Thursday, March 1, 2012, 10:03 AM
One of the things that I really like about 4e is that you can play it out of the box. You don't need to have any house rules to have a fully functional game. Certainly if you don't use errata, you have broken things, and there is still some cheese, but it's not hard for a DM to compensate for that, even on the fly, and still make the game challenging.
This is the greatest thing about 4e when you combine it with organized play or pickup groups for one shots at gatherings or conventions. Everyone and come in knowing that playing the published rules set is going to work just fine and there is no set of material that has to be banned or things that need to be modified with house rules to work. And you don't get any conflicts of people having different sets of house rules to fix various thing.
I don't recall ever playing any other edition without house rules. Ever. There was always this that or the other that we did at our table. And if you ever got in with a new group it was always a little different and you had to learn new ways of doing things.
I have a big fear that the next iteration will have the house rules built right in. I look at thing like DM fiat and modularity and it just sounds like house rules. Sound like the core will just be a rules like edition (Basic D&D circa early 80's) and then you get the modules to expand the game.
Aren't the modules just preset groups of house rules to take the core to what you want to play? So we will just pick and choose the rules we want to use and ignore the rest... every table will be different and now we get an endless discussion of which rules we should use. Just kick me in the nuts right now. It will be less painful. And DM fiat is just the DM picks the rules and the players have to live with it. That's faster, but no more fun.
I love that the 4e rules are as clean as they are. Maybe not as clear some places as they could be, but clean. I like how the exception based system works and eliminates all potential for arguments of rules.
Once again I get the feeling that WotC is building a game that I am not going to enjoy. It's making me to depresses to go on with this post.
Thursday, January 26, 2012, 10:08 AM
I’ve been following what WoTC has been doing with the Next Iteration of D&D with a great bit of fascination. I think somebody there has been reading in the last couple years, somebody who either has some control, or is persuasive enough to influence others. It has been obvious from the information put out in various columns that the next iteration has been in development for some time. You see it most notably in “Legends and Lore”, but also in “Rule of Three”. There have also been hints in “Dungeon Master Experience” and even “Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress” in comments about playing through older editions and handling of rules.
When the announcement finally comes it comes a number of reporters and blogger reveal that they play tested the game at WoTC a number of weeks early. Many of them revealing that they went there at WoTC’s expense. Interesting. And the reports of the new edition, minus all the crunch details, from the media and blogosphere falls right with the WoTC announcement. So they lit up a whole lot of interest all at once with a bunch of notables in the community that have inside knowledge all orchestrated at once. I have to note that WoTC own announcement was underwhelming, but getting some much knowledgeable commentary allow with the announcement was a great move.
And then WoTC opens up new forums seeking input immediately. There is a huge influx of forum users and activity. This is exactly what they are looking for. Interest can lead to sales. But that’s not the level of sales they are looking for. It does necessarily lead to favorable reviews. We’re talking about a market of fickle and reactionary people. Nerd-rage is dangerous thing when trying to market a new version of anything to an admittedly geeky market.
So the real issue is: how do you turn that interest into favorable review rather than nerd-rage? You take some lessons from change management and psychology and you apply them to your marketing efforts. One of the prime tenants of change management is that if you change something, good, bad or indifferent, people will rebel against it. Always. However, if you get can get people invested in the change and make them feel like the changes are theirs, they will have a very favorable view of the changes. If you want people to view anything in a good light, all you need to do is apply a little cognitive dissonance. You see, the human mind does not react well to conflicting views and values and will change the way people think to eliminate those conflicts. I’m paraphrasing here and may get this wrong, but I believe it was Ben Franklin who said that if you want to turn and enemy into a friend, ask them for a simple favor. You see the mind cannot handle the conflict of doing a favor for someone you dislike, so when you do something for someone you dislike your view of that person must change.
So, you want buy-in, and the resulting sales from a new edition, then you need get the fan base to “feel” invested in the development, to “feel” like they have made a contribution to the development. You want them to “feel” like this is their edition. I put the quotes around “feel” because the reality is not important. It’s all in the perception of it.
The large open play testing is a big step toward this. Paizo did this with Pathfinder. And my understanding is that even after play testing they changed very little, but the fan base (who were blindsided by 4e) felt that they we’re invested and the game sold very well.
But to my thinking, play testing is not the whole thing here. WoTC has a lot of bad blood to overcome. How they react to the feedback is huge. The first step is to acknowledge all feedback, good and bad. They need to make the fan base “know” that the comments has been heard, and they need to make this as personal as possible in the large group environment. That’s kind hard, not impossible, and I bet its already in the plans. The next thing would be to make changes based on the feedback. They might be really small things. They might even be set up. Knowing beforehand what people might want (go back to the internet forums) and making something slightly different might not be a bad thing. Then when they ask for something a little different and you give it to them, they are invested in that change.
They might also include things that are a distraction so they can deflect from other changes they definitely want to go through. Kind of like how congressman hide funding for unpopular pet projects inside the fine print on popular pieces of legislation. It’s like a game of chess, and right now all that is being moved are the pawns. And the overall strategy is very complex and in the end no one will know if it was the queen, the knight or the rook that was the main point of attack.
The fact that they are very quiet about anything really makes me wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. There are really only 2 ways they are going to be successful: 1. Create the most brilliant thing ever, 2. Heavily involved marketing in the design process and make good marketing and business decisions along the way. Now, as fantastic as the design team may be (and I have heard opinions both directs on many of them, but I don’t have enough person information to judge), I got to go with number 2 as being the surest way to success. Until then, I’m loving 4e and will continue to play. I will continue to watch the process unfold and withhold any judgments.
Friday, January 20, 2012, 7:31 AM
As before, I going to use this space to vent. You have been warned.
As with everyone else, I am anxious for the future of the game. I want to see what they come up with that will be "modular" and "please everyone" and I'm fascinated with the marketing techniques already being employed. But I'll leave that to another post.
Right now I want to talk about the de-evolution of the Future Release section of the forums. I've fully jumping in the forum greatly interested in what other people are interested in and offered an opinion or 2 of my own. I am always hoping to gleen some tidbit of information about what is happening behind the scenes.
But lately I've seen a trend that makes me want to abandon that particular forum: grognards and past edition evangelist that want to bash the current (and brilliant) edition, that they have never even played, and try to influence D&D Next to be a reincarnation of their favored edition 3.5/PF in most cases. These posters are, not surprisingly, easy to identify: the date joined is on or after 01/09/12!
I have many colorful names for these people, none of which are repeatable or suitable in a public post. I sick and tired of their crap. There were alway some of them lurching around the D&D forum, but they have really come out of the woodwork. It's like a massive roach infestation.
So I guess I have 2 choices: 1. Stop looking in the future releases forum or 2. adding to my block list.
For right now I think I will probably do a combination, blocking the worst of the a-holes and looking for interesting threads much less often. I will also continue to hold up hope that they will go back to Enworld and Paizo and RPG.net and any other little hole they came from.
Beside, I have confidence that the designers are intelligent people that can see the great strides that were made with 4e and can incorporate those some of those great feature into D&D Next. And even if it is vastly different from 4e and not as appealing, I've at least got 18 or more months of this game that I love.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 12:55 PM
Yesterday's big announcement has me all twisted up. I'm anxious, worried, excited, sad, optimistic, jazzed....
I'm only a recent returnee to the hobby, coming back with Essentials less than a year and a half ago. But I have some history. Cut my teeth on the old magenta box OD&D. Played lots of OD&D and some AD&D 1E and a little be of 2E. Played bunch of other games in that era as well - old Gamma World, Aftermath, Starfrontiers, Gurps, MERPS, Mechwarrior (along with Battletech/Citytech/Areotech which wouldn't call RPG's, but I was real into these for a good while), StarWars, TMNT (I remember a great but shortlived campaign of this, lots of fun), and some super hero game but can't remember which. Played a few other in there and even some completely homemade ones. I just kinda quit playing in the early 90's and didn't get back until 17 years later, when my older 2 kids were curious about it. My wife had found the same magenta box I grew up on at a thrift store and bought it (along with a MERPS box) and it was sitting on the shelf. It had the dice and everything which was really cool. But anyway, I have play a number of games in the "old" days. But I never, and never intend to, play 3E, 3.5E, or Pathfinder. No desire from what I've heard of the system compared to 4E.
No to get back to the anouncement, the big thing that has me worried it this "Best of" all editions. WTF. How do you define best of? I think it will end up being very subjective. What particular worries me is some of the difference in 3.xE/PF and 4E that people are really divided on.
Here are a few thing:
- Healing/HP - starting HP, surges, class that can heal etc.
- Level progression - should every class level at same xp
- Power progression - class balance
- Power structure - AEDU if you will
- Mini's and battlegrids
- Number of classes/races
- Complexity of skill system
- Skill challenges
- Saving throws
- Class roles
Here's where I stand on a few- 4E got healing right. Period. Nobody has to play a cleric and you can survive with a healer at all. You heroically keep moving instead of pitching camp after every battle. The game progresses. Power structure is tied right into this - spell casters need at-wills. I think it would be great if they had more spells to pick from each day, for encounters and dailies, like in the vancian system, but I don't miss the vancian system at all. An I love that martial character can do great things. Maybe some of the sameness of power really waters things down, but that's fixable.
Lots of fans of older editions and other games feel the opposite about both of these. So who's right? If they want to win over those other fans for the Next edition, I end up with a game I don't like as much.
Same goes for many of the other things - I like all class leveling the same, I love balanced class so everyone feels they contribute equally at all tiers. Others feel sacred cows were sacrificed making 4e like this.
I love having a huge amount of races and classes. Sure there are some I will never even consider playing, but with some many, I don't care, I have plenty to choose from to keep me happy. Thrikeen are just weird to me, but others like them. I like wilden, other hate them. We can all play what we want together. I've seen many posts on forum with people saying there should only be dwarf, elf, human, halfing... That's so f'ing boring. Will the Next edition have eladrin, eladrin are soooo cool. But many others (fans of older editions) hate them.
Skills are a big deal too. I look at the list of skill in 3.x and hear skill ranks and I glaze over. I love the 4e simplified system. Skill challenges could use a serious make over. I understand how it happened - skill check are the same as combat - DC and AC are exactly analogous. It all works the same. But skill challenges are hard to do well. And harder to roleplay.
4e saving throws are immensely simple, which makes for quick play - now big reference charts, no calculation. I like that, but I can also appreciate that race, class, and level should contribute to ability to succeed in a save. I'm not stuck on it. could go either way. I could see tying saves to NADs...
Same goes for class roles. I think every always knew the role of the classes, and they didn't need to classified but I don't hate it. It makes buidling a balance party easier when your group works to fill the cookie cutter roles. You also know the kinds of powers to expect without looking through the entire class so you can start faster.
When it comes to mini's and grid, I can't see them not giving us both sets of rules. And as someone who played alot of OD&D and AD&D 1E, I have to say - we almost always USED mini's back then. Heavy little lead and pewter ones that we spent hours painting. Now when you put those on a grid and use 4E's move/minor/standard, the game becomes a tactical delite in combat. With the shifting and flanking and teleports and auras. I love that. And I don't have mini's any more - I've been using Sorry game piece lately. My kids make Lego ones to match their characters. I would probably stick to a grid system given the choice.
So basically, I'm interested to see what they come up with and I signed up to test, but at the same time I am very worried that the things that I really love about 4e will be axed to appease fans of older additions. And I have to be pragmatic about it. It will come down to a business decision ultimately. It will be which ever one they thing will win over more while alienating less, so they can sell the system. Because Wizards is a division of a publically traded for-profit company. Those are the kind of decisions they have to make. I'm not mad at them, but I think I'm going to lose the things I love. Sure, I will be able to continue to play 4e, but most of my play is at organized play... so... we'll see. I would certainly like to play test with my kids who only have a little over a year playing, and no experience with other games. To hear what their opinions are, how they feel about the Next edition.
Maybe I'll get a chance.
Thursday, November 17, 2011, 8:55 AM
I'm playing a defender in the new season of encounters. Never payed one before. Always been a leader or controller. Never played a striker either, but thats another matter. Only played one encounter and I was dazed, restrained and prone before I even came up in initiative on the first turn, so haven't got any real tactical experience. I'm trying to get my mind into the role of being a defender.
I have always loved the defenders ability to lock down baddies (and keep them from hitting me) when I was playing other roles. So, I always tried to give them as many buffs as possible - temps, dmg resist, combat advantage, bonus to attack - so that they could be as effective as possible. But now I'm in the role and I'm not really feeling it. I'm not really feeling up to getting pounded on. Now I did play a dwarf sentinel, build with con primary, and went off-tank all the time, sticking myself and my animal companion right up "in the sh*t" as much as possible, because I had HP and surges. I loved it. I missed alot, but I was doing the leader thing, with the aura from the animal companion and throwing out temps and healing all over the place. Now the defender I'm playing - battlemind - is con primary and should be sloughing off hits with high HP and surges, and should hit more (and damage more) than the sentinel, but I'm still not as into it. I feel like I should be. I love the class concept, I really enjoyed putting it together and spent alot of time think about how it should roleplay and how he would react to different things. I want to love this character, I want to love the tactical combat role. I want the other PC's to value my characters role.
Maybe that's it... I want him to play well and be valued by others in combat... but I'm not able to get to that point yet. Maybe its because the one combat encounter we played was so unbalance and I was rendered incapable of acting by conditions that was frustrating. And thate none of the leaders - 3 in the party - had the ability to grant a save (nice work with those build fellas, real helpful).
So I guess I need to work on it more, try to be more mobile (dazed, restrained, and prone don't help) and mark some enemies. Also, only having a 19 AC (lvl 1, scale, heavy shield) and 13 reflex, I don't feel like I will be able to avoid getting hit enough. Maybe the DM will give me some decent magical armor before to long and I won't have to feel so cautious and I can embrace the role of getting in the enemies grill and making them afraid of me and afraid to run from me cause I'll crush them for that too.
Maybe as I level up it will get better. Just writing this has given me some perspective. My AC is better than the rest of the party. I got lots of healing behind me. Several others are built for melee, so as I mark the enemies they ought to be able to getting into flanking positions. We have a couple of good ranged character (sorcerer, witch, and pyromancer). So should be able to mark some enemies and the rest bring some focus fire and take down the enemies quickly. I hope some of them can provoke some OA from marked enemies so I can mind spike them.
Ok so I'm feeling totally better now. I can do this, I can be a juggernaut on the grid force them enemies onto me. I can lock them all down so the strikes and controllers can pop them. I can be the wall that keeps the squishies safe. And maybe I can take done a few allow the way.