Thursday, September 10, 2009

Time to Bash 4e Again.

Since I've been doing a one shot 4e game to get the club started all teh reasons I dilike 4e have come back witha vengeance. I'm usually nicer about it now than I used to be. I have decided that 4e is a good game for thoase who like it. It plays well, and it's very tight.

I most decidedly _do NOT_ like it. So I went back over my old arguments and ran across this:

"Okay, so I’ve been DMing 4e for a while now. Large group (8 players, 9 w/dm). Lots of Dragonborn, couple Eldarin and an Elf, 1 Tiefling. 2 warlocks, 2 Rogues, 2 fighters, 1 ranger, 1 paladin. I’m DMing Keep on the Shadowfell.

Without kindling flames I thought I’d give my take on 4e “feel”, since I’ve been so vocal about D&D being D&D regardless of version.

4e seems like a different game. Fantasy, after a fashion, but not D&D, not to me. Now, granted 4e will obviously be considered D&D to the majority of the kids I’m DMing, because they’ve never played anything else. But to me it seems fundamentally different. I will also admit that what “feels” like D&D to me is based on 1st, 2nd and to a lesser extent 3.5 edition. What I mean by fundamentally different is elucidated below.

_It is high powered from the start_. I simply couldn’t believe the effect of powers on combat. Wow! I mean we are talking major magic walking around with any group of heroes. Now granted I suppose Heroes are taken to be rare—but to be able to do all that at 1st level?! I’m not saying it’s bad, just very different from what I’m used to. I will admit that the monsters have been powered up hp wise so they don’t exactly drop like flies.

_All the players seem like high level wizards_. From what I understand 4e creators wanted to “balance” all character classes by the addition of powers. To me it achieved this albeit offering a high level of power. However, all the characters seem like super powered wizards after a fashion. All characters have huge magical options at first level with a slight variance in skills, feats, hp, weapons etc. They all seemed a bit generic. A wizard with a mace, wizard with a sword, wizard with a bow—you get the drift.

_Powers_ Okay, so far it’s all about powers. That’s true this is THE big element of 4e in my opinion. And powers are where character customization comes in to a large degree. (Though high level characters likely end up with a lot of the same low level powers.) This just seems more like a supers game or a high powered magic game than a true fantasy game with all these powers thrown in.

_Unrealistic_ I’m sure this is a sort of hokey criteria for a fantasy game. What level of realism are we talking about anyway? But for me AD&D always seemed to me like you could walk through a portal into that fantasy world and it would differ very little from this world. I mean the setting is basically medieval and the fantasy is basically Tolkienian—classical fantasy. The laws we know and understand apply in this world with the exception of magic. If I were transported to an AD&D world I could at least compete with low level characters. Again I know this is hokey but I hope my point is getting across. 4e is massively different—bordering on alien even. It simply doesn’t seem familiar fantasy wise. Now that’s all good if it’s what you are looking for—something so “other” that it bears little resemblance to medieval fantasy. I mean how do these characters DO what these powers allow them to do? Is it magic even in the case of fighter and rogue types? Is this just to be taken to be a very high magic world where everyone is imbued with magical prowess? If I stepped into this world I’d be hard pressed to tend pigs.
More to the point is it realistic for characters to be so powerful at first level? Now this is probably just purely personal but it seems like characters should start relatively normal. Maybe stronger or quicker than average. Maybe know a spell or two. Know how to hold their own in sword fight—and then grow from there. The powers come later. Of course I haven’t played high level 4e games. If I do I might be in for a sanity check.

_mini based_ Now don’t get me wrong, I love little minis, but I’ve never been much of a mini gamer. I use them basically for complex combat. 4e is very minis based and the modules seem to be heavily geared towards that type of play especially where combat is involved. This hasn’t appealed to me.

_Is it an RPG Video Game_ Okay this is bound to stir some feathers, but allow me to explain. I have watched the WoW crowd for awhile. Never been into it, but then I’m not a real video game hound. I watch these characters in WoW and it seems a lot like what I see as 4e in my head. Maybe I’ve just been biased by the slanders that claim WoTC is just trying to appeal to the WoW crowd with 4e. Well, I think they’ve done it. But I’m just not into that. Now is it a video game—obviously not—it’s definitely an RPG. But to me in terms of an RPG it has the whiff of Rifts about it. So far out there as to have reached the border of D&D genre and moved into something else. I even have students saying it is like WoW in many ways. I haven’t asked them for specifics or anything—mainly because they like this aspect of it.

Others may feel differently. In fact I know they do—and maybe my age is showing through. But I’m seriously considering gating my party through to a 1e world to bring me back to sanity. Funny thing is the kids love 4e. I’m the only one chugging pepto-bismol at night from our over the top gaming sessions.

You have to understand that I have always been an anti-montyhaul gamer. Over the top has never appealed to me. And we did some high level demigod playing when I was playing 1e. Somehow it all seemed reasonable. But 4e is causing me to have that after-Halloween-too-much-sweets hangover.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I’m still designing that gate though.

Okay, go ahead and thrash me I can take it : - )"

Well I did gate them through, but that's another story. And luckily I'm passing the 4e torch to another DM who loves 4e. Me. I'm DMing 1e AD&D starting tomorrow. Gods be praised!



Monday, September 7, 2009

Had a DM ...

I've an online acquaintance who posted this about a guy that qualifies as possibly the world's worst DM:

"If you can't find local players you could try a pbm. I know a guy, but he has a a few house rules you should be aware of:

1) All characters have no more than 3 hit points. He says this is realistic because people can die from a knife wound.

2) He uses proficiencies, and in his own way. With multi-classes, your character gets the proficiencies of only one class, the one with the least amount of proficiencies. And you have to abide by the weapon restrictions of all the classes. There's some other things like fighter/thieves have to spend a prof. slot to fight with a sword as a fighter and another slot to fight with the same sword as a thief. And you have to spend 2 slots to know how to use thrown weapons, one for melee & one for missile.

3) Characters can only be human.

4) He only allows players to use 2 classes, Fighters & Thieves. He thinks all the sub-classes & spell casters are over powered. He doesn't let fighters specialize either.

5) Fighters don't get percentile strength. Characters roll 1d10 for ability scores. He says people were smaller, weaker, dumber, and less healthy in medieval times.

6) You mail him proposals for what your character does in combat. He resolves it himself using a combat system of his own design that he claims is more "realistic". None of us understood it when he tried explaining it to us. Now he refuses to explain the mechanics.

7) He requests that all new players provide him with a 20 page biography of their character's background. Don't use the daily summaries off soap opera pages...he's wise to that trick now.

8) You can record yourself singing your desired actions in iambic pentameter for the next round for half the experience points or e-mail him a short film of you doing the same through interpretive dance for full credit.

9) Based on your characters backstory, the DM will tell you what your character does. Because the DM knows what your character is thinking better than you. And he knows how to play the game better than any of us. That's why he uses his own rules instead of the ones in the books.

10) Players are not allowed to interfere with the narrative the DM creates. They are only the players. They should only observe how clever the DM is and how fabulous the story is.

Anyhow, if your interested in playing the travesty that this clown is passing off as a first edition AD&D me privately by e-mail. He has an open position in the party, after I told him what he could do with his game. And where he could go after he did it.

On second thought, I should not reveal the identity of this person. Suffice to say it is not a member of our group. This specimen should be avoided like the plague.

I think this person could perhaps be the world's worst D&D fan - I would challenge anyone here to come up with a better (worse) examples. Change the names to keep from hurting any feelings.

Let's hear your horror stories."

--Vince Lethal

Yes, let's indeed. Makes my period as a killer DM seem like a honeymoon.

Someone responded thusly: "Out of curiosity: How many players does this guy have?" To which Vince responded:

"He has in fact Two players left now:

#1 is his younger brother whom he "persuades" to buy new game books when they came out. But he confiscates these and refuses to let his younger brother read them so the younger can't "cheat" by reading the DM information.

#2 is a person I'll refer to as Captain Toque. He doesn't contribute much to the game that I've seen, except to bum cigarettes and junk food of the rest of the group. His preferred brand is some herbal cigarette he calls old Toby- it smells like a skunk.

I would refer the matter to the A.S.P.C.A., but I don't think either player would be adopted."

What the heck can I say about that? ROTFLMAO