Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I finally got to sit down and play a game face to face with someone, and it was 4th Edition D&D, which I have been itching to try out since its release.

My initial impression is that I understand the naysayers, but still respectfully disagree. It's true, the game does not encourage roleplaying in the way a game like Burning Wheel might. It encourages tactical thinking and teamwork, but it still allows for roleplaying. It's simply up to the DM and the players.

I want to start by saying that the game tonight was well run, and was delivered as advertised: three encounters in three hours using 4th edition D&D. I had a great deal of fun and really got to see the rules in action.

Now, the game tonight was also a perfect example of what the naysayers have been complaining about. The game started in media res, with the players having already accepted the mission, and finding themselves outside the gate of their destination. There was no debate or negotiation. No investigation or exploration. We were there to do a job and we proceeded to do it.

The rules make this kind of game very easy to set up and run, but it's still the DM's choice to run it that way. If we had had more time than the three hour slot we were given, we could have started the game at the beginning. We could have played out being recruited into the Guard in order to investigate a case of missing Dwarves. We could have questioned those with knowledge of the situation to better prepare ourselves, and then gone out and explored the area where the Dwarves were last seen. Instead, all of this was made part of the introduction, either implicitly or explicitly, and we began the actual game with the first combat encounter.

In many ways, this is a return to the roots of D&D as an outgrowth of a tactical miniatures wargame, and I guess it's going to take some players a while to realize the potential for roleplaying within the system.

Of course, some players may simply get tired of the system itself and move on before they realize that potential, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that either. There are systems that encourage roleplaying more than 4th Edition D&D, and here's where I tend to disagree with most of the naysayers: 3rd Edition D&D isn't one of those games. It's still a system centered around tactical combat.

All that aside, I'm looking forward to the next session.

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