Wednesday, March 18, 2009

D&D Rant

Disclaimer: I have yet to play a single game of 4th edition D&D. I played in less than a dozen sessions of 3.5. I played quite a bit of 2nd edition, a little bit of 1st, and the first RPG I ever had was the "purple box" D&D Basic. I mention this to establish my D&D 'cred' or lack thereof.

Recently someone on another blog interjected this gem into the comments on a post about D&D 4th: "Here's an idea, go back to running old school D&D games that were free form and far less limited by 600 pages of rules!!"

I replied to that post there, but I want to repeat that reply and expand upon it here:

Really? Which version of D&D was this? I must have missed the "free form" edition.

D&D has never been "free form," and every edition has had far more than 600 pages of rules spread out over the different books.

I think it's funny that nearly every argument I've seen against D&D 4th are ones that I've used in the past against any edition of D&D in favor of other systems.

Seriously, if you want a rules light "free form" system don't play D&D! There are, and always have been, far better systems out there if that's your thing.

While we're on this track, let me shoot down another argument that's often made. D&D has never encouraged roleplaying. Your DM may have encouraged roleplaying, but the system never did. Arguing that you play an older version of D&D because you're a "roleplayer" is about the dumbest thing you could ever say.

Again, if a focus on roleplaying is truly your thing, then there are, and always have been, much better systems in terms of encouraging roleplaying out there. In fact, just about any RPG ever made does a better job of encouraging roleplaying than any edition of D&D ever has.

I think part of the reason I like D&D 4th is that I'm not a roleplayer, I'm a gamer. I like games, and I like new games because they are often better than old games because game designers often learn from the mistakes of the past.

D&D 4th looks like a great game. The rules are tight and balanced. A new player is faced with a limited number of options that expand as they play the game and their experience with the system grows. New DMs are given useful guidelines in designing encounters that will challenge the players without overwhelming them.

That's not to say it doesn't have problems. Out of the gate it suffers from fewer options than 3.5, but that's to be expected of a new system that only has a few hundred pages compared to the tens of thousands written for the older ones. I've heard complaints about the 'missing' 'core' classes and races, all of which have been reintroduced with the PHB2.

I suppose the kind of gaming groups that play every week and finish a campaign in two or three months could have run up against the limited options available at launch by now (and evidence indicates that many of them have), but those options are expanding, and will continue to expand as new books come out. In the meantime, maybe some of those groups could try games other than D&D?

While not true in all cases, I've noticed that the majority of complainers either play D&D exclusively, or it at least makes up the majority of their gaming. Gamers that play a variety of RPGs, or just more games in general, seem to see 4th edition as an improvement over the past. Perhaps if some of the naysayers would broaden their minds a bit beyond D&D, or RPGing in general, they too would come to see the good things in 4th edition.

Then again, maybe some of this hate is for the best. Just yesterday I was talking to someone who has become disenchanted with D&D 4th. They were telling me about this new game they'd found that they like a lot better called the Burning Wheel...


featurecreep said...

Only you could get burnt out on a game before you actually ever played it.


Fulminata said...

I am the ultimate magpie gamer... oooo, shiny!

That said, I'm not burned out on D&D 4th at all, and didn't mean to give the impression that I was. I have played a couple of times since writing this and I like the game. I'm still hoping that they will eventually get their virtual tabletop working so we can play some online.

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