Thursday, September 18, 2008

Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide

I got my copy of the FGCG today. The first thing that struck me was the fact that it reminded me of the 3e Eberron CG. Something about the way it was set up made me think of that book. I haven't really had time to read it, but rest assured I will be positing my opinion about it in the near future.
My first impression is that it feels like a rip off. By this I mean that now we have to buy 2 books where as before we only needed one. To get the full use out of the FRCG you will need the Players Guide. I think that sucks.
I could deal, with some grumbling, with having to buy a second and possibly third PHB to get the additional classes and races that were left out of the PHB1, but I just realized that 4e is a bigger money trap than I originally thought.
Not only do we need the core books (PHB, DMG, MM) to play, we will need the future PHB releases (PHB2, 3, 4, etc...) to get all the races and classes we want since many favored classes and races(except Gnomes.. leave the gnomes out of it) were not in the first PHB. They will undoubtedly release more Monster Manuals, of which you will at least want to get MM2. Then there will likely be a DMG 2. That doesn't even take the specific Campaign Settings into consideration.
For which ever setting(s) you want to run you will need that setting's Campaign Guide(now just a campaign specific DMG) as well as the Players Guide (a setting specific PHB).
So assuming that you both DM and play a PC and you want to play a Bard or Druid (assuming that those classes actually are in the PHB2) in the Forgotten Realms you will need a total of 6 books to both play and run that setting. The 3 core books (PHB, DMG, MM), the PHB2, the FRCG and the FR Players Guide. WTF!!!!That is something like $200+ if you want to play and run Forgotten Realms campaigns.
What if you want to run Eberron as well... add another $50-60. Given that I've seen future Dark Sun novels listed on and the WotC site I think it is safe to say there will be a Campaign Guide and Players Guide for that setting as well. (They bring back Dark Sun and kill Mazitca... damn you WotC!) Now add the fact that there will likely be setting specific Monster Manuals and supplements, you end up with a lot of books to run/play a single setting.
Granted you could just stick with the 3 core books and be able to play the game, but that is kind of like playing a PS3 or 360 game on a 13" black and white TV. You can play but you don't get the whole experience, you are missing a big part of what makes the game great. Unfortunately the new model for playing D&D seems to be a page straight from the Palladium play book. You may not need all of the books to play the game, but no single book will give you everything you want/need in your game. So you buy another book but only get a part of what you want/need in and you find that you really need to buy one more book, and then another and another... ad nauseum.
While I was man enough to admit I was wrong in my initial opinion of 4e, the system is good and I like it. My opinion of WotC, however, is becoming less and less positive. I will buy the FRPG because I already bought the FRCG and I'll buy the PHB2 because there are classes in there I want for my games, but after that I'm done!
At least until Eberron comes out......


Dave The Game said...

How is that any worse than the way it was before? At least now there are only two books, instead of needing the campaign setting, the player's guide, Dragon Ninjas of Faerun, Monsters Worth Using of Faerun, etc.

And I don't understand your example either. In 3e, if I wanted to DM and play and wanted Samurai in my Eberron game, I had to buy the core books, plus Complete Warrior, plus the setting books. It seems like an equal cost, and that it's weird to just be getting mad about it now after 3 editions like this.

Plus the example of playing and DMing is weird too. Most people will be doing one or the other, in which case they only have to buy the campaign setting or the player's guide. It's actually making them less money since both sides don't have to buy a huge book anymore.

Michael "Stargazer" Wolf said...

When I look at my bookshelf I count more than 6 books for Eberron alone. With 4E this will be reduced to 3 books tops: one campaign guide, one players guide and an adventure. So I think I will NOT be worse than before.
And as Dave has already pointed out that with 4E players need less books then before.
I also applaud that there are now player's guides for all the settings, so the players get everything they need without getting spoiled.

Geek Gazette said...

Before when you bought the Campaign setting the core character classes for that setting were included, as were additional core races. The players guide and any additional supplements just built upon what the primary setting book offered. You did not need any additional books. You could get them to add to the experience, but there was no need for them.
Now the core setting does not offer the classes or races, you need the Players Guide for that. Since most of the people I know like to play & DM, as they often run/play with multiple groups, they would need both sets.
The core books are set up the same way. All of the core classes and races are not readily available, you have to buy the additional PHBs.
In 3e I needed the 3 core books and if I wanted to run a game or play in Eberron all I needed was the campaign setting. Everything else was just there to add flavor. I bought the supplements I wanted, they were not necessary for anyone in my group. In 4e that is not the case. If you want to play in FR you would need the CG and PG to play the races and characters of that setting. There are more necessary books to buy if you actually want to play. Otherwise you are just playing with the core races and classes and dropping them in the FR world. You don't get to use the classes and races of that setting.
That is the part that bothers me. They took the campaign settings and divided them into two books. Even if you only DM you are going to want to know the rules for the classes and races in the setting and will need to get the players guide as well. I wouldn't mind it if they did it like 3e, where the PG just expanded upon the Campaign Setting with new option, feats, skills, etc.. then they would be optional for everyone. But not including the core game info (races, classes) in the Campaign Setting means both books will be more of a necessity.
The example of playing a Samurai is not where I was directing my comments. Since the Samurai is not a core Eberron class it is not necessary to buy the book containing it unless you want to. That also goes for a great many other classes/races. That type of PC is completely optional for an Eberron game. But to play a Artificer, a core class in that setting, you will now need to buy the PG. If you want to run an Eberron campaign you will need to buy the CG as well... two books are needed where one was before.
Granted from a strictly players POV all they need is the core PHBs and setting PG, but that is assuming they only run PCs and never DM. Still for the players it is more costly as well. If a player in my game wants to play a Gensai Druid in FR, they will not only need the PHB1 for character creation rules, but the PHB2(assuming Druids are in the PHB2) and the FRPG... 3 books to play 1 core class and one setting specific core race.In 3e they would have only needed the PHB and FRCG. Plus since they would have the FRCG they would have the world information they needed to build the character.
For the DM or someone who does both, like myself, the cost is more than in 3e. Especially now that there are going to be multiple core PHBs.
That is my gripe. Now if WotC decided to make each of the core PHBs stand alone, meaning you don't need PHB1 if the classes you want to play are in PHB2 because all the character creation rules are in each PHB, then that changes my opinion a bit. But I am still annoyed by the removal of the setting specific core classes and races from the campaign settings.

Geek Gazette said...

@ Stargazer
But of the 6 Eberron books on your shelf how many of them are necessary to play the setting? Just one, the others only add flavor. Now there will be 2. That is unless you never play and only DM. Still I would want to know about the core classes and races for the setting I was running, which puts me back at buying 2 books where I only needed one before.
I have conceded that strictly from the player only POV they will not need to buy as many books, as long as they don't want to play any additional core classes/races than those offered in PHB1, but that still goes under the assumption that they never DM. I don't know many people who only sit on one side of the screen.

Oz said...

Incorrect. The PHB2 is an entire PHB, just with a different range of classes and races.

There will be some overlap, I can see Fighter being in a lot of them, but you don't need to purchase both the PHB1 and PHB2. You don't need to take them both to your game, just take the PHB2, and leave the PHB1 at home, if you're running a Barbarian.

Geek Gazette said...

@ Oz
Like I said if the character creations rules are in each of the PHBs then that changes my opinion a bit. Still I don't like having the setting specific core races and classes taken out of my Campaign Setting.

@ everyone
I apologize, because is seems that I wasn't clear enough in regards to what I don't like about the new set up. So I will attempt so make it clear.

Player only POV.
To play you only need the 1 core PHB and Campaign Setting to play core and setting specific classes and races. 2 books only.
Assuming that the core classes and races you like to play are not in the same PHB you will need more than one. (It is my understanding that even if the creation rules are included in each PHB the races and classes will not be the same. From what I have read each PHB will focus on specific power sets/jobs and not be all inclusive.) Plus if you are playing in a setting, such as FR, you will also need the FRPG. 2-3 books.

DM only POV.
You need the 3 core books (PHB, MM, DMG) and the Campaign Setting.4 books, though you could subtract the PHB and make it 3 if you want.
You need the 3 core books, plus the Campaign Guide. More than likely you will also need the additional core PHBs(however many there end up being) and the campaign specific Players Guide. Now if you don't want to know anything about the classes and races that are in your game you could take all the PHBs out of the equation and end up with 3 books as well, but I don't like driving my car with one eye closed. If it is core to the game and setting I want to know how it works and need the book. Any optional stuff is left up to the player(s).

Since I apparently didn't do a very good job explaining myself in the original post I hope this clarifies things a bit.

Dave The Game said...

I was addressing this with my Samurai example: "So assuming that you both DM and play a PC and you want to play a Bard or Druid (assuming that those classes actually are in the PHB2) in the Forgotten Realms you will need a total of 6 books to both play and run that setting."

In 4e, Bard and Druid are hardly necessary to run the Forgotten Realms. You may WANT them for your game, but again, it's like the Samurai in Eberron: it's a personal preference thing, and not a requirement of the setting by any stretch.

"If you want to play in FR you would need the CG and PG to play the races and characters of that setting"

Not true, Players ONLY need the Player's Guide and DM's ONLY need the Campaign setting. The FRCS includes everything I need to make NPCs for FR.

"Plus since they would have the FRCG they would have the world information they needed to build the character."

I'm pretty sure there's enough world information in the PG to play your character. The CG is ONLY designed for DMs.

I would also venture that your experience that most people sit on both sides of the screen regularly is the minority opinion. Plus in a regular gaming group, stuff like the campaign guide is easily shared.

Anonymous said...

"leave the gnomes out"

Ack! Blasphemy!

I really think that for the most part, they're just doing what they've always been doing. I mean, the 2nd Edition FR came out, and then all the boxed sets came out ("Ho, hum, You can play in Myth Drannor with just the regular set, but if you really want to get into it, you'll need to buy Ruins of Myth Drannor, Cormanthyr - Empire of Elves, and all canonical novels."), and then all the adventures came out. Then they did the same thing w/ 3E and 3.5. I don't think they've become any more malicious in their design of their personal economy and finances, I just think they're trying to make money, and they know people will buy the stuff.

What I would really like to see would be something along the lines of a code in the back of each book, so that you can register your book, and then have access to free web material, that seems to be the way of a lot of things nowadays, but I don't see WotC doing that anytime soon.

Geek Gazette said...

@ dave
I still disagree with your comparison of the Samurai and Druid or Bard. Druids and Bards are considered to be core classes from a core book, Samurai are not. Granted playing any class is not a necessity, they are all on a want to basis as is playing the game itself. I am simply applying this to core only classes, whether that be truly core or campaign specific (ie Artificer). My stance being that if it is a core class/race it should be in one core PHB, not spread out over multiple PHBs. Otherwise I would never need anything but the DMG and MM. So why sell the PHB, DMG and MM as a bundle and require all three to play? So that comparison is kind of moot, unless you are playing in an Oriental Campaign Setting and then the Samurai should be a part of the core CG.

Chalk it up to different geographic areas, but I know few people that stick to the role of Player or DM exclusively. Granted that may be the case for a specific campaign. One person may DM their campaign (such as FR), but play in someone else's Eberron campaign on another night, but only a few players I know have never DMed. I do tend to prefer DMing and play very rarely, but I do run PCs from time to time.

Sharing one campaign book is nice for one shot games, but in a regular campaign it gets to be troublesome. Too often the person with the book can't show and you end up having to buy it anyway or run something else that night. If only one person needs the books then 1 set of core books, 1 CG and 1 PG should suffice for any group and I doubt that happens very often. I've never seen it, I've also never seen a DM run a game with out the material for core races and classes(even if they are setting specific) but apparently the gamers I know are not the norm.

My exposure to gamers may be a bit different than what is the norm, but if it is core, it is something you "need". (We've already established that the entire game is a "want" and I'm not trying to start an argument, just explain my view.) There is always a way to cut corners. Everyone could pick the book they want to commit to and buy just that book, thus each player/DM is only out the cost of 1 book. But realistically how reliable is that? I have conceded that if players want to limit their core races/classes to the PHB1 and PG they can cut the number of books down as well. But saying that the PHB2, which contains core classes and races, is the same as any other supplement just seems incorrect to me. Supplements do not have character creation rules, they rely on the core books to be useful. Of course the player could not buy any books, and thus not play, until after all the core PHBs are released as well. Then they can pick and choose. The DM can also borrow the PG from players... there are tons of ways to cut corners and save money. I was looking at it from the perspective of someone who doesn't always game with the same group their whole lives and has to know at lest the core material (including the campaign specific which I consider core for that campaign setting only) for when they do play with a new group.
Another way to save money would be to just skip all the settings and play homebrew only, and I've done that, but that wasn't my point.

I was looking at the fact that in 3e you could buy the 3 core books and 1 campaign setting to have everything you needed to play in that world. If you were playing in FR you wold have all the core and setting specific material needed to either play or run that setting. Everything else is just extra goodies. Now one of the 3 core books is being split into multiple books (PHB) and the campaign setting(s) is/are split in two (CG & PG). I don't think that is right. It isn't that you can't play the game with out all the core material, because you can, it is the fact that you are missing part of the core material which lessens your options before you even start. Everything isn't there at your disposal, in 4 books, like it was before.

Like I said you can find ways around buying books, but the fact remains that the number of books is greater for the same material.

BTW thanks for posting. Regardless of how it seems I do appreciate the feedback. It will definitely help me out when I do the actual review.

Jeremy Murphy said...

Ummm, you play RPG's, and you're complaining about it being a money suck and you having to buy a lot of books? Excuse me while I laugh ironically.

The only reason you even notice is that the books came out so fast. Every RPG is a money suck - 4e just has to get people caught up on their various campaign worlds ASAP, so things are coming out monthly instead of every 3-4 months.

There has never been an RPG anywhere, ever, where all the options were available in one book. I just don't happen. 4e is more calculated in it's book release schedule and deployment of "extras" like minis and dungeon tiles, but it's nothing new. Besides, if you think that any publisher can re-create the content put out in 6 years of regular splatbooks in 1 book, share what you're smoking, bro.

Dave The Game said...

"Druids and Bards are considered to be core classes from a core book, Samurai are not."

I think we'll just have to disagree here. In 4e, Druids and Bards are not core. They may have been core in previous editions, but that is no longer the case. I've read my FRCG cover to cover, and I haven't read anything that references them. Not even a mention of Volo.

And I still stand by the new Campaign Setting/Player Guide being much more friendly to the wallet than previous editions.

Geek Gazette said...

@ wickedmurph
I am well aware of the fact that all RPGs are an endless money sucking hobby. That isn't the issue. If I want it or feel I need it I will buy it, if my wife will let me. ;-) I am a gamer and a D&D fan, as I said before I like the 4e system. I will buy the FRPG and the PHB2 to get all the core material to play and run the game. I just don't like how they are breaking the books up. It seems kind of senseless to me.

My issues is that things that were previously in one book are now spread over multiple books. I will need to buy more books to get the same level of content. I'm still apparently doing a very poor job of explaining my opinion and for that I apologize. But I will give it one more try.

According to what I have read the PHB2 will be a core rulebook. It will have the Druids and Bards (since those are the two we used as examples) that will be considered core classes. It will also have gnomes (blah!) which will be considered a core race. Thus the PHB2 is a core book, just like the DMG, PHB1 & MM. It just has the core classes (jobs) and races they left out of the PHB1. So unlike 3e, the core classes are not all in one book and you need to buy the 2nd PHB to get all the core classes /races.
So therefore what once was 1 Players Handbook is now 2.

The Campaign Settings have also been divided into two books. Now assuming that the DM only buys the 3 original core books (DMG, PHB, & MM) and only the Campaign Guide he is still out 4 books. Which is fine if you only want the bare minimum. Now the players will need the PHB1, PHB2 (to get all the core races/classes) and the Campaign Setting's Players Guide, 3 books.
Now going under the presumption that the group is made up of 1 exclusive DM and 1 exclusive player that buys the books, they break down like this.

Bare Mimimum to play in Forgotten Realms= 4 books.

Player: Bare Mimimum to play in Forgotten Realms= 2 books.
Which isn't so bad,but that is the bare minimum....
If all the core books and core setting material are bought the DM ends up with DMG,MM,PHB1,PHB2,CG & PCG =6.
The player each end up with PHB1,PHB2 & PCG =3(the player didn't get the Campaign Setting, just the Players Guide)
That is just to get all the core classes/races, the campaign setting(DM only) and the classes/races for that setting. You get a total of 9 separate books. Again in this scenario the players do not buy the Campaign setting, just the Players Guide. If you do add the player getting the Setting as well we have 10 books.

Still too many books? Then figure it this way.
The DM buys only the 3 core books and the campaign setting = 4 books.
The player buys only the 2 core PHBs and the Players Guide = 3 books. We still end up with 7 books to get the core and setting material on the table. No Supplemental material allowed... all of it core to the game or setting.

Comparing that to 3e:
DM: DMG,PHB(all core classes & races) ,MM,&CG(all setting specific rules /races /classes) = 4 books
Player: PHB & CG = 2 books
total 6 books

In 4e you have to have 3-4 more books at the table in order for every player and the DM to all be on the same playing field with core & setting content. If you skimp out on the DM then you can get all the core material in 7 books, still that is 1 more book than before. Keep in mind none of these books are supplements.. it is all core game and core setting material.

Now I'm not trying to get you guys to agree with me, if you like the way it is set up now super. I just want you to understand where I'm coming from and what my complaint is. There are more books to get the same level of play.
Leaving out the PHB2, leaves out core classes and races, splitting the setting in two still creates 2 books where there was 1.

On the upside to all of this, the additional PHB2 will offer more classes and races, which should give a larger total number of classes/races than in the 3e PHB. That is the only good thing I can think of to say about it.

It's been fun but I've got classes tonight.

Jeremy Murphy said...

@Geek Gazette
I get where you're coming from - core implies the books absolutely required to play. And on paper, there ARE more "core" rulebooks to buy in 4e than there were in 3e.

It's pretty clear why they did it this way, though - they didn't really have a choice. The new class designs take up way, way more space than the previous ones - well, similar if you count the old spell lists. They also put a bunch of things in the PHB that they didn't have in there before - stuff like the equipment lists and pretty much all the core combat rules.

There is no way that they could make one book that had everything - especially since they used the DMG for actual DM advice. We may not agree with the decision to put Tieflings and Dragonborn and Warlocks and Warlords in the first Core book, at the expense of Gnomes and Druids and Barbarians, but I don't think it was a financial decision - it was an organizational one.

I'm also not unhappy with breaking up the FR stuff into two books. I mean, FR is pretty much the richest setting in terms of total material of anything short of Harn, or something like that. Asking for everything in one book... isn't reasonable.

The books so far are very good, usable, attractive and with high production values. There is a saying in engineering "Good, fast or cheap. Pick two." Wizards is giving us good content fast. Complaining that it's not cheap isn't adding much to the discussion of the merits of the product, IMO.

Geek Gazette said...

@ wickedmurph
Good, I though I was completely incapable of getting my point across. The splitting of the books sucks and I do not like it. I never said the content wasn't good. I think the content for 4e is as good and in many ways better than 3e, but that wasn't the point of my rant. I'm aggravated because I have to buy more books than before to get the same content. I also never said that WotC did not have good reason, at least in some instances, for doing things the way they are now... but I still don't have to like it.
I both like and dislike the separation of the PHB into multiple volumes. I do like the increased number of options/classes/races and the detail given to the abilities of the PCs. What I don't like is having to buy another book to get core material.
I disagree with the breaking breaking FR into multiple "core" books. The Campaign Guide and the Player's guide could have easily been combined. I think the 3e Campaign Guide format worked very well at balancing DM and PC info. If you wanted more detail you could pick up a supplement, but the core of the setting had exactly what you needed to play with no additional books. Given the increase in core game material I think they should have gone the more conservative route when it comes to the settings.
I will have to be more careful in my wording in future posts.