed to emulate. Gandalf, for example. How many spells does Gandalf cast over the course of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings? Maybe ten? Gandalf's power is implied, but he has the wisdom to know that he cannot use that power without taking away the independence of the Free People of Middle Earth, lest they become reliant on his power to save them and they do not develop the strength to save themselves.

Merlin was powerful, but his magic was time consuming and exhausting. After casting the spell that altered Uther's appearance, he needed to rest for half a year. Merlin's "power" was his wisdom.

Allanon in the Shannara series could whip of bolts of magical fire, but too much would also require him to rest for years in the Druid Sleep in order to regain his power. Again, his "power" was his wisdom.

D&D, increasingly over the years, has removed the price from the power, culminating in 3.x, where there were virtually no restrictions on what wizards could achieve. Admittedly, 4E wizards also have no price for their power, but their power has been limited to bring it in line with everyone else. Thus, the balance of fantasy fiction has been restored. OD&D almost had this balance, where wizards had to carefully ration out how much magic they used lest they have none when they really needed it, but that balance also created the 5 minute workday.

It's strange. In the 3e era, I think most everyone* agreed that "the sweet spot" occurred during a period where martial characters were still good, casters weren't pathetic or campaign-bending, the DM had a decent selection of monsters & environmental threats to throw at the party, and PCs in general could take a beating and keep on swinging.

4e was designed to get rid of the low-level "Fighters are good, mages are terrible, and nobody has the skill numbers to overcome environmental threats yet" and the high-level "Fighters are only useful in specific situations, and mages are so versatile and potent the DM has to factor in all of their abilities while building an adventure." Also: make epic play not completely insane.

I guess a large portion of the D&D audience didn't realize they enjoyed the imbalance (and theoretical imbalance) of levels 1-3 and 9-30+. Personally, I think those wonky bits should have stayed in the past along with gender-based ability score restrictions, but whatever. I'm no longer the target audience, so my opinion is moot.

* Yeah, I hate that phrase too. I do recall hearing about this "sweet spot" very, very often on these boards, however. I guess a google search could help quanity this statement.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.


The martial classes were typically the better designed classes in their respective roles in the PHB1, nowhere near the disparity of the pre-4e classes were, but they were none the less. I think this is less designer intent, and more just how the martial classes tend to be raw effectiveness, while the more magicy classes tried to do fancier things and make more nods to the past that simply weren't executed well. 



Hmm, I never looked into it so much, you might be corect.




Well, for example, look at the original strikers of Rogue, Ranger, and Warlock.

The Rogue and Rangers features are mostly just raw bonuses to damage or defences. They have no power restrictions. The Ranger is the only martial "V" class, and unlike other V classes to start, the difference in stat purely comes down to weapon, and the alot of its powers work for either melee or ranged.

The warlock has fancey rules for curse, it gets flavourful bonuses for when its cursed targets die. Its at-wills are dictated by its pact (a bad decision that was carried over to its subclasses and expanded upon), as are its primary ability score. Its powers generally have stronger 2ndary effects and lack the punch the other classes do.  Instead of feats to make curse deal more damage, they had feats to make your pact boon better.

It  feels like they intended for stats to be distrubte more evenly and still be viable, but that failed. Every magic class in the PHB1, other than the wizard, has multiple primary ability scores.
  
At one point they said the cleric was supposed to be strength based weapon at-wills, with wisdom based implement spells for its encounter and daily powers. The change from this idea is likely why Wisdom clerics tended to dominate in early 4e, even though melee clerics did have  the great Righteous Brand.

The early 4e cleric also tries to be alot like its older versions but simply more balanced. You have alot of spells that simply don't heal or enable, but are more like controllery spells the wizard should have (which wotc eventually nerfed heavily for no good reason).  The clerics traditional role is healing, but Char-oppers of any edition will largely tell you that buffing and dealing more damage is typically better than healing. The warlord of course, was built all around the buffing/enabling aspect of the leader role, and isnt a shabby healer via utilities either.

I wouldn't be surprised if the paladin was also meant to follow this format originally, thus why there is the comical omission of the level 9 daily power for about a year of 4e. The strength paladin in general, felt very tacked on to a class that majorly favored Cha/Wis in its original incarnation. Divine Challenge was a 'spell' thus it had to take an action, whearas the  fighter could just mark anything he swung at. Also, people freaking out about the original version of Divine Challenge caused it to be restricted at the last second.


Multiple primary ability scores are not necessary bad in and of themselves, however it does mean they need more options available than Single primary ability classes.


The martial classes were less restricted by trying to emulate their historical 'baggage'.
Just a side note -- I did create a Martial Controller class that focused on Heavy Thrown Weapons.  The upsides were not hitting your allies with AoEs ever, relatively high defenses, and an accuracy buff.  The down side was obviously no zones and/or summons.  Handaxes were for sheer damage, Throwing Hammers for status effects, and Javelins for pushes, immobilization, and tons of range.

Roleplaying is for roleplaying.  The rules are for the game.

The lack of  a Martial controller was kind of a missed opportunity, but it wasn't the end of the world to me, I know 4E had some very meager #PP support did anyone put out a Martial controller?

Half a dozen complete classes, yes, and a lot of ideas.

Also, that the Monk could have been a 'martial' (he is a 'martial' artist) controller was an idea that got brought up now and then.

 

 

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All true MalakLightfoot, but I think their was more too the tradition than trying to mimic or capture fantasy from external sources.  D&D had its own traditions that where established by D&D and powerful mages where a big part of it and the only evidence you need is the reaction of the player base of the handling of magic in 4th edition.

I think in a way, 4th editions focus on balance would probobly been better recieved if the balance itself wasn't so uninspiringly stale.  I recall when I originally wrote my own review of 4th edition, I kept using very generic terms to describe the game as a whole because it was difficult to associate it with anything that inspired imagination.  I felt compelled to say things like "its mechanically functional and stable".  Which it is, I mean people can complain about 4th edition till they are blue in the face and make whatever comparisons they like but if you say its unbalanced or mechanically broken your just lashing out because this game is firmly both.  This was its strength, but ultimatly in a sense its weakness as well because that balance really came at the cost of connection to the concept of high fantasy as a narrative and imaginative thing which D&D had firmly established in a very specific way in previous editions. 

I think I would put it like this.  In Star Wars, the Force was firmly established with its myths, its history, its dangers and its many faults, it had its own mythical spirit if you will.  It was the narrative behind the power that really brought it to life but it could have been handled in a variety of ways, the way they chose became "The Star Wars Way".  Now imagine if in the next three Star Wars movie they change that narrative definition, they start calling it ESP and Telekenisis and re-define how it works.  As a concept it might still be cool if it had not already been established in previous movies, but for Star Wars fans it would be an outragous and unacceptable change because they have already accepted it in its original version.

To me this is what 4th edition kind of did with D&D magic.  Their was an established "way" it worked and for all its flaws and mechanical imbalances, D&D magic had its own narrative, its own sort of myth and spirit that was very identifiable.  In its own right, if it where not D&D, 4th edition as a system, as concept, as its own narrative mythical way of handling things like magic etc... would probobly be very widely accepted as a cool way to do fantasy, but as a D&D game, that caters to D&D fans, it was a massive departure from this sort of established way of thinking about how D&D "should be".

The sentiments like "anti-caster" edition I think are directly linked to this sort of changing of established concepts.  Its the equivilant of changing how the force works in Star Wars.  

So I agree with you that from a perspective of "magic" in external fantasy literture, magic is handled in many different ways, but their is a definitive "D&D" version of magic that was established over the course of nearly 30 years of games, D&D world driven story's and above all else in D&D fans personal games. 

It wasn't just magic, mythi and sacred cows either, their where strict mechanical concepts too that upset the standard of how D&D players saw D&D mechanics.  Things like healing surges for example where definitily high on many complaint lists because it bunked a lot of very long lived traditions about how people saw D&D.

Suffice to say, I think 4th edition would have been a lot more successful if it was designed to be a bit more dynamic.  If for example their was a "Alternative magic system" book that was available for players who liked it a more classic feel as an example.  I think this is why NEXT is so focused on the idea of modularity as its an attempt to make D&D more dynamic, so that various "ways" of running magic for example are possible. I think this is a good thing because I think D&D players would be happy to accept more variety, as long as the option to stick to tradition was available to them.

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If the only reason you have for keeping something around (particularly something as horrible as godcasters) is tradition, then you have no reason to keep it around.
The sentiments like "anti-caster" edition I think are directly linked to this sort of changing of established concepts.  Its the equivilant of changing how the force works in Star Wars.  

You mean, like from a mystical energy field to a collection of symboitic microorganisms?  ;P  (Except, really, the ways D&D changed were in the opposite direction, from something corny that didn't make any sense and undercut the sense of wonder to something that was a little less defined but less grating - on the grand scale of immersion-breaking silliness, midichlorians and spell memorization are pretty nearly adjacent).

"Changing established concepts" is a polite way of putting it.  It did abandon the concept that casters should be better than everyone else, taking thems down from tier 1.  But it did not really change concepts of what they were.  Clerics still got their  powers from deities, turned undead and healed.  Wizards still kept spellbooks and cast Sleep, Magic Missle & Fireball.  

They just weren't dominating the game anymore.


So I agree with you that from a perspective of "magic" in external fantasy literture, magic is handled in many different ways, but their is a definitive "D&D" version of magic that was established over the course of nearly 30 years of games, D&D world driven story's and above all else in D&D fans personal games.

Something can be around for a long time and still be in desperate need of reform.  Social and political issues too numerous, controversial and painful to mention should be familiar enough examples to all of us.  

 

 

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So I agree with you that from a perspective of "magic" in external fantasy literture, magic is handled in many different ways, but their is a definitive "D&D" version of magic that was established over the course of nearly 30 years of games, D&D world driven story's and above all else in D&D fans personal games.

Something can be around for a long time and still be in desperate need of reform.  Social and political issues too numerous, controversial and painful to mention should be familiar enough examples to all of us.  




Tony and I don't agree on a great many things (or we didn't used to, perhaps the imminent closure of 4E is bringing our viewpoints closer together), but I am 100% in agreement with Tony here.

"That's how it has always been done" is among the top of my list of worst reasons to do anything, right along with "Cause I said so" and "Just because." Even "Why not?" is a better reason, because it implies that the course of action is open to discussion.

All true MalakLightfoot, but I think their was more too the tradition than trying to mimic or capture fantasy from external sources.  D&D had its own traditions that where established by D&D and powerful mages where a big part of it and the only evidence you need is the reaction of the player base of the handling of magic in 4th edition.




Yes, there was more to it than trying to capture the feel of fantasy fiction. There were also empowerment issues. You had a bunch of eggheads and nerds designing and playing the game (I'm just as guilty of these labels as anyone else, no offense intended to any eggheads or nerds who might be reading this). The fact that you could be the smartest guy in the room and push around the strongest guy with ease had tons of appeal.

But I started playing because I wanted to emulate fantasy fiction. I wanted to be part of all those books that I read, and help create new stories. While having one powerful protagonist is fine in a work of fiction that mainly follows one character, it does not fly quite so well in a cooperative group setting. Mechanical balance is a tool to allow everyone to be an equal part of the story, and the only part that the rulebooks can enforce. Actual story balance is handled by the DMs and players, and outside of the purview of the rules of the game to enforce (the rulebook can only provide guidance in this instance).

4E is the first D&D that enforced the mechanical equality, and didn't rely on the DM to heavily houserule or handwave to make it happen.

I find it very pro-caster because of the divide between ritual spells and A/E/D/U/Cantrip spells.  Instead of having to spend memorization slots on stuff like Speak with Dead or Magic Circle I can cast those while still having all my combat/utility spells.  Feels like I can do more.
I find it very pro-caster because of the divide between ritual spells and A/E/D/U/Cantrip spells.  Instead of having to spend memorization slots on stuff like Speak with Dead or Magic Circle I can cast those while still having all my combat/utility spells.  Feels like I can do more.



Indeed I forgot to add this, magic heroes in 4e just have a better feel for me due to the A element, I can certainetly see that some preffer their magic shutting off and being recharged only after a day but after doing it the 4E way with some magic allways at the disposal of your mage, this is 100% my ideal form of magic.

AEDU does capture the flow of genre heroic abilities pretty well, magic or otherwise.  The hero has generic stand-bys that he uses when what he's doing isn't improtant the narrative other than to establish that he's doing something, he has signature moves that he uses often, but not constantly, and he has big-guns that he pulls out infrequently.  That last would probably be even better modeled with a more extreme mechanic than dailies - like one-use-only (once you've used such a power, pick a new one for the next story) or something like a Gamma World 'Alpha Mutation' deck...

 

 

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Wether or not D&D had a desperate need for reform is a matter of opinion, but I would disagree personally.  Ever since 1st edition the vision of D&D has been changing but its been a kind of strange curve of ever increasing complication without a clear goal in mind which I have always felt was both unescessary and undesirable, in particular in the technical workings of creating complex combat mechanics, but just general philosophy of design as a whole.  In a way the game even as early as 2nd edition had started to abandon many of the principles of what D&D was based on and while you might call these traditions, they where actually very consious decesions about what a D&D game actually was in the eyes of its creator. 

All versions of the game after 1st edition started changing the gamist philosophies on which D&D was based.  It wasn't nescessarly going the route of a simulation, in the sense that D&D has and continues to have a tremendous amount of abstraction , but in the same token it wasn't gamist because it had become far to mechanical, far too complex, and created way to many restrictions within the scope of a very firmly defined tactical combat game while at the same time abanding its core position of being an open "anything can happen" narrative experiance.  

Restritions on races and classes weren't just random restrictions placed on the game for no reason in 1st edition for example, they where their as part of a general philosophy that this was a game about man's manifest destiny.  Restrictions that could be lifted if the DM desired, but where added as a representation of firmly established fantasy world.  The philosophy changed because it was seen as an arcaic restriction but in more ways then one D&D has become less a game that is a reflection of fantasy world and more about creating increasingly wilder high fantasy combat mechanics to the point where their is a clear disconnect in its roots and foundations established by Gygax. In the pursuit of turning D&D into an almost board game like experiance where rules are the supreme focus and creativity is only ok within the confines of those rules instead of having a game world with defined restrictinos of power but otherwise entirely open ended.  

Player empowerment has refocused the game to the mechanical which coincidently wether you agree with it or not, was the biggest complaint about modern D&D and is actually the greatest restriction of them all.  Because while a level cap on a class was a restriction with a philosophy behind, defined rules on how very specific mechanically engineered combat effects work excluded the possibility of acting outside of it.  Now naturally good GM's and players could overcome these restrictions but it has become oddly "politically incorrect" to do so at a D&D table for a DM in particular.  To change the rules even when the DM guides of modern D&D still clearly state somewhere deeply buried in the book that the DM has the right to do so is a general no no at todays table. The paradigm shift has already taken place, the new philosophy has taken root at our tables.  In Gygax's vision of D&D the DM not only had the right to the change the rules, he was expected to and had the responsibility of doing so.  In modern games this philosophy has changed to "do it if its absolutly nescessary, but otherwise stick to the rules".  This is a far bigger restriction to creativity of both players and GM's then any class based level cap because you can change the mechanical rules of how a class works fairly easily, but you can't change the mentality of players who have adapted the "rules first" approach to role-playing that exists today.  

In my eyes their really where no issues with 1st edition D&D.  If you have no experiance with role-playing at all, this is by far and wide the simplest system to get into and for all of Wizards of the Coasts efforts to simplify and streamline D&D, the latest released version of D&D (4th edition) is without question the most complex edition of the game with the most rules of any prior edition.  Its just gone unoticed because role-players have become so rules focused they are accustomed to it.  No one seems to notice that any given class in 4th edition has hundreds of powers, countless mechanical choices.. each more binding and restrictive then the next.

This is however where the hobby is going as a whole and frankly its fine by me.  I personally have no bone to pick with modern design as it doesn't impact passed design at all.  Wizards of the Coast did a wonderful thing for its fan which righted all the wrongs in my eyes.  They reprinted and re-released 1st edition D&D.  They made it available to the next generation and allowed us old timers to get clean copies of the books to continue enjoing them as we always have. What they do in the next edition of D&D really has no bearing on that, but from where I'm standing NEXT is still way to far of the tracks to capture my interest.  Its just another combat centric game which tries to define D&D as a game of mechanics rather than of creativity.




"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

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All true MalakLightfoot, but I think their was more too the tradition than trying to mimic or capture fantasy from external sources.  D&D had its own traditions that where established by D&D and powerful mages where a big part of it and the only evidence you need is the reaction of the player base of the handling of magic in 4th edition.




Yes, there was more to it than trying to capture the feel of fantasy fiction. There were also empowerment issues. You had a bunch of eggheads and nerds designing and playing the game (I'm just as guilty of these labels as anyone else, no offense intended to any eggheads or nerds who might be reading this). The fact that you could be the smartest guy in the room and push around the strongest guy with ease had tons of appeal.

But I started playing because I wanted to emulate fantasy fiction. I wanted to be part of all those books that I read, and help create new stories. While having one powerful protagonist is fine in a work of fiction that mainly follows one character, it does not fly quite so well in a cooperative group setting. Mechanical balance is a tool to allow everyone to be an equal part of the story, and the only part that the rulebooks can enforce. Actual story balance is handled by the DMs and players, and outside of the purview of the rules of the game to enforce (the rulebook can only provide guidance in this instance).

4E is the first D&D that enforced the mechanical equality, and didn't rely on the DM to heavily houserule or handwave to make it happen.




Well this is the point I was trying to make.  The association of "equal parts in a story" is in modern gamers mind directly linked to "Equal parts in combat".  The two are seen as one and the same thing.  In no story I have ever read is their equality in anything.  Their are smart characters, dumb characters, strong characters, wise characters... their place in the story does not stem from power or equal contribution, but from their activities.  Sam and Frodor are "weak" characters by the standards of modern D&D mechanics, but they played the central role in the story (as a classic example).  In D&D terms this would simply be a matter of a DM ensuring that their is a story for them to be a big part of, mechanics play no part in that.  But if Sam and Frod where mechanically designed to play equal rolls as combatants, it would have been a very different story.  They might not have been afraid of a few goblins for example, easily slaying them with their mighty combat prowess.  They did not need to be equal contributors in battle scenes to have a strong narrative, they just needed a good story to be part of.  So mechanics are not a tool to give everyone equal parts in a story, they are tools to give everyone equal parts in combat which if fantasy lititure terms would derail almost every story ever written and make re-creating those storys impossible.

Take it as a challenge, name a story from liteture and explain to me how those characters could be possible in 4th edition D&D to make that story play out in D&D as it would in liteture.  Believe me, its impossible.  In modern  D&D all characters are powerful, fearless combatants.  They do not shy or fear anything, the conflict of a typical modern D&D character is resolved with confidence in their ability to overcome it, in most cases by drawing a sword and beating it sensless.

Many of the functions of original D&D where designed to allow literary works to come to life.  Restrictions on races/class.. randomly rolling stats to ensure a wide variety of character strengths and weakness... powerful magic.  All these things created the sense of reckognizable sense of strength and weakness.  When you entered a 1st edition D&D game you didn't know what role you would play, wether it would be a weak cowardly warrior with limited skill but perhaps lots of heart or a powerful mage destined for great power.  It was the GM's job to help you find an important role in the story, not the mechanics.

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

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4E is the first D&D that enforced the mechanical equality, and didn't rely on the DM to heavily houserule or handwave to make it happen.



Well this is the point I was trying to make.  The association of "equal parts in a story" is in modern gamers mind directly linked to "Equal parts in combat".  In no story I have ever read is their equality in anything.  

"Equal parts in a story" is a concession to D&D as a cooperative game, rather than as a story-simulator.  Gamers can maybe get behind each playing one of the X-Men (though that's not exactly a 'balanced group,' at least they're all supers), but one playing Superman while the others played Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and other minor characters?  Not so much.  

D&D, growing as it did out of wargames, has always put a lot of emphasis on combat, so that aspect is understandable enough.


Take it as a challenge, name a story from liteture and explain to me how those characters could be possible in 4th edition D&D to make that story play out in D&D as it would in liteture.

You could get closer than you might with other eds (because 4e models genre tropes better), but the dynamics of a cooperative game (or even 'cooperative storytelling) are different from those of fiction written by a single author.  That's a final hurdle that no game is going to clear (a simulation is theoretically possible, but would it be 'fun?').  What you can get, though, is a game experience that's faithful to the genre being emulated.

In modern  D&D all characters are powerful, fearless combatants.

Technically, D&D PCs have never checked morale - and most can be affected by Fear in some sense (earlier ed Paladins, for instance, could be immune to fear - 4e has a "fear" keyword, but I'm not aware of PC races or classes that are immune to it).  

They do not shy or fear anything, the conflict of a typical modern D&D character is resolved with confidence in their ability to overcome it, in most cases by drawing a sword and beating it sensless.

Nod.  If you want to get the results you get in genre - heroes consistently standing against terrible odds and prevailing - you have to hedge those terrible odds more than a little.  

Many of the functions of original D&D where designed to allow literary works to come to life.  Restrictions on races/class.. randomly rolling stats to ensure a wide variety of character strengths and weakness... powerful magic.

Were all radically at odds with genre.  In literaturee "Powerful magic" wasn't in the hands of protagonists, and wasn't in the form of dozens of fire-and-forget spells that ran the gamut from every source in myth, legend, literature, fantasy /and/ sci-fi, nor in the form of protagonists dripping with magic items.  Literary characters are not random assemblages of traits, but are carefully developed by the author.  

"Class" in the D&D sense doesn't really exist in literature, but racial stereotypes certainly do, so I'll spot you that one.

When you entered a 1st edition D&D game you didn't know what role you would play, wether it would be a weak cowardly warrior with limited skill but perhaps lots of heart or a powerful mage destined for great power.  It was the GM's job to help you find an important role in the story, not the mechanics.

True, 1e did fail to emulate genre, and the DM was free to try to fix it.

 

 

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Not sure I follow that last part, how did 1e fail to emulate genre?  1st edition rules were by design open to interpretation, in a sense, adjusting the game was a basic function and expectation of the GM.  GM's didn't fix things however, as there was nothing broken to fix, it was merely one GM's version of the game to act as a base to work from to be adapted to the setting, GM or player prefrence or whatever else the people using the system felt the need to try.

The most important aspect of a good role-playing system is to have the flexibility of being easily changed on every level.  I think off all the things that are done wrong in modern design, its the constrictive designs that make changes virtually impossible.  For example in 4th edition we had healing surges which where a fundemental aspect on which the core encounter balancing system worked, it assumed you used them, if you didn't you where screwed.

I think the core design of NEXT is much closer to the sort of Gygaxian philosophy of flexible game systems.  He might disagree with how classes and races are represented, but it would take very little effort to take NEXT and create 1st edition like racial or class limitations.  In a sense I think NEXT has spawned from constrictive design to more fluid designs which indicates to me at least that Wizards is finally starting to understand the difference between a game designer developing a game and a GM doing it.  Its the primary difference between 1st edition and every other edition of D&D.... with the exception of 1st edition, all future editions where developed by designers first, business men second and GM's a distant third. 

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/

Were all radically at odds with genre.  In literaturee "Powerful magic" wasn't in the hands of protagonists, and wasn't in the form of dozens of fire-and-forget spells that ran the gamut from every source in myth, legend, literature, fantasy /and/ sci-fi, nor in the form of protagonists dripping with magic items.  Literary characters are not random assemblages of traits, but are carefully developed by the author.  



I agree whole heartedly, but the "powerful magic", thing and all the other kind of overpowered concepts where not products of the of 1st edition D&D.  Those adjustments to the game where made in later versions of the game.  1st edition is quite down to earth, quite deadly.  Character attributes where generated randomly and their was a heavy reliance on roleplaying and each other as party members. Most of the time you would end up with missing elements, weaker spots in the parties makeup and so on. The odds where generally stacked against you and its what made the game both incredibly challenging but also directly leading players to roleplaying rather then anything else as only through role-playing did you have hope for success. 

Trying to fight your way through storys was the shortest route to death. You where usually out matched and a group that spent too much time fighting would not last long regardless of anything.  Every combat was always seen as "this could be it for me" and the sense of dread of finding yourself in an unexpected encounter was thrilling because you had that sense of danger and threat to your characters life.  1st edition had many insta death events and it was fairly common to have characters die very suddenly.  

More so things like resurrection came with a cost a high cost both economically and to the characters overall status.  Often bodies were not recoverable and so on.  There was definitly a sense of danger in 1st edition that has slowly diminished with each edition, by 4th edition it simply doesn't exist at all.

Most importantly however was that it was expected that the GM would represent this danger honestly without the "fluff saves" that have kind of been adapted in modern role-playing games which where ultimatly turned into save me mechanics like action points, healing surges etc..  The DMG in 1st edition spoke to many of the duties and expectations of a GM, wording that today is seen as "politically incorrect" if you will and not something you will see in a book ever again.  

There is of course the potential for characters becoming over powered in 1st edition, but this is the result of poor management of the game more than the system itself and can get out of hand just as easily in 1st edition as it can in 2nd, 3rd or 4th.  Maintenance of a game is a key component of being a GM in any game so thats really not much of an argument.  But if you ran 1st edition honestly, you would never have over powered character issues, or over powered magic issues.    






"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

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Not sure I follow that last part, how did 1e fail to emulate genre?

Whooo.... lotsa ways, where to start:

Vancian casting:  The Dying Earth is not the whole genre.
Magic items:  too many of 'em
Clerics - the 'healbot' is just as countrary to genre as it gets
Everyone who can walking around in armor all the time.  OK, the 80s Excalibur was like that, but nothing else.
Psionics
Monks
Ear seekers, rust monsters, etc
Vancian casting:  No mage in genre has that many spells, not even on the Dying Earth
Armor reducing hit chance instead of absorbing damage
Shields hardly reducing hit chance at all
One minute combat rounds

It would be easier to list the things D&D did well that helped capture the trickier aspects of genre:

hit points.

Were all radically at odds with genre.  In literaturee "Powerful magic" wasn't in the hands of protagonists, and wasn't in the form of dozens of fire-and-forget spells that ran the gamut from every source in myth, legend, literature, fantasy /and/ sci-fi, nor in the form of protagonists dripping with magic items.  Literary characters are not random assemblages of traits, but are carefully developed by the author.  

I agree whole heartedly, but the "powerful magic", thing and all the other kind of overpowered concepts where not products of the of 1st edition D&D.  Those adjustments to the game where made in later versions of the game.

Sleep was powerful magic in the literary sense.  Invisibility, ESP, Fly, Web, were all spells that any antagonist of Conan would be lucky to have /one/ of.  Later editions actually reigned in some spells.  Sleep got a save for instance.  

1e at least had very low save DCs at very high level, so there was a check on some magic.  Not the Power Words or the like, but some.



The most important aspect of a good role-playing system is to have the flexibility of being easily changed on every level.  I think off all the things that are done wrong in modern design, its the constrictive designs that make changes virtually impossible.  For example in 4th edition we had healing surges which where a fundemental aspect on which the core encounter balancing system worked, it assumed you used them, if you didn't you where screwed.

It's not like that's a new to modern design thing.  Try playing 1e without saving throws or clerics.

I think the core design of NEXT is much closer to the sort of Gygaxian philosophy of flexible game systems.

I'll agree that it's clearly making an effort.  ;)

But, I don't think most players ever really embraced that philosophy - either that, or there was a shift in the player base and it became unpopular - with 3e, the whole thing changed, and it was RAW all the way.

One reason the 3e/4e edition war was so bitter, "just do it your own way" carried no weight anymore.

5e is desperately trying to bring back that zietgiest - if only because it's easier to make slapdash rules and tell the customer:  you find it 'broken?' fix it as you like.


 

 

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It would be easier to list the things D&D did well that helped capture the trickier aspects of genre:

hit points.

It didn't even do that right.  The genre is (or it was, before HBO and Starz got involved) all about Mary Sues, not an endless stream of corpses.

In Tolkien's world, only one "PC" died, and its player made another dude during that time when getting players to show up was pretty inconsistent (about the same time the DM let someone take over a NPC for a little bit).  In a D&D LotR campaign, maybe Aragorn would have made it to the end of the adventure path, while Sam#27 and Frodo#113 would be the halfings in the volcano.

Classic D&D emulated the horny teenagers from 80's slasher movies far better than it emulated the heroes of the 'fantasy' and 'epic' genres.

It would be easier to list the things D&D did well that helped capture the trickier aspects of genre:

hit points.

It didn't even do that right.  The genre is (or it was, before HBO and Starz got involved) all about Mary Sues, not an endless stream of corpses.

In Tolkien's world, only one "PC" died, and its player made another dude during that time when getting players to show up was pretty inconsistent (about the same time the DM let someone take over a NPC for a little bit).  In a D&D LotR campaign, maybe Aragorn would have made it to the end of the adventure path, while Sam#27 and Frodo#113 would be the halfings in the volcano.

Classic D&D emulated the horny teenagers from 80's slasher movies far better than it emulated the heroes of the 'fantasy' and 'epic' genres.


OK, hit points outside of low level, then.

 

 

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Are there any fantasy adventure novels where the majority of the main characters die to random traps?

That being said, I think boromir is a good example of what happens to characters who try intimidating other party members to give them their loot.
Whooo.... lotsa ways, where to start:

Vancian casting:  The Dying Earth is not the whole genre.
Magic items:  too many of 'em
Clerics - the 'healbot' is just as countrary to genre as it gets
Everyone who can walking around in armor all the time.  OK, the 80s Excalibur was like that, but nothing else.
Psionics
Monks
Ear seekers, rust monsters, etc
Vancian casting:  No mage in genre has that many spells, not even on the Dying Earth
Armor reducing hit chance instead of absorbing damage
Shields hardly reducing hit chance at all
One minute combat rounds

It would be easier to list the things D&D did well that helped capture the trickier aspects of genre:



Ah ok I get what your saying, I don't think we where talking about the same thing.

Yeah I agree that D&D really wasn't intended so much to replicate other worlds so much as it was created to emulate "D&D worlds" which considering 30 years of D&D is in fact a fantasy genre of its own and one might say the most famous of them all.  I mean I'm sure people know what Balewolf is on the surface, but I doubt the average fantasy fan could tell you as much about that world as they could about Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance.

While to some respect D&D was fit to cover certain types of worlds from fiction, like Conan for example (which it did officially), I think in large part Gygax was creating D&D from his own creation, his own gaming groups where he invented his own "fantasy way".  

In either case I don't see how 4th edition fixed that.  I mean AEDU powers are specific and oddly enough they don't fit that well in the one place where they should, worlds created specifically for D&D. 

"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

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I do recall hearing about this "sweet spot" very, very often on these boards, however. I guess a google search could help quanity this statement.

The lead designer of 4e (Rob Heinsoo) explained the "sweet spot" in 3.Xe as being from 4th to around 10th, back in an interview in 2009. I know I'd heard similar level ranges in other articles/discussions, even before 4e was released.
“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier
Yeah I agree that D&D really wasn't intended so much to replicate other worlds so much as it was created to emulate "D&D worlds" which considering 30 years of D&D is in fact a fantasy genre of its own and one might say the most famous of them all.

It can't possibly be higher than number 3 after LotR and (gak) Harry Potter (if you can even call that fantasy).  Probably behind Conan and adaptations of the King Arthur legend, as well.

I mean, mainstream people have /heard/ of D&D, maybe.  That's about it.   MMOs are pushing D&D-inspired ideas closer, too, so there's that.

In any case, those 30 years of D&D self-emulation (stagnation) came, perforce, after the game was actually concieved.  And, while we can't cast Speak With Dead to find out for sure, I'd be surprised if Arneson and Gygax weren't trying to emulate the broader genre.  Maybe even the whole sci-fi/fantasy genre as it existed in the early 70s (considering the psionics appendix and White Plume Mountain).


In either case I don't see how 4th edition fixed that.

I think it was more focused on fixing balance issues, but it did pound down a few contra-genre nails here and there, like Vancian and healbots.


I mean AEDU powers are specific and oddly enough they don't fit that well in the one place where they should, worlds created specifically for D&D. 

They do fit pretty well, in general, and more broadly than fantasy.  Heroes (action heroes particularly) tend to have a signature move or few that they use often, but not constantly - encounters model that.  They tend to get the crap beaten out of them but come back and win it - healing surges & second wind.  They pull out some big gun at the last minute to save the day, leaving you wondering "why the hell didn't he open with that?" - Dailies.  And they're a little more flashy and badass than the regular joes all the time - at wills.   

Of course, worlds created specifically for D&D were often twisted around the game's failings (to the point that the novels could be downright painful to read at times, honestly), so, of course, clean up the failings and the structures built to prop them up don't look so good anymore.  There are examples of that (FR) and exceptions (Dark Sun).


 

 

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I mean AEDU powers are specific and oddly enough they don't fit that well in the one place where they should, worlds created specifically for D&D. 

They do fit pretty well, in general, and more broadly than fantasy.  Heroes (action heroes particularly) tend to have a signature move or few that they use often, but not constantly - encounters model that.  They tend to get the crap beaten out of them but come back and win it - healing surges & second wind.  They pull out some big gun at the last minute to save the day, leaving you wondering "why the hell didn't he open with that?" - Dailies.  And they're a little more flashy and badass than the regular joes all the time - at wills. 




Ha - Do - KEN!!!

Ka-May-Ha-May-HA!!!

Iron reaver, soul stealer!!!

Agumon Digivolve to... Greymon!
Greymon Digivolve to.. Metal Greymon!

Strength of the Bear!
Speed of the Puma!

Form Blazing sword!

By jungle law the ghost who walks calls on the strength of ten tigers!

Fastball special!

This looks like a job for super Samson power.
And super Goliath power too.
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Just because an attack has a name doesn't mean a character yells it. Japanese characters yell their attacks for the viewers to know whats going on.

How many casters in books say their spells direct name? Harry Potter does, but gandalf doesn't.


Does your fighter in pre-4e yell  "parry" or "dodge" when an attack misses him? Those are manouvres after all. What about Sunder or Disarm?


They don't have to.
But if they have an attack with a name,
that is the product of spcial training,
that works differently then the attacks of people who had different training,
and that is used on a limited basis
then 4E's AEUD system is one way to model it that works and makes sense with in the bounds of heroic, cinematic story telling.


 
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
They don't have to.
But if they have an attack with a name,
that is the product of spcial training,
that works differently then the attacks of people who had different training,
and that is used on a limited basis
then 4E's AEUD system is one way to model it that works and makes sense with in the bounds of heroic, cinematic story telling.


 



Ah I thought you were using the examples in a derogatory sense.


So yes, I do agree with you.