Archive for January, 2011

Why I hate Essentials

Posted in Uncategorized on January 3, 2011 by Atlemar

I don’t, really. Except parts of it. Starting with the name.

There’s nothing Essential about Heroes of the Starts-With-F Geographical-Unit books. They contain limited and limiting builds. There’s a good reason for these builds, but they are not in any way the core of the game. If they had put together basic builds that were actually based off the PHB classes — a sword-and-shield fighter with pre-chosen feats and powers — then yes. But these are Essentially Different. The cleric’s turn undead is a melee attack! That is crazy. The warpriest is a good specialized build, but it’s not a good generic build.

I hate that Essentials, overall, was a poorly done rush job. It shows in the Rules Compendium, which has all the weapon rules except several it leaves out — brutal, for example. What happens when a PC is below zero, gets healing that lets him spend a surge, but is out of surges? The Rules Compendium and Heroes of the F* contradict each other on that.

I hate the 6×9 books. Yes, they fit better on a crowded game table. But they don’t stay open, they’re going to come apart, the covers bend when you stick them in a bag. And the real reason I hate them is I love the look of the 30 4e hardcovers I already have, and these books don’t match. We’ve had hardcovers since 1e, and they’ve been great. I want more of them, and don’t expect to get any more.



Two things wrong with That Post on Woot

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2011 by Atlemar

I could say a lot about that post on Woot bashing 4e. Like most 4e-bashing, it bashes the edition in a lot of nonsensical ways. (You know, there are lots of reasons someone could not like 4e. It turns the power level way up, and creates a different tone than the grittier, slower original. It’s like the difference between glossy full-color pages and plain black-and-white pages illustrated by hand drawings. Hm. But no, they always come up with crap like “there’s no role-playing.”)

Here are two things I’ll say:

Our DM explained that this was the best of all possible versions for numerous reasons that I pretended to listen to because honestly, I did not care.

Let’s be honest. The real reason people play the old school game is that it’s what they played when they were in school. They’re used to it, it’s comforting. It’s just not better. In fact, in Irony #1, Randall (the author of the post) cites the “Myopic Genius Factor” as a reason 4e sucks; the truth is that same factor is why old-school gamers are deluding themselves. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson invented a game; they didn’t perfect it. Just as novels have gotten better since the Victorian era, just as the screenwriting in old Doctor Who is often not as good as more recent versions, just as video games have gotten better since Pac-Man, just as board games have gotten better since Monopoly, role-playing games have gotten better since then. By damning new technology like a skills system that works and ACs that go up instead of down, old-school gamers like Luke of the Woot post damn themselves to the RPG version of a world without game consoles and cell phones. They’re the Amish of D&D.

Irony #2:

“It actually takes EFFORT to enjoy it.”

Are you kidding me? He just spent all this time complaining about how he died in the B/X game, and now he’s damning effort to enjoy something? Look, Randall, a first-level wizard in B/X is lucky to have 4 hit points. Once a day, he gets to cast a spell, and otherwise he’s throwing daggers. It can be enjoyed, but you have to put some effort into it.

On the other hand, a 4e character has enough hit points to survive a round, and enough spells that he can do something interesting every round. The first time I played 4e, the very first time, I loved it. Why? Because I had choices. I could make one of four different attacks, based on what I wanted to do. That’s because 4e has the technology to make every character different, not just in the drawing but in combat. Dwarves have rules that make them tougher, elves that make them better attackers. Sword-and-shield fighters have different effects on their opponents than one-big-axe fighters.

Seriously, Randall, don’t let Luke push you around. D&D in the 21st Century is really better than it was back in the day. Try a game of 4e, and try a game of Pathfinder. But old-school, man, those people are crazy.

And by crazy, I mean often in denial. They go on about the lack of role-playing rules in 4e, as if 1e was full of them. They damn dungeon crawls, as if Tomb of Horrors and Keep on the Borderlands weren’t. They’re remembering the fun they had with a great game 20 years ago and thinking it came from the system and not from their own heads. Crazy.