An explanation for 4E hate

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hi,
looking at the many people who post threads saying that 4E isnt D&D I thought I would look into why that is and I have found a very well thought out explanation for it that syncs with the way I feel about the current edition.(Note, this is a repost from the Paizo message boards, full thread found here http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/community/gaming/dnd/4EsRejectionOfGygaxianNaturalism)

Posted by Pax Veritas

I wish to share James Maliszewski's outstanding article from Grognardia (see below) with the 3.5/d20/OGL/PRPG community because it eloquently defines the Gygaxian Naturalism that has been present during much of the history and tradition of D&D. The 4E forum has recently made me feel very unwelcome, and this article belongs to the forum most concerned about preserving the history and traditions of the hobby of role-playing. James honors our Paizonian leader, Erik Mona, by quoting him on the front page of his blog.

IMHO, among the many different facets of the "feel" of the game formerly solely known as Dungeons and Dragons (now affectionately played as Pathfinder Role-playing Game, Castles & Crusades, and many, many others....) Gygaxian "Naturalism" as James describes it has been central to much of the campaigning I've done over the past 25 years. Gygaxian "Naturalism" is still strongly present in the games I DM today, and the games I play in. I also perceive a lot of what James describes in his description of Gygaxian "Naturalism" to be found in the monthly Pathfinder Chronicles I receive from PAIZO.

After reading the article, feel free to discuss your concept of Gygaxian Naturalism as you see it, or in what ways it captures part of the essence of what the "feel" of the game is all about, along with any related discussions.

The Article, Gygaxian "Naturalism" by James Maliszewski:
"I refer, from time to time, to a concept called "Gygaxian Naturalism." I realize that I've never actually explained what I mean by this phrase. As I use it, it refers to a tendency, present in the OD&D rules and reaching its fullest flower in AD&D, to go beyond describing monsters purely as opponents/obstacles for the player characters by giving game mechanics that serve little purpose other than to ground those monsters in the campaign world.

This naturalism can take many forms. For example, OD&D often tells us that for every X number of monster Y, there's a chance that monster Z might also be found in their lair. In the case of the djinn and efreet, as another example, we find that they both can create nourishing food and potable beverages, as well as many other kinds of materials through the use of their innate powers. In AD&D, these sorts of things get expanded upon greatly, with the Monster Manual telling us how many females and children can be found in a monster lair and giving many creatures powers and abilities that don't serve a specifically combat-oriented purpose, such as a pixie's ability to know alignment, for instance.

The intention behind Gygaxian Naturalism is to paint a picture of a "real" world, which is to say, a world that exists for reasons other than purely gaming ones. The implication is that monsters have lives of their own and thus go about their business doing various things until they encounter the player characters. Exactly what they do is described by reference to game mechanics, whether it be the numbers of non-combatants in a lair or spell-like abilities that help the monster do whatever it naturally does when it's not facing off against an adventuring party.

A consequence of Gygaxian Naturalism is that it grounds D&D a bit more in a pseudo-reality. I don't mean to imply that it's realistic in any meaningful sense, only that its fantasy follows "natural" laws of a sort, much in the way that, for example, I know that there are squirrels and raccoons and rabbits in my neighborhood who go about their business when I'm not seeing them in my yard or chasing them away from my recycling bins. That's one reason why AD&D has stats for so many kinds of "ordinary" animals: you can't build a "real" world without stats for sheep and cows and horses and such, because you never know when the PCs might need to kill one.

The end result of this is that Gygaxian fantasy is a simulation -- a fantastical one, to be sure, but a simulation nonetheless. The downside is that it's a very specific kind of simulation and it carries with it a lot of assumptions and expectations that not everyone shares. I know many OD&Ders, for example, who don't like "naturalistic" orcs, preferring them instead to be spawned from black ooze that bubbles up from the mythic underworld that is the dungeon. Likewise, the tendency to provide stats for everything is a self-perpetuating one, reaching its zenith in 3e, in which the game almost literally did stat out every conceivable thing with which your character might interact. Needless to say, some find this to be too much, myself included.

Gygaxian Naturalism survived Gygax's involvement in the development of Dungeons & Dragons and formed one the most important, if often only sub-consciously, creative foundations of the game through its second and third editions. My read of the latest edition is that it largely rejects Gygaxian Naturalism without embracing the alternative offered by some interpretations of OD&D, instead opting for a different model altogether. I myself have drunk deeply from the wells of Gygaxian Naturalism, so it's second nature to me now. I won't go so far as to say that Gary's approach is inseparable from D&D, because that's certainly not the case, but I will say that it's so deeply ingrained -- even in OD&D, particularly if you add the supplements -- that, to remove it, is very likely to have the effect of creating a different game entirely -- certainly a different one that what has been called D&D for most of the game's existence."

James Maliszewski's blog (excellent blog by the way) can be found at: grognardia.blogspot.com
Lets see here...

I could either have:

A. Gygaxian Naturalism, which since I create my own world will never get used

or

B. Have the book space Gygaxian Naturalism would have taken up inhabited by additional monsters, which i will use.



Not a hard choice.
...whatever
But it gives you the background info to use the monsters in your game.
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?
I don't really get it, based on the example in the Monster Manual.

Gygaxian Naturalism: If you have a Black Dragon, which often lives in bogs, it's likely the dragon may be encountered with trolls and/or bog hags as both sometime live in bogs.

4e Monster Manual: Encounter Group: 1 Adult Black Dragon, 2 trolls, 1 bog hag.

I don't see the difference, really. 4e may seem a bit concrete, but the encounter groups are suggestions to give DMs an idea of how difficult an encounter with that monster would be and to show what monsters go with it thematically.

The basic idea is that the Monster Manual in one edition has more fluff than the other. Okay, yeah, the extra fluff in my 2e Monstrous Manual is neat and I miss it (because I love reading about monsters), but it never really changed my game. Big deal.

Bottom line, I see what you're going with, but you never proved anything except the Monster Manual has more fluff in older editions. That means one book in all of them makes it more "simulationist." What about simulating economies or weather systems or vehicles or civilizations. That would have more to do with simulating a fantasy world than one monster book having more fluff about monsters than the other.

Also, what's up with your word choice? It comes off as elitist and moronic at the same time. "I myself have drunk deeply from the wells of Gygaxian Naturalism, so it's second nature to me now."? What the **** is that? Who talks like that? It's purple prose. Be forward, you're not writing a ******* novel, you're writing a damn blog post.
My read of the latest edition is that it largely rejects Gygaxian Naturalism

First of all, let's drop the "Gygaxian" from "Gygaxian Naturalism". Adding fluff detail to your rulebooks wasn't invented by Gygax.

4e has its very own naturalism, similar to 3e's. Yes, it is more fill-in-the-blanks in nature, but a lot of DMs enjoy the freedom that this allows them in shaping their campaign world, where instead of having to override whatever preexisting flavor was already presumed in the books, they have a slate which is a bit more clear.

It's really a question of whether the DM likes to adapt the game world to their liking, or adapts themselves to the game world's fluff. Some prefer the former, some prefer the latter, and there is no correct answer here.
But it gives you the background info to use the monsters in your game.
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?

My elves are desert dwelling militarists that focus heavily on law, order and tradition. They also have goblioids as willing servants who serves as Griffin knights to support them.
The explanation of 4E hate is that many people don't enjoy 4E. It's not the same game as 3.5, it has some quite significant changes, and it's not reasonable to expect that everyone who enjoyed a previous edition will enjoy the new one.

There's nothing wrong with that, they're entitled to their opinion, and I'd be equally upset if people kept telling me that I was under some obligation to buy and enjoy 3.5.

The majority of those on the forums who don't like 4E are intelligent, literate people who have a lot to add to the debate, drawing on their experience with past incarnations of the game, and I think it's great that they're continuing to stay with the community even if the current product doesn't run to their tastes.
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?

First of all, that's a strawman, since 4e is not simply "here's the stat block for the monster, have fun". There is fluff there.

Secondly, you use Elves how you want to use Elves. Period.
how would i know how to use elves without gygaxian naturalism?

step 1) grab pencil
step 2) grab notebook
step 3) use brain and think up of how elves work in my world
step 4) write down idea.

gygaxian naturalism is only useful if there is the assumption of a default world where those groupings make sense. 4th ed gives suggestions on groups to use but does not attempt to say anything else.
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Thinking on it a bit further, Pax Veritas' post can be handily summed up thusly: "I prefer 3e's fluff to 4e's fluff."

That's their opinion and they're entitled to it, but to attempt to pass it off as anything more than that is uncalled for.
My elves are desert dwelling militarists that focus heavily on law, order and tradition. They also have goblioids as willing servants who serves as Griffin knights to support them.

Well my elves are better than yours because they live it trees and and they are pretty....fine I can't remember how they are, I usually just make it up on the spot then write it down to keep consistency.
... you can't build a "real" world without stats for sheep and cows and horses and such, because you never know when the PCs might need to kill one.

After all, they might be 10xp short of a level up...

OR

Oh, no! Stampede! Quick, let's roll initiative!

OR

Aw, the wizard got killed by the chicken again! I told you to send the barbarian to pick the eggs...

--

And I'm saddened to see that the article considers sheep and cows and horses to be more likely to be killed (and thus, deserving of statblocks) than bacteria and other microorganisms that might impact the adventure.

"Let me roll percentile for your chance to catch the plague as you sleep in the sleazy inn..."

Yay for realism! :surrender
Most of the existing fluff for monsters wasn't/still isn't very good anyway. I feel I can do better for my campaigns.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
Fluff does no one any good if you're going to toss it out and make up your own. "Official" fluff is a crutch for the uncreative.
...whatever
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?

"One bone broken for every twig snapped underfoot."
Fluff does no one any good if you're going to toss it out and make up your own. "Official" fluff is a crutch for the uncreative.

To play the devil's advocate here, no one should be forced to be creative in order to play DnD. Or, at least, not creative enough to create their own world.

On the other hand, the "4e has no fluff" argument is dumb, since there is an official world, and there are descriptions in the monster blocks. They are much, much shorter than the AD&D ones, but I don't really think they're that much shorter than 3e or 3.5... Actually, as 3rd edition progressed, monster descriptions started to get "thinner".

Or so memory serves me, which is good enough for me. :D

I'm actually the type of DM who doesn't really want to work too hard to "put monsters there", but occasionally I like to make interesting choices. In other words, 4e nearly hit the right place for me. I'd rather have some "environment tables" like 3e, but the "choose one monster, and check its suggested encounter groups" is a good option. As someone said, a "orcs, worgs and goblins" encounter is the same as AD&D would describe in half a page of description on how orcs are a savage tribe that raises worgs to hunt, and sometimes enslave weaker humanois etc etc etc.
But it gives you the background info to use the monsters in your game.
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?

Because background information, by its nature, is restrictive. More often than otherwise, it only provides you with a single context into which to use the monster in question, creates more assumptions about these creatures, and is ultimately useless to those who don't use it. And, let's face it: the ones bemoaning this kind of loss are those who like the lost material. The material itself has no inherent value except to generate interest in a large demographic. Personally speaking, I couldn't care less about core fluff since my setting of choice is Eberron. Drow as a spider-worshiping matriarchy built on survival of the fittest is completely useless to me. Then again, I'm not bemoaning the fact that the Monster Manual doesn't feature an entire section dedicated to the cult of Vulkoor, their practices, beliefs, and lifestyle. Why? Because I realize that this kind of information is only desired by a minority.

On the other hand, less fluff and more mechanics provides an evident and intentional disconnect between the two, which makes the mechanics more accessible to the majority and thus more worthwhile. What's more, in this day and age, information is so easily accessible that it takes merely a few minutes to search the Internet for fluff information on game elements or to share ideas with the community. This being said, that doesn't mean there's still good reason to publish fluff information, but it's more coherent to do so in books devoted to fluff, such as campaign setting material.
Well my elves are better than yours because they live it trees and and they are pretty....fine I can't remember how they are, I usually just make it up on the spot then write it down to keep consistency.

I wasn't trying to come off as a dick, but I think I did. All I was trying to say was that I didn't really need the fluff in the book to tell me what I should do with elves. I came off a bit peevish, I guess.
After reading the article, feel free to discuss your concept of Gygaxian Naturalism as you see it, or in what ways it captures part of the essence of what the "feel" of the game is all about, along with any related discussions.

My first thought is that the entirety of D&D's published history is a massive resource to be plumbed for the simulationist-bent DM. If I want to know the ratio of male, female, and young kobolds in a typical lair than the AD&D Monster Manual is a good place to look. If I want to know something about Kenku society than the 2E Monster Manual is a good place to look. If I want ideas on non-combat related magical abilities of demons than the 3E Monster Manual is a good place to look. In short, I see no reason to lament the loss of such simulationist resources when I still have the exact same resources at my disposal.

My second thought is that the 4E Monster Manual is a dry read with its de-emphasis of the fluffier side of life. I no longer flip through the Monster Manual to generate ideas, but rather, use other resources for ideas and then turn to the Monster Manual for stats when necessary.
I wasn't trying to come off as a dick, but I think I did. All I was trying to say was that I didn't really need the fluff in the book to tell me what I should do with elves. I came off a bit peevish, I guess.

Nah you didn't come of as a dick, and do not think he was trying to call you one either...I think he was poking fun and playing around...
There still has yet to be any good or credible explanation for 3.5 hate, 3.0 hate, 2nd edition hate, 1st edition hate, Expert edition hate, or even Basic edition hate. Given that I seriously doubt that there will ever be an explanation for 4th edition hate.
Gygaxian is NOT a slur. Those who use it as such should be punched in the face. Repeatedly.
"One bone broken for every twig snapped underfoot."

This post right here? Epic. Win.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
To play the devil's advocate here, no one should be forced to be creative in order to play DnD...On the other hand, the "4e has no fluff" argument is dumb, since there is an official world, and there are descriptions in the monster blocks.

A good way to point out both side...and I concur. As the repeated saying on this board that "player's who want fluff are not creative", I am a player who wants "fluff", and a quick look at my campaign website will dispel any "lack of creativity" argument. 4e has fluff, that isn't fleshed out, it has an strange mix, one one had, it describes things in rigid detail (something I never liked in older editions, such as 2e), while leaving out the flexible details, things that could be worked with. Some things, like age, have been essentially removed from the game (for better or worse, it was just a stat, but in a few cases, I found it helpful. I don't mind the mechanics of it being gone that much). Some things have been changed so completely to cater to a different group from earlier players (like the half-orc origins). I find it a little harder in this edition to separate the essential qualities of "fluff", with the easily changed ones. For example, you could argue that if I don't like the fey origin story of Eladrin, I can just insert my own version. If I do that, or make any "fluff" changes to the cosmology pertaining to the feywild, suddenly, fey step stops making sense, because it was built with the context of the official content. So this one change forces me to evaluate fey step, changing another factor in the game rules. Do I need to look over all of the Eladrin feats as well? I never felt so restricted by fluff, only to have the "rest of the story" hidden away. It was something I have a bit of issue with in 2e, to a far lesser extent, because I felt more accommodated when I made a change, and when I come up with my own world in 3e, I can easily modify it. It's a small, but significant change. It also poses a problem when I add new players or start a new campaign...how do I explain the world to them, when I don't feel compelled to use the "fluff" as written, and the more I deviate from it, the more I find I isolate players from the game. When I can cite the "framework" and say, "this is how a half-elf lives, but in my game, they usually", that's good. 4e has not removed that, but it has impeded it. When I look up a half-elf entry in 3e, I feel as though I am free to decide where they fit in society. The three paragraphs in the PHB on them describes the racial trends, and some ideas, but they aren't hard-coded. And when I read those three paragraphs, I feel I know half-elves. Those examples are very clear in showing who they are. In 4th edition, I look up the same race. Now I get a vague section that describes such important details as their preference for facial hair. There's some interesting stuff, but it doesn't inspire anything. In nine paragraphs, I feel less intimate with the race than I used to in three. That's a lot of change, and it's hard to describe. Changes like this permeate in the new edition. I consider it change, not a "ruining D&D" thing, but it is a change, and one that I don't prefer.

So it's not that "fluff" doesn't exist, but I feel that it is not defined well enough.

In another issue, the "creativity" issue, the thing is, not everyone is a novelist with a massive imagination and world waiting to be made. Some people want to open a book, have it ready for them, and go. In one of the games I run, we started out playing 3rd edition (3.0), before I introduced them to 4th edition when it was released. They were fairly new players anyway, but in 3rd edition, they had much more fleshed out characters. When we made the 4e transition, the change in how they role-play was so jarring, that it required a change in the game. Because some people rely on having that "framework". Even if a DM can live without it, it doesn't mean the players can, and it's not really the DM's duty to hold a player's hand.

As far as 4e hate goes, it's kind of simple. People are passionate about D&D, it's not like a TV show or a line of frozen food products, and people are fanatical about those things. D&D is a lifestyle to its fans. And when you change that part of things, it's met with resistance and curiosuity. That curiousity did not pay off for a lot of players, who found the changes too jarring. Some people are just resistant to change. Other people, upon reading the books, playing the game, decided it simply wasn't the right game. Others saw something enjoyable in the game, but felt there needed to be improvement (this is where I fit in). And finally, people came in who loved the new game so much because they didn't like the things that made D&D, well, D&D in the first place. So there is 4e hate, for sure. And a lot of it is to me, the same thing as Vista hate. People always complain about imaginary problems with Vista, and since its release, it has been poisoned by bad opinions from people who either never used it, or used it briefly, were intimidated, and got rid of it. Most Vista complaints can be resolved within 30 minutes of installation, and I've found that when I get an anti-Vista person to use a Vista computer, they quickly fall in love with it. It has it's problems, it's made a lot of bad changes, sure. But the hatred for it is irrational. And 4e is having the same reaction from people, only it has it's rabid defenders.

But I completely agree with the concept of having a "real world" feel to the game. It's what pulled me into D&D, not the "I can bash stuff with a greatsword!" idea.
To play the devil's advocate here, no one should be forced to be creative in order to play DnD. Or, at least, not creative enough to create their own world.

On the other hand, the "4e has no fluff" argument is dumb, since there is an official world, and there are descriptions in the monster blocks. They are much, much shorter than the AD&D ones, but I don't really think they're that much shorter than 3e or 3.5... Actually, as 3rd edition progressed, monster descriptions started to get "thinner".

Or so memory serves me, which is good enough for me. :D

I'm actually the type of DM who doesn't really want to work too hard to "put monsters there", but occasionally I like to make interesting choices. In other words, 4e nearly hit the right place for me. I'd rather have some "environment tables" like 3e, but the "choose one monster, and check its suggested encounter groups" is a good option. As someone said, a "orcs, worgs and goblins" encounter is the same as AD&D would describe in half a page of description on how orcs are a savage tribe that raises worgs to hunt, and sometimes enslave weaker humanois etc etc etc.

I agree. I dont think the game needs to tell me numbers of kids and such. Thats useless info that the dm can come up with if he wants to.
Well my elves are better than yours because they live it trees and and they are pretty....fine I can't remember how they are, I usually just make it up on the spot then write it down to keep consistency.

And my elves are the screaming horde... to go along with my tree-loving hippy orcs.

Go, Eberron! =)
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97183719 wrote:
Seeing as there is a disconnect between balance (quantifiable) and fun, (subjective and personal) discussing fun in a thread about balance because you find one system more enjoyable than another is as helpful as discussing religion in a thread about architectural engineering because you think cathedrals look prettier than outhouses.
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?

Simple, I'd dream something up.
Use whichever system you and your friends like already. "Gygaxian Naturalism" is plain and simply ONE person's interpretation of how a campaign's denizens should live. It's based on fantasy roots, the cliche, and other sources that work for some and not others. With the amount of people getting into this hobby it would be insane to believe everyone would want to run a campaign the same exact way. The fluff could be utterly useless to most people. Instead they're trying to consolidate each and every aspect into their own books so you don't have to buy a book and not use half of it.

As some have said no amount of published fluff could take the place of the countless ideas, generated by those who love the hobby, in forums, personal campaign web pages, and the tremendous amounts of other sources on the web. We could even be reading more fluffy material instead of edition wars threads.

It must be a rare blessing for someone like me who got their start in the second edition days when fluff was at its all time high and I got to know the worlds I played in first hand. Forget the countless novels, movies, tales, video games, people, magazines that inspired me to make up my own ****.

If you like fluff, do like I do and go get it. I collect everything Eberron because I like the setting. I want fluff in those books. I still use the 3.5 Eberron books in 4th edition. The crunch in those books is useless just as the fluff in the crunchy books is useless.

The publishing models of old worked when three books and a handful of adventures kept the hobby going for years. As evident with 3.5, massive amounts of source material become unruly when it isn't organized. 4.0 is trying to organize.
What about simulating economies or weather systems or vehicles or civilizations. That would have more to do with simulating a fantasy world than one monster book having more fluff about monsters than the other.

1e and 2e had tons of that stuff, not just monster fluff. 3e not so much, that's when the trend towards "more stats less fluff" started to ramp up.

One of my favorite booklets was the World Builder's Handbook. I also loved the Wilderness Survival Guide and Dungeoneer's Survival Guide.
Thats a neat essay. I remember how much I loved all of the appendix of the 1st ed DMG. Especially "Dungeon Dressings."
I dont see why you cant take from both-I already have a copy of the 1e DMG, I can just take that and combine it with my existing 4e books.

Is Gygaxian Naturalism an integral part of 4e? Monsters are reduced to roles in combat such as striker/controller etc. I can understand why people wouldn't like that.

On the plus side you can make all kinds of neat combos with it in a pretty short time. For example in 1st ed my party went into the astral plane and encountered a group of Vrocks-in 1e this would have been some Vrocks and maybe some other kinds of allies? Evil cleric or something. But in 4e I can just plop in a combat group of all Vrocks-2 Soldier with shields and wicked swords, then I can make one really evil with a large spore launcher and I have an artillery Vrock. Then I make a 2 headed vrock and I have my controller/leader vrock. Or maybe a Vrock Heirophant etc etc.
So you can play with Gygaxian Naturalism in all kinds of fun ways with 4e.
And my elves are the screaming horde... to go along with my tree-loving hippy orcs.

Go, Eberron! =)

Oh Noes!! Your elves are going to eat mine!

I wasn't trying to come off as a dick, but I think I did. All I was trying to say was that I didn't really need the fluff in the book to tell me what I should do with elves. I came off a bit peevish, I guess.

Nah you didn't come of as a dick, and do not think he was trying to call you one either...I think he was poking fun and playing around...

Sorry that you got that impression Fenris_Lathiin, I was just trying to agreewith you (as OnceUponATime said) but in a comical manner.
"Gygaxian Naturalism"...
My own experience with it (very subjective) is more akin to "Gygaxian NPC centrism".
Dungeons, regions, whole campaigns were populated without thinking about how the players/PCs can do anything there. PCs were "intruders" in a world not meant for them, and they had to find a way to survive.
First you populate, then you see if the players can deal with it.
In the same way that each kind of "monster" was built on considerations not related to the real game situation. Take a look at the 3HD wights of basic D&D: level stealers, immune to normal weapon, they were on random encounter tables for level 1 to 3 PCs, in groups.
For Gygax, and many DMs in the past, the campaign world existed in its own right, and the PCs were intruders trying to survive, or simply play, in it.
Best example would be Forgotten realms, I think: heroes are already there, they are powerful, they are NOT the PCs.
4E is based on a different set of mind: the PCs are what is important, everything is built around them, their abilities, their level, their actions.

4E is evolving - strange that nobody seems to see it.
First core books were all about dungeons. How to create a dungeon, how to populate it in a level appropriate way, etc. First PHB was very low on fluff (see the short paragon path descriptions!). Just basic "adventurer" archetypes.
Because many players/DMs use D&D as a dungeon exploration game, with mainly fights and treasures.
Now look at the others books. New paragon Paths (in Martial, PHB2, arcane power and others) have a long fluffy description, speaking of organisations, spirits, legends, campaign ideas, the way the world works, etc.

The core books were the "basic" definition of the game, centered around dungeons and "traditional" gigaxian door/monster/treasure.
New books are more around stories, describing the world, giving tools and ideas for the players and DMs who like to use D&D as a "world exploration" game and not only a "dungeon crawling" game.
It was the same, in the beginnings of the game, remember? The basis set (red, I think) was for dungeons, the expert set introduced rules for wilderness and campaigns, etc.

There is "fluff" in 4E. There even is a lot of it. It is not all in one place - because they want it to be "modular", they want YOU to choose what you like and be able to change it as you see fit. Yes, it means that if you want to know what eladrins ARE, you won't find it in PHB1, there is only a basic description you can extend on. There is a little more in the MM1. There is a lot in manual of the planes. And it begins to really make sense when you read the "eladrin" restricted paragon paths from the "power source" books.

The 4E motto seems to be "rules may be fluff, but fluff should not be a rule".

It bugs some players/DMs, who want fleshed out background information form the beginning. It satisfies those who play for the fighting and simple dungeon crawls. It pleases those who like to build a coherent world by themselves around what is given in the rules.
Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Dungeons, regions, whole campaigns were populated without thinking about how the players/PCs can do anything there. PCs were "intruders" in a world not meant for them, and they had to find a way to survive.

So, maybe because that's due to the fact that a bunch of armed and powerful people entering a stronghold of other creatures uninvited and with intent to kick serious [insert word of choice] are in fact...intruders in a world not meant for them? It was this fact that lead to that philosophy. The idea that they PCs will enter a lair designed to be assaulted by enemies just doesn't make sense. That's why it wasn't intended that way in the old games.

4E is evolving - strange that nobody seems to see it.

I don't know what you mean. I see it, I think anyone who has read anything past the PHB sees it. Even someone who's glanced the at Errata, they've seen it. 4e is evolving...I don't think that it means everything that's happened is necessarily a good decision, but it is an evolving system. Just like every other form of D&D (although the updates have an odd organic feel, unlike 3.5, where after the first few books, began to be less relevant, and more tacked on). Of course, remembering my D&D history, the initial 3rd edition supplements, such as Tome & Blood, Sword and Fist, were very compatible and coherent with the existing rules. In another year or two, I hope 4e maintains this organic state.

Of all the new books, PHB2 has been the best update I've seen to the game, and it's small things that somehow bring to life the missing aspects of PHB. Ideas like character backgrounds are excellent starting points to repairing the missing role-play elements. Expanding the race and classes has benefited the game (although I am having some issues with bard abuse by players).

Do not mistake a genuine desire to see 4e become a better product for hatred and bashing. I can attest, a lot of posts that are labeled "4e hate" are just that, intending to post negative opinions in hopes the system "evolves" into something better.
The 4E motto seems to be "rules may be fluff, but fluff should not be a rule".

What bugs some of us is "fluff should not be a rule, therefore there shall be no rules to help create fluff."

Edit: Not to mention "rules should be simple, no matter how unrealistic that makes things." Couldn't help it. I guess I'm just a simulationist at heart.

Edit2: I find the term "Gygax Naturalism" to be rather silly. Simulationism wasn't a heavy aspect of D&D in it's original ("Gygax") incarnation. It developed slowly over time and editions. 4e is probably closest in many ways to the original D&D. If you just take it at it's bare bones rules without bothering to worry about the fluff, it is hack and slash. And so was the original "Gygax" D&D. If you spend some time developing it, you have a fleshed out "Naturalist" environment, just as the original "Gygax" D&D.
Dranelan, I see nothing wrong with what you're saying. I just try to stress the fact that there very differents ways to play D&D, and that what seems good to someone can be felt as wrong by another person. I will quote one of your posts:

But I completely agree with the concept of having a "real world" feel to the game. It's what pulled me into D&D, not the "I can bash stuff with a greatsword!" idea.

Here is the big difference between you and me: D&D world has always be "unrealistic" and artificial for me. I wanted too worlds that felt "real", so I left D&D for other games, far from "classes", "levels" and "you gain power by killing things". It is only with 4E that I began to think that I could use D&D to "flesh" the traditional D&D epicness in something coherent and "real" -mainly because classes and levels are not what they were.

When I evoked the "evolution of 4E", I meant that the "fluff" describing the world is more and more important and detailed.

So, maybe because that's due to the fact that a bunch of armed and powerful people entering a stronghold of other creatures uninvited and with intent to kick serious [insert word of choice] are in fact...intruders in a world not meant for them? It was this fact that lead to that philosophy. The idea that they PCs will enter a lair designed to be assaulted by enemies just doesn't make sense. That's why it wasn't intended that way in the old games.

What I meant is that, in "Gygax times", whatever your character, whatever your level, you could find anything before you. The world was here, if you opened the wrong door, you died (like in old video games )
You are first level and your mission is to fight versus the ten humanoid tribes of a little valley, each counting dozens of ennemies...
Was it "realistic"? Yes, in a way.
My players reaction? "let's leave this place! adventurers have nothing to do here". At least, it was their reaction after their first character died in the first fight. Incidently, I then learned to build my stories around the characters, by giving them challenges that could seem appropriate to them.
Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Fluff does no one any good if you're going to toss it out and make up your own. "Official" fluff is a crutch for the uncreative.

My all time favorite D&D books are the 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual and the Planescape monster books because of the fluff. And I appreciate good fluff even if I don't use it 100% as is. Am I uncreative?
But it gives you the background info to use the monsters in your game.
How would you know how to use elves in your game without any background info at all except for a stat block?

I know how Elves fit in to MY world. As a world-builder, I don't need anything but the rules defined.
If being a DM is playing in a sand box, I find that 4th edition has far fewer 'presents' left by the neighbors kittycats that i have to sift out and remove to be able to play in said sand box.

People like building their own in DnD. Fluff light preserves more space to build your own.

Not that this can't cause problems. I allowed a player in a campaign i had run up until 5th level run an adventure, the first session of which was last night.

Now elves have a stronger tie to their fey roots and the feywild than I had imagined or planned. I had pictured courts of Eladrin and clans of elves living in the real world woods. He added elves to the courts of eladrin.

I wouldn't have thought to do it that way, but i can roll with it for the sake of making a solid reasonable campaign world.

OH and BTW when you always DM and you finally get to play and your character crits with a [4W] daily the first time you use it ... it IS good times.
4E haters like to write elaborate and lengthy essays why 4E is bad. Now approaching the year One after doomsday, their contributions become loftier and more difficult to comprehend by the day. They try moving this horribly boring subject to the next level by adding philosophical keywords to their arguments, like "naturalism", in order to keep the discussion going. They prefer this over actually playing the game, which is the funny part. They also find fewer and fewer people who play 3.5, which gives them even more time for even lengthier posts. On the message board of the D&D meetup in NYC two people who hate 4E (but never show up and play) regularly celebrate message ping pong about why 4E sucks, occasionally admitting that they have only skimmed through the player's handbook and then "analyzed" what's wrong about the concept of powers and so on. Mindboggling.
I have only one explanation for this. They have invested such a huge amount of emotions and brain power, along with their grandmother's inheritance, on rule and fluff books, in order to master 3.5, they are like an old man who doesn't move his home anymore simply because it's too much of a hassle for someone who retired on what he loves.
The explanation of 4E hate is that many people don't enjoy 4E. It's not the same game as 3.5, it has some quite significant changes, and it's not reasonable to expect that everyone who enjoyed a previous edition will enjoy the new one.

There's nothing wrong with that, they're entitled to their opinion, and I'd be equally upset if people kept telling me that I was under some obligation to buy and enjoy 3.5.

The majority of those on the forums who don't like 4E are intelligent, literate people who have a lot to add to the debate, drawing on their experience with past incarnations of the game, and I think it's great that they're continuing to stay with the community even if the current product doesn't run to their tastes.

I agree with the above statement. However, that door should swing both ways. 3.5 fans should remember that not everyone feels that the changes are for the better and no matter how many times they post in the 4e forums about how much better 3.x or Pathfinder or whatever is, it is only their opinion.


I come here to talk about 4e with other 4e users not read 3.5 fans complain about 4e.

For me, 4e is what I always wanted D&D to be, but 3.5 never was. To complain that 4e is "not D&D" is only to say your opinion. 4.0 is very much D&D to me.
"It bugs some players/DMs, who want fleshed out background information form the beginning. It satisfies those who play for the fighting and simple dungeon crawls. It pleases those who like to build a coherent world by themselves around what is given in the rules.

Yeah, I am one of those DMs who likes making his own game world around the rules. That may explain some of my 4e love.
I know how Elves fit in to MY world. As a world-builder, I don't need anything but the rules defined.

QFT

The problem I have with the original argument, at least in the way it's often used as a stick to beat 4th edition with, is that it assumes there's one right way to play D&D. Elves are the way the books describe them and that's how they're supposed to be, and if the world you're using makes them different there's something deviant about it. Which of course leads to statements such as "Dark Sun is not D&D" or "Spelljammer is not D&D". And I'll note that Pax Veritas when challenged on this isn't actually willing to declare it outright.

The other argument often used, that proper D&D uses Gygaxian Naturalism to simulate a real world, also falls down. There is no fundamental reason why the same techniques that people used to make the world more "realistic" in earlier editions can't be used now. If you want rules for things which aren't (yet) covered, and without them can't play an RPG, then I suggest looking at the 1st edition AD&D PHB and working out how we managed to back in the day. Not that D&D is a system that people serious about simulationist play are likely to use.

These, in the day when heaven was falling, The hour when earth's foundations fled, Followed their mercenary calling, And took their wages, and are dead. Playing: Legendof Five Rings, The One Ring, Fate Core. Planning: Lords in the Eastern Marches, Runequest in Glorantha.